Tatame reported this past weekend that former Shooto South American Featherweight World Champion and Nova Uniao prospect Hacran "Barnabe Dias (20-1-1 MMA) is close to signing to the UFC, where he will add on to a consistently progressing UFC Featherweight roster.
When officially signed to MMA's largest organization, Dias will bring five unanimous decision victories, two split decision victories, two back-to-back TKO wins by way of punches, nine submission wins, four of which came by rear naked choke, a win by way of TKO due to retirement (quitting on the stool), a 2008 draw against Takafumi Ito and a unanimous decision loss to Yui Chul Nam.
At 5'8", the 27-year-old submission ace is more than just a sweet Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, having shown the Nova Uniao trademarks of a hard leg kick and nice head movement as he's progressed through the sport. As he further progresses in the sport, eventually finding himself against the elite, MMA experts and martial arts diehards alike can eventually expect the signature Muay Thai offense some might expect out of Andre Pederneiras' Jiu-Jitsu Academy and Muay Thai monster factory.
With training partners such as UFC Featherweight Champion and consensus Top 3 pound-for-pound world-ranked phenom Jose "Scarface" Aldo, Diego "The Gun" Nunes, UFC Bantamweight machine Renan Barao, his cousin Marlon Sandro and the legendary Andre Pederneiras as his trainer, the sky may be the limit, but the glass ceiling for what Dias might be able to accomplish in his career is high.
Before we can speculate on potential opponents for Dias in his UFC debut, however, let us first gain some retrospective on how Dias reached this point in his career by getting a good look at 10 of Dias' most must-see highlights.
It took 15 minutes, but it didn't take much verbal conviction in order to persuade anyone about Ruiz's defeat to Dias at Jungle Fight 11 in September of 2008.
Dias and Ruiz fought inside the cage for this one, but it didn't do much to weaken the strengths of Dias on the feet or on the ground, and although Ruiz had him in difficult situations, it was Dias that eventually was declared the winner due to the danger he presented to Ruiz throughout the duration of the bout via his takedowns, his striking and how active he was when he got Ruiz on the ground despite being unable to find the finish.
For a more clear idea to the dividends that Dias' performance paid towards his victory on this night, you may watch the video of the entire fight, from the entrances to the final announcement of the decision.
Only two men have created situations in which it could be argued that Dias may have lost after three rounds.
On Dec. 6, 2008, Marcos Roudrigues "Babuino" dos Santos became the second of two fighters to take Dias to a split decision, with Marcio Soares being the first man to do it at Watch Out Combat Sports 2 in late September of 2008, and how insane is it that this bout, Dias' final bout of 2008, happened after the first split decision win of Dias' career?
If you find the time to watch it in full, check out the fight starting from part one and watch the back-and-forth action that causes the action to be seen as such a tooth-and-nail affair for three rounds, and the third round especially should show why some may argue that "Babuino" may have won the bout.
If Dias gets signed to the UFC, will "Babuino" follow, and if so, will there be a rematch between these two?
That's a question for another day, but interesting of note is that this would be Dias' second-to-last victory before the Yui Chul Nam fight in Korea under the M-1 banner, in which he lost a unanimous decision to the brawler.
After that loss, it was time to brush up on a few things.
On Aug. 29, 2009, X-Combat TV News was on hand for West Fight Submission's annual grappling competition, and Dias took part in the competition in the 77 kg. category.
That's roughly about close to 170 lbs. if you Google it. True story.
As far as I know, there's no typo in the name "Afonso Ceguinho," but from the official site of X-Combat, it's easy to see how this fight with Dias played out for him, and considering that Dias had just lost his unbeaten record to Yui Chul Nam over a month earlier, one may not blame him from going back to his roots as a fighter.
Of course, if you really want to see what Dias can do in a Jiu-Jitsu-friendly setting, watch him work for the arm triangle and then watch what he tries to accomplish in order to complete a triangle choke from the mount.
Say what you will about his MMA ability, but just know that the kid knows his "Jits."
Dias' second task in the West Fight Submission competition on behalf of Nova Uniao was Adriano "Sargento" Carlos Goncalves, and while this match is not what you'd want for a submission clinic, this does show two guys versed well enough in that aspect of the sport to know how to fend off any and all attempts at a submission.
