Paulo Thiago is a bigger badass than you are.
Aside from being a professional mixed martial artist he spends his days as a member of Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais in his native Brazil. BOPE, the commonly used acronym, is an elite special police force specializing in law enforcement, urban warfare and counter-terrorism.
In other words, when the police force needs help they call Thiago and his band of heavily armed brothers.
By comparison, it makes fighting in a cage against another world class athlete to be a bit of a stroll in the park. Thiago will look to continue his trek to a potential welterweight title shot as he takes on highly regarded contender Martin Kampmann on the main card of UFC 115 on June 12. In between training sessions he took some time out to discuss getting high on adrenaline, Josh Koscheck’s mouth, and trading gunfire with drug dealers.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I’m utterly fascinated by your day job as a member of the special police force in Brazil. Tell me how you got involved with them originally?
Paulo Thiago: I joined the military police seven years ago, approximately. I was not worried about getting a stable job. I was looking for adrenaline and found myself useful for society developing that kind of activity. I grew mature as a citizen and learned a lot of limits that life puts on us.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Share with me a brief story about the most dangerous mission or task you have been involved in.
Paulo Thiago: So many of them. I couldn’t pick just one…drug dealers, robbers, and all kinds of bad guys.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Why do you choose to be a part of such a potentially harmful job when no one is forcing you to do so?
Paulo Thiago: I just love doing that. There is no way I could explain the sensation of accomplishing a special operations mission. I think it could be a physiological reason. The need for controlled adrenaline.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): How does it compare to how you feel when you step in the cage for a fight in front of a large crowd?
Paulo Thiago: I’m so focused at that time that I can hardly notice the crowd. I need to be connected to my opponent.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): How has training camp been going? Are you 100 percent healthy and where have you been training at for this fight?
Paulo Thiago: I feel great. I’ve got no injuries and no pains. I’ve been training in my hometown, Brasilia, with my teammates at the Constrictor Team. I also spent some time training at the X-Gym with "Feijao" (Cavalcante), Andre Galvao, "Jacare" (Souza), and others.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Are you able to divide your time properly between mixed martial arts and your job with the police force? Does your training ever suffer due to lack of time?
Paulo Thiago: I have a very good relationship with my commanders and the Military Police gives me all the support I need to train. I’ve been working a little bit less so I can dedicate myself to MMA as I should.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You’re coming off an impressive win over Mike Swick. How satisfying was that win for you given the fact that you had fought two of his teammates before (Koscheck, Fitch) and their coaching staff likely had a pretty good gauge on your strengths and weaknesses going into the fight?
Paulo Thiago: Of course, a victory over an opponent feels good but makes no difference if it comes over teammate fighters. They all deserve respect. After all, we are MMA workers trying to find our places in this hard environment. About my strengths and weaknesses, they might change from a fight to another so it could be dangerous for any coach to get stuck on that.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You’re facing Martin Kampmann at UFC 115. To me, Kampmann has technical boxing but he demonstrates poor head movement at times. It certainly cost him against Paul Daley, but it has been evident in some of the fights he’s won as well. Is this something that you have noticed in your preparations?
Paulo Thiago: I’d rather don’t speak over the matter. It’s part of my strategy.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you have a prediction as to the outcome of your fight with Kampmann?
Paulo Thiago: I naturally expect to be the winner and wish I could submit him or knock him out.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Are you disappointed that Josh Koscheck is getting the next title shot against GSP, given that you have a victory over him?
Paulo Thiago: Not at all. His road is longer than mine and he deserves this shot. I’ll be waiting for my turn.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like Koscheck deserved to get the next title shot?
Paulo Thiago: Sure, who else could it be at this time? I think that by now he’s the one who’s got the better chance against GSP.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Koscheck is known to speak his mind and loves to talk trash with his opponents. Is that something you simply ignore or does that aspect of fighting bother you?
Paulo Thiago: You know what really worries me? Trading shot fires with drug dealers carrying submachine guns on the streets. Trash talking is part of the show and it’s up to each fighter. I’m not able to judge anybody’s behavior.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): How do you think the eventual fight between Koscheck and Georges St. Pierre plays out? Who wins and why?
Paulo Thiago: I wouldn’t take a risk making such prediction, but I suppose there would be a lot of punches, takedowns, and ground game. Both have an exceptional cardio as well.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): How do you feel like you would matchup against GSP if given the chance to fight him one day?
Paulo Thiago: I don’t even know if he’s going to be there by the time I get the title shot, but whoever is going to be the champion is going to have a hard time fighting me.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): If you are fortunate enough to come away with a victory over Kampmann is there an opponent you would prefer to face next? Perhaps the winner of the fight between Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves?
Paulo Thiago: That’s not up to me. I never think this way. I can’t "prefer" fighting someone. Dana (White) and Joe Silva tell me who it’s going to be and I’ll prepare myself for that specific opponent.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Any message you would like to pass along to your fans out there or any sponsors you would like to thank at this time?
Paulo Thiago: I’d like to thank SAN and Bad Boy for the support and all my Constrictor teammates for the training they provided me. I’m also grateful for my commanders at the Military Police in Brasilia for all the understanding and sharing my career. For my fans, just trust me and be sure you are one of my main motivations to go on.
Derek Bolender is a frequent contributor to MMAmania.com. He is also a freelance writer who has contributed to outlets such as CBSSports.com, FoxSports.com, and FIGHT! Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekBolender.