With UFC 134 fast approaching, all eyes seem to be on the main event of Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami. But one fighter who deserves more attention than he's getting is Paulo Thiago. At first glance, his record might indicate he belongs exactly where he is, but a deeper look reveals different.
Despite dropping his last two bouts against Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann by way of decision, Paulo Thiago has literally been a main-event fighter in every single one of his six UFC appearances—which have included Knockout of the Night, Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night honors.
While a 3-3 record in the UFC might not be the most impressive, Thiago has only faced established game opponents since his very first fight back at UFC 95, with the exception of welcoming Jacob Volkmann to the UFC (who got a main event fight in his first appearance by the way).
The point can be made that UFC 134 already has a stacked main card with Shogun Rua vs. Forrest Griffin and Minotauro Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub as co-main events and TUF winner Ross Pearson taking on undefeated Edson Barboza. But Luiz Cane vs Stanislav Nedkov are supposed to "round out" the UFC's epic return to Brazil.
Not to take anything away from Cane or Nedkov, but one is an impressive journeyman at best who has not even cracked the top 10, and the other is making his UFC debut. The lineup raises the question: "What the hell is Paulo Thiago doing in the Facebook prelims?"
Paulo Thiago has been one fight away from a title shot on more than one occasion, never once been stopped in his entire career and knocked out Josh Koscheck and submitted Mike Swick. If Dan Hardy and Chris Lytle can headline a UFC Live on Versus card, then Paulo Thiago has done enough to earn a spot on the main card—or at the very least the televised prelims on Spike TV. And that's the bottom line.
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