Gleison Tibau’s mantle remains conspicuously void of commemorative hardware, but he seems steadfast in his pursuit of championship gold as the sun begins to set on his combat sports career.
The soon-to-be 38-year-old Brazilian will try to keep his Professional Fighters League playoff hopes alive when he meets former Bellator MMA champion Rory MacDonald in the PFL 5 main event on Thursday at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Tibau has won twice in his past three outings. He made his organizational debut at PFL 2 on April 29, when he lost a unanimous decision to Joao Zeferino and put himself behind the proverbial eight ball in the hunt for one of the four available postseason berths at 170 pounds.
As Tibau prepares for his do-or-die confrontation with MacDonald, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He has staying power.
Tibau has competed in four different decades: the 1990s, the 2000s, the 2010s and the 2020s. He made his debut as a 16-year-old on Dec. 24, 1999 and fought at least one time every year from 1999 to 2015.
2. His skills lend themselves to an attritive approach.
The longtime American Top Team representative has grown familiar with judges throughout his career, as 25 of his 50 professional fights have gone the distance. Eight of those bouts resulted in split scorecards, with Tibau emerging victorious six times.
3. He left his mark at the highest level.
Despite the fact that Tibau has not competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in more than three years, he still ranks second on the promotion’s all-time list for takedowns completed (84). He trails only former two-division champion Georges St. Pierre (90) in the category. Tibau recorded multiple takedowns in 20 of his 28 appearances inside the Octagon, including a career-high 11 of them in a unanimous decision over Josh Neer at UFC 104.
4. Opponents grapple at their own risk.
Tibau holds the rank of Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and he has put those world-class tools to use in MMA. The Ricardo Liborio protégé has delivered 14 of his 35 career victories by submission. His methods of choice: five rear-naked chokes, three armbars, three guillotine chokes, one keylock, one triangle choke and one arm-triangle choke. Meanwhile, Tibau has only been submitted twice, as he surrendered to a Joe Stevenson guillotine choke at UFC 86 and tapped to a rear-naked choke from Tony Ferguson at UFC 184.
5. He stained his reputation.
Known for his hulking physique and ability to manage harsh weight cuts, Tibau in 2015 received a two-year suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency after he tested positive for erythropoietin, more commonly known as EPO—the same performance-enhancing drug that brought down seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
« Previous PFL 5 Weigh-in Results: Main Event Set, 1 Fighter Heavy Next PFL Heavyweight Bracket Shaken Up, 4 Alternates Tapped for PFL 6 »