Two very talented and exciting welterweights will step into the Octagon this Saturday (April 14, 2012) as the debuting Siyar Bahadurzada battles tough Brazilian Paulo Thiago on the main card of UFC on Fuel TV 2 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Bahadurzada, better known as "Siyar the Killer" is a top talent who has spent a large portion of his career training at Golden Glory in the Netherlands. He enters the UFC after knocking out his four opponents and winning the United Glory welterweight tournament.
Paulo Thiago has routinely found himself stepping into the cage against some of the best 170-pounders on the planet. He's faced everyone from Josh Koscheck to Jon Fitch to Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann and has kept his head above water in the promotion. He's coming off a strong showing at UFC 134 and is hoping to build a winning streak in the UFC against his debuting opponent.
Will Bahadurzada's crazy aggressive style translate successfully to the UFC? Or will the Brazilian Thiago have "The Killer's" number? What's the key to victory for both top welterweights?
Let's find out:
Record: 20-4-1 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
How he got here: Siyar, just 27 years old, has been fighting professionally for over 10 years now. He moved out to The Netherlands in 1999 and hasn't looked back in terms of his fighting career and training. "The Killer" won his first six fights, showcasing a powerful striking attack and a budding submission game and he became a staple of the Shooto promotion, fighting everywhere from Holland to Japan to even Brazil.
Since 2005, Bahadurzada has only lost two of his last 15 fights, both at middleweight to Sengoku stalwarts Jorge Santiago and Kazuo Misaki via submission.
The former Golden Glory fighter has bounced back strongly, however, winning six straight including the United Glory welterweight tournament title, beating UFC veterans John Alessio and Derrick Noble in the process via first round knockout.
He was set to make his UFC debut this past January against Erick Silva but had to back out because of injury and will finally be stepping into the Octagon this Saturday against Thiago.
How he gets it done: Bahadurzada is crazy aggressive in the stand-up department. He loves to wade forward and throw heavy hooks with both hands. He's not afraid to eat a shot to give them and when he gives them, they hurt. Expect to see "The Killer" try to overwhelm Thiago early with his punches and perhaps if he can close the distance, he'll be showcasing his vastly improving muay thai skills.
If the fight enters the clinch, Bahadurzada has some vicious knees which he can land at will to the body and perhaps the face if he can get both hands firmly behind Thiago's head. The second the Brazilian tries to escape the clinch, it's going to be right back to that crazy aggressive offensive attack.
Another thing to look out for is that Bahadurzada occasionally mixes in takedowns when he's winning striking exchanges or his opponent backs into the barrier. If it's late in a round, he could change levels and try to put Thiago on his back and land some punches there.
Record: 14-3 overall, 4-3 in the UFC
Key Losses: Martin Kampmann (UFC 115), Jon Fitch (UFC 100), Diego Sanchez (UFC 121)
How he got here: Paulo Thiago has been fighting professionally since 2005, but he's also been a part of Brazil's special police, which has garnered him added attention in his home country for the dangers he would face every day.
He won his first 10 fights and went on to face Josh Koscheck in his UFC debut where he pulled off one of biggest upsets of the year with a first round knockout victory. He was quickly thrown to the wolves against Jon Fitch at UFC 100 where he would win the first round but lose a decision.
Thiago has continued to face top competition, defeating Jacob Volkmann and Mike Swick impressively while dropping decisions to Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann.
He most recently soundly defeated David Mitchell in his native Brazil and he's hoping to continue that momentum against the very dangerous UFC newcomer.
How he gets it done: Thiago isn't the most aggressive fighter in the stand-up portion, but his technique has progressed over time and he's starting to become a very respectable counter striker. Thiago throws some solid kicks and mixes them up to the legs, body and head very well in the stand-up portion and his counter punches are always a threat.
Bahadurzada is extremely aggressive in the stand-up, often wading forwards and throwing looping hooks. If Thiago plays it smart, the former Golden Glory fighter's style will play right into his hands. Expect to see Thiago side-stepping Bahadurzada's attacks and looking to counter hard.
If he hurts the Afghani fighter or perhaps even if he doesn't, don't be surprised to see Thiago take this fight to the ground where he's got a strong submission game from top position. His D'Arce chokes are very dangerous and are his go-to move so if he finds himself on top on the ground, expect to a D'Aarce if his opponent leaves an opening.
Fight X-Factor: Clearly, the biggest X-Factor for this fight is the difference is striking styles for both men. Paulo Thiago is a solid counter puncher, but he's never had to deal with someone as wildly aggressive as Bahadurzada, who will be trying to take his head off from the first second of he fight. If Thiago can remain composed under pressure and land his strong counters and kicks, then he's likely going to be victorious but if he gets blitzed and can't get into a rhythm or even gets his defenses overrun, it will be all Bahadurzada.
Bottom Line: This is a scintillating match-up on the main card between two very talented welterweights. Thiago has proven time and time again he can hang with the best 170-pounders in the UFC but he's never really been able to string together a nice streak of victories in the promotion due to his strength of schedule. Bahadurzada, while he's making his UFC debut, is not someone to be overlooked. He doesn't have the name value of a Fitch or Koscheck or Kampmann, but Thiago will need to be just as vigilant. Both of these fighters' styles promise that this bout should be extremely entertaining and full of fireworks. This is some tremendous matchmaking right here. You won't want to miss this one.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 2? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!