Actually, if you watch the video, Dias does well enough to take Sargento out of bounds a few times, but works a game plan that is effective enough to outpoint Sargento and win the bout, advancing onward to the final bout in the 77kg category.
Though Dias triumphed in this matchup, his next foe would prove a daunting task.
In the finals of the West Fight Submission 2009 no-gi grappling competition, the main objective is to go all out for the duration of the time and leave no doubt that the opponent did not prevail.
It took about a good 15 minutes or so for Mauricio Reis to defeat Dias in the final bout in the 77 kg. category, but a good awareness from Reis did him well enough to defeat Dias by way of a big takedown, as you may see in part two.
Nova Uniao would end their time at West Fight Submission with second-place honors, but the skills Dias picked up from his experience in this competition would serve him well as he moved on with his MMA career and looked to rebound from his lone career loss.
The video title says "Luis Carlos," but this is actually Sidney Lessa, otherwise mentioned by some as "Sidney Abidi," and he didn't last very long against Hacran Dias, who returned to MMA for his second and final scheduled fight of 2009 after losing to Yui Chul Nam on American Independence Day.
All Dias had to do was defend Lessa's single-leg takedown attempts in order to get Lessa to the ground, keep his composure while trying to transition and find a finish and when the time struck, he'd get the finish.
Not a minute after Lessa got Dias off of him did he give up his back.
That was the last mistake Lessa made that night, and Dias made him pay for it.
Eight times Dias has gone to decision, and five of those eight times have seen Dias use his always-improving skills to earn a unanimous decision.
This is one of those five times.
In March of 2010, after Dias' win over Lessa, Cesar Augusto Cunha Dias donned the white trunks against the submission wizard, but against a painful top game from Barnabe, there was very little Cunha could do to fend off the assult.
It actually starts off looking like Cunha is going to get the better of the first round, having defended a takedown from Dias and fended off an early submission attempt from Dias, but once Dias gets Cunha's back, things go south for Cunha, who keeps a good guard and tries to stay active, but cannot get the upper hand on Dias.
The decision win was academic, any way you slice it, and it bumped Dias up to 2-0 since his first pro loss.
Dias started off getting hit hard against Arielson Silva, but once he was able to force Silva down, it was all downhill from there for Silva.
Dias was able to soundly work on the ground and actively look for a finish, and when a barrage of ground-and-pound caused Silva to give up his back, it didn't take long for the choke to follow.
Big win for Dias?
Not really, since that fight was Silva's pro debut, but any time a fighter gets to a 5-0 run in his career, it does mean that the fighter is going in the right direction in his career.
Eddie Hoch needed to rebound after a loss to Lee Morrison, so the natural instinct was to take on Dias.
Surely, people who knew of Hoch's wrestling figured that this was supposed to be a cakewalk for Hoch, right?
Hoch got a hold of Dias, but never got him to the ground, instead being taken down at almost every turn by Dias, who showed excellent takedown defense without holding the ropes.
Of course, if you've seen his record, you know the gist of what happened to Hoch's neck next.
In typical Dias fashion, he sought the first-round finish, and even though this one came a little over three minutes into the fight, Dias proved that he can always find a way to win, regardless of what kind of task he faces.
If you ever wanted to see "Barnabe" on full display as a mixed martial artist, there's few better examples than his last fight against Paulo Dantas, who also fought Dias' teammate, Renan Barao.
Dias' Jiu-Jitsu is always on full display in the heat of a fight, but against Dantas, he had his striking, his ground-and-pound, his footwork and his takedowns on display throughout this bout, along with his toughness.
Normally in bouts, Dias will mount opponents, look for the arm-triangle, lose a good attempt at the arm-triangle and ground and pound his way into getting the rear-naked choke, despite often getting the back, getting the hooks in and winding up in the mount, but this time saw Dias nowhere near the choke despite looking for it.
What's a fella to do when he can't find his go-to choke?
He has to go to another one, and against Dantas, he implemented his striking in round two in order to accomplish that task.
This stands as Dias' most recent MMA fight to date, but if his performances prior to and including this one are any indicator, the UFC Featherweight division better watch out.
Once this kid steps in, the road to Jose Aldo is going to become a damn near impossible feat to accomplish.