Leandro Ataides has faced two high caliber opponents inside the ONE FC cage and he has finished them both in brutal fashion. The Brazilian’s last two fights have lasted a grand total of 5:06 with Bryan Rafiq and Tatsuya Mizuno getting knocked out in the opening round.
Against Mizuno in Manila, the Brazilian went for broke right from the opening bell, swarming all over his more experienced opponent and putting him away with an unanswered barrage of punches. The stoppage came at the 0:47 mark and the DREAM and K-1 veteran was left dazed and defenseless.
Mizuno has been in with some of the hardest hitting heavyweights in the world including Mirko Filipovic and Sergei Kharitonov, but no one has ever knocked him out faster than Ataides did. Amazingly, the Brazilian is not even known as a stand-up fighter, as he is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt and feels his recent performances will have surprised a few people.
"I am very strong with my submissions and everyone knows I am good on the ground, but maybe they did not know that I can hit hard too. Now they do!"
Although Ataides served notice of his ability to do damage standing up when he finished Rafiq with a perfectly timed right hand at ONE FC: "Warrior Spirit" last year, no one, least of all his opponent, was prepared for what would follow at ONE FC: "Rise of Heroes" last weekend.
Mizuno was billed as the best opponent Ataides had ever faced but the Brazilian showed no fear as he walked him down and let fly with an onslaught of punches which forced the Japanese veteran to cover up, run away and eventually collapse in a heap on the floor.
The win sees Ataides’ record improve to 7-0 and cements his status as the most exciting middleweight prospect on the planet, but he still believes he has plenty of work to do.
"When I came back to Evolve MMA the trainers laughed at me because they were not expecting me to fight like that and they said I made some mistakes. They have had hundreds of Muay Thai fights and are champions from Thailand, so their standard is very high and I feel like I am still a beginner in my striking compared to them."
While some of Ataides’ trainers might have been surprised at the way he went after Mizuno, the Brazilian says that once a fight starts, he simply flips a switch and goes for broke.
"I am very aggressive. I don’t want to win a decision and in eight fights I only went to a decision once. I train very hard and when I hear the bell I just want to finish the fight, I don’t want to wait one round or two rounds and I am always in a hurry to get the KO or submission."
Ataides’ coach Heath Sims was cageside to witness his student’s demolition of Mizuno and says he was as surprised as anyone at the speed with which the Brazilian finished the fight.
"The game plan for Leandro going into this fight was to be aggressive and put Mizuno on the back foot, but what he did inside the cage was pure instinct. Once he senses an opportunity to finish an opponent he is absolutely ruthless. All the coaches at Evolve MMA are world champions and there are always adjustments that they can make to improve a fighter, but Leandro has natural aggression."
There is no question that Ataides is now the main man in the middleweight division and he hopes that two emphatic wins will be enough to secure a title shot.
"I want to fight for the title, that is my goal. I have fought two tough opponents and I have knocked them both out so I hope my next fight will be for the belt and I am ready to fight any middleweight ONE FC wants me to."