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Thomas Almeida, UFC 186's 'Fighter to Watch' tonight on PPV

Surging bantamweight prospect Thomas Almeida puts his 17-fight unbeaten streak on the line when he takes on Tristar Gym's Yves Jabouin in Montreal.

Photo courtesy of Guilherme Cruz / MMAFighting

Oh Canada!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brings a fractured UFC 186 fight card to Montreal, Quebec, Canada tonight (April 25, 2015).

Previously headlined by a Bantamweight title rematch between champion T.J. Dillashaw and Renan Barao, the lineup is now carried by a Flyweight fling between pound-for-pound linchpin and 125-pound titleholder Demetrious Johnson and No. 7-ranked contender Kyoji Horiguchi.

Hidden away, at the start of the pay-per-view (PPV) main card, is a bout featuring undefeated 135-pound contender Thomas Almeida. The 23-year-old Chutebox standout looks to bring his Octagon record to 2-0 when he faces UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran Yves Jabouin.

Almeida brings a bevvy of striking experience with him into the cage, collecting 13 knockout wins in his 18 professional fights. If you blink you might miss him. His fights are normally over quick.

The Brazilian blur began his journey at the age of 19. Fighting in his native Sao Paulo, Almeida barely edged five minutes of cage time, while dispatching three would-be foes. His victories didn't come without moments of peril.

As Almeida began to establish his dominance, and perfect his stand-up attack, Edmilson Atanasio nearly stopped the former with an ambush of punches, followed by a leg lock attempt. "Thominhas" weathered the storm, escaped the submission, got back to his feet and proceeded to sleep Atanasio with a right uppercut-left hook combination.

He then added Ivonei Pridonik to his expanding mixed martial arts (MMA) resume. Almeida toppled Pridonik with a beautiful left hook, followed by a right head kick.

With the Atanasio and Pridonik knockouts in tow, Almeida was starting to find his timing, pick his shots and stay out of harms way. His maturation in the cage was starting to take off and he kept busy. Chutebox head coach Andre Quiles found himself a new star.

Exactly two weeks after his win over Pridonik, Almeida met Samuel Lima Brito and cut off his oxygen with a sleep-inducing guillotine choke. Close to three months later, he dismissed Michel Igenho with strikes, bringing his streak of first-round finishes to six in a row.

Vander Correa was next in line and stood opposite Almeida at Predator FC 22. For the most part, up until he was dropped via a compact left hand, Correa was on the right path to a victory by sticking and moving. Almeida, though, eventually cut the cage off and promptly ended the fight early.

At 7-0, his record and distinct body of work caught the attention of upstart Texas-based fight promotion Legacy FC. Almeida's debut came against Cody Williams. The latter showed some promise in the first few flurries, but the Brazilian would get his timing down and take home the 'W' via a vicious elbow.

After his first victory on American soil, Almeida closed out a ridiculously busy 2012 (Donald Cerrone would be proud) in style, rocking Gilmar Sales with a left hook to notch his ninth consecutive win in the first round.

Outside of the Atanasio tilt, the streaking Almeida had hardly been tested. His striking was constantly improving, while his clinch work appeared to be very solid. He also spent eight months away from the sport following the Sales bout.

Almeida made up for the lost time in a hurry fighting four times in the span of 106 days. His first test in 2013 was Jose Alexandre, who lasted all of three minutes and 18 seconds. Then, came perhaps Almeida's signature win.

His knockout of Valdines Silva seriously rivals that of Cheick Kongo's come-from-behind victory over Pat Barry. I mean, what else is there to say? Almeida was dumped on his butt, downed with a hard right hand, tagged numerous times over and over, before snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

It made quite the statement.

Willidy Viana was no threat at all to Almeida and was trounced in 47 seconds. Cemar Silva, then, attempted his best Dan Henderson impression and withstood a litany of strikes to survive one round with his counterpart Almeida. This marked the first time Almeida had been taken out of the first round.

Silva eventually collapsed from a crippling liver blow four minutes into the second round.

Following the Silva win, he fought Octagon MMA's George Pacurariu at Legacy FC 26. Almeida won via first-round TKO. He then challenged for the MMA Super Heroes bantamweight strap in March 2014. After a back-and-forth, bloody battle with Vinicius Zani, Almeida emerged with his hand raised and belt wrapped around his waist.

What's better than one? Two. That's the number of belts he possessed after capturing the Legacy FC 135-pound championship in his utter destruction of Caio Machado.

It would be only a matter of time before he landed on Zuffa's radar. That's what 17 straight victories will do. Almeida made his UFC debut in November 2014 and it went off without a hitch. He nearly doubled up on the strikes his opponent, Tim Gorman, landed.

Almeida's next assignment will be the Haitian-Canadian Jabouin. "Tiger" is 12 years the elder of the Brazilian. To put that into context, Almeida was just nine years old when Jabouin made his professional MMA debut.

The Tristar-trained bantamweight has had a rough go of late, going 2-2 in his last four outings, with each loss coming by way of strikes. With that being said, it would be hard to see Jabouin offering up any sort of offense that Almeida hasn't seen before.

The Montreal-based fighter is simply a sacrificial lamb designed to usher the young stud up the bantamweight hierarchy. All Almeida has to do is show up.

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