What’s up with UFC virgins getting thrown to the wolves? It seems like a growing trend: match an established UFC fighter up against some newb no one knows anything about. I get it when there’s an injury and Joe Silva needs a replacement post-haste, but that still doesn’t explain fights like Jardine / Alexander, Werdum / Dos Santos, Gonzaga / Hendricks, and Kongo / Al Turk. I’m sure there’s a bunch of other examples, but those are the ones that pop into my head.
It seems like nearly every UFC event has had one main card fight featuring some unknown being thrown into the deep end. It’s worth noting that these guys are managing to pull off a decent amount of upsets … is this why Joe Silva does it? Are these his Rocky bookings?
If they are, the latest Rocky is Paulo Thiago, who’ll be taking on Josh Koscheck next month at UFC 95. Thiago is gonna be a massive underdog coming into this fight, but at least it’s because Koscheck is so good and not because Thiago looks like he sucks a la Hendricks and Al Turk. Thiago has a 7-0 record (or 10-0 depending on who you believe). You can check out a highlight here which makes him look like a competent scrapper, but the most interesting thing I can see about him is his day job:
BOPE (Batalhao de Operacoes Policiais Especiais, or Special Police Operations Battalion) operates almost exclusively against the heavily-armed drug gangs of Rio de Janeiro. The unit is formed along military lines and uses much heavier armament than the regular Brazilian police force.
Favelas are characterised by mountainside locations with narrow winding streets that incline steeply. The terrain requires intensive special training and BOPE is widely considered to be one of the world’s elite urban combat units.
BOPE was recently the subject of a major film, Tropa de Elite (Elite Troop), based on a book by two serving officers which detailed the gritty realities of life with the unit. The uncompromising philosophy of the squad is demonstrated by its insignia, which consists of a skull with a dagger through it, on a background of crossed pistols.
Amnesty International has repeatedly accused BOPE of extra-judicial killings and use of excessive force.