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Paulo Thiago the Best, Most Overlooked Fighter at UFC 115

Paulo ThiagoThe best pound-for-pound fighter you'll see at UFC 115 isn't in the main event. Or the co-main event. And he's hardly gotten any attention leading up to his fight on Saturday night.

The best fighter at UFC 115 is Paulo Thiago, who in my opinion is the No. 5 welterweight in the world and is the only Top 10 fighter in any weight class on Saturday night's card. When Thiago steps into the Octagon against Martin Kampmann on Saturday night, we'll see a fighter who's 13-1, whose only loss is to the No. 2 welterweight in the world, Jon Fitch, and whose three victories since entering the UFC in 2009 include a Knockout of the Night-winning upset of Josh Koscheck and a Submission of the Night-winning upset of Mike Swick.

Despite those accomplishments, and the fact that just about everyone who really follows MMA views Thiago as one of the Top 10 welterweights in the world, we're not hearing much about Thiago heading into this fight. I think that's a shame.

Thiago has a great personal story to tell. In addition to his job as a UFC fighter, he still works for the elite special forces unit of Brazil's military police, and he's by all accounts a dedicated, hard-working public servant. There aren't many professional athletes who have side jobs like that one.

He's also got a great MMA story to tell. He's a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt who won 10 straight fights in Brazil to earn a UFC contract, and in beating Koscheck he picked up a $40,000 Knockout of the Night bonus check, a life-changing sum.

[UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Thiago's original contract was a one-fight deal. I've since been told the UFC doesn't do one-fight deals.]

It's certainly understandable that the main event between a couple of former champions, Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin, is the fight the UFC is really pushing at UFC 115. But I sure hope that if Thiago keeps winning, he's soon in a position where he's the guy being pushed as a main event fighter. He's certainly earned it.

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