SAO PAULO -- Paulo Thiago will still have a lot of work to do after he leaves the Octagon on Saturday night.
Thiago takes on Russian welterweight Gasan Umalatov at the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale card in Sao Paulo. Then he will fly to Brasilia, capital of Brazil, Sunday to join the special force police for soccer's World Cup, which starts on June 12.
"I’m going to Brasilia after this fight to help the police during the World Cup," Thiago told MMAFighting.com. "I will also train at Constrictor Team in Brasilia, and then I’ll return to Rio after the World Cup."
Thiago is a member of BOPE, elite squad of military police in Brazil, and continues to work as a cop even after signing with the UFC. This is going to be his first time working at a huge event like the World Cup, and he is hoping for a peaceful event.
During the Confederations Cup in 2013 in Brazil, hundreds of thousands protested around the country against the government, who spent billions on soccer stadiums while the population asked for better health care and education.
"I hope there’s not too much riot during the World Cup," he said. "Brazil is living a time of protests, the population is fighting for their rights, but you can’t protest with vandalism. If there’s vandalism, the police needs to act and we’re going to be there to help them to stop this."
Before thinking about protests and vandalism, though, Thiago has to focus on his bout against Umalatov.
"My opponent is a Russian guy and he’s really good, but I’m ready to go there and do a great fight," he said. "I’m ready to stop beat him up standing, get some takedowns and do my jiu-jitsu to get the win."
The Brazilian welterweight has his back against the proverbial UFC wall. With only one win over the past four fights, Thiago probably needs the victory to keep his job, and he’s confident that he’s better than Umalatov in every aspect of the game.
"He has a good stand-up game, a good boxing, but he pretty much uses his striking to get closer and work on the clinch," he said. "He has a good ground game, but I will keep this standing. If we go to the ground, my takedowns from the clinch are better than his, and I have a better jiu-jitsu."
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