Six Years As B.O.P.E. Has More Than Prepared Paulo Thiago for Combat

Gavin VincentCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2010

UFC welterweight Paulo Thiago comes into the UFC with an uncommonly unique background. With six years experience as a B.O.P.E. officer on the deadly streets of Brazil, hand-to-hand combat inside the Octagon is merely "fun and joy" for Thiago. The real danger is on the streets where he's conducted hostage rescues, bomb diffusions, gun seizures and drug busts.

So what is B.O.P.E.?

B.O.P.E. (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, Portuguese for Special Police Operations Battalion) is the elite special forces unit of the Military Police for the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Due to the nature of crime in favelas (Brazilian Portuguese for slum), B.O.P.E. units have extensive experience in urban warfare as well as progression in confined and restricted environments. They also utilizes equipment deemed more powerful than traditional civilian law enforcement. Utilizing more than 400 soldiers, B.O.P.E. is believed to be one of the most efficient military forces in the world.

Best said by Captain Wesley Santos, "When society needs help, they call the Police. When the Police need help, they call B.O.P.E. Thiago is a true B.O.P.E officer." Santos describes his best characteristic as being able to remain tranquil in dangerous situations.

"When I go out on an operation, I don't think about if I'm afraid of not returning home," said Thiago. "That's something that doesn't even go through my mind. What goes through my mind are the other members of my battalion and to complete the mission at all costs. To experience situations of great danger, I think hardens a man's spirit. He gains more tranquility in situations a normal person would lose control. I think that in this way, my military service helped my MMA a lot."

While fighting in Brazil, Thiago racked up 11 wins with no losses. In his UFC debut, he knocked out Josh Koscheck with a devastating uppercut that sent the highly regarded contender to the mat. To date, Thiago has never been finished and holds a 12-1 record; losing only to Koscheck's teammate, Jon Fitch.

His next challenge comes at UFC 109 when he fights another of Koscheck's American Kickboxing Academy teammates in welterweight contender Mike Swick.