Paulo Thiago is a fighter who could be forgiven if he asked the MMA community to cut him some slack. Having a fighter make his UFC debut against Josh Koscheck is unusual. Having him fight Jon Fitch in his subsequent fight is cruel. Therefore, Thiago has a case for being subjected to cruel and unusual treatment. But now, with a 3-3 UFC record, Thiago’s back may be up against the wall. That’s because, after losing to Martin Kampmann at UFC 115 and Diego Sanchez at UFC 121, Thiago can’t afford to lose to a relatively unknown opponent in David Mitchell.
I do have a confession I need to make about David Mitchell. When Mitchell made his UFC debut against T.J. Waldburger, he sported a record of 11-0… and his opponents were good enough that he earned himself a SILVA score of 43.42. That’s enough to be considered an “elite” welterweight in the world of MMA. That’s a higher rating than B.J. Penn, Carlos Condit, Jake Shields, and the list goes on. As much as I defend SILVA’s ratings of fighters like Paul Sass and Matt Mitrione, that’s a pretty tough one to justify.
After losing to Waldburger, Mitchell was knocked out of the elite tier, which means I can breathe easily for this fight. But this is actually a pretty interesting matchup. Both Mitchell and Thiago have a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu base; Mitchell has won nine fights by submission and Thiago has won eight. Neither man has ever been finished in a fight. On paper, their styles would appear to be pretty similar.
But on paper, Thiago’s fight history is just different than Mitchell’s. To determine Mitchell’s toughest career opponent, I’ll let you choose your pick of Waldburger, Bobby “King” Green, and War Machine. Yes, that War Machine. Thiago has obviously fought tougher competition than that… in fact, I would say that all of Thiago’s six UFC fights were against much tougher opposition than any of those three names.
And that’s where I think that Thiago is still a very good UFC welterweight fighter. There are a lot of UFC fighters who would love to have a trio of wins as good as Thiago’s wins against Koscheck, Jacob Volkmann, and Mike Swick. And while Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann aren’t the best fighters in the division, losing to them isn’t something to sneer at Thiago about.
I happen to think that Paulo Thiago has a more complete MMA game than David Mitchell does. Now, Thiago isn’t what one would call a world-class striker, but he does at least have a pair of wins by TKO, and is likely to be the better wrestler as well. As far as I see things, Mitchell will likely be confronted with the task of either out-striking Thiago or trying to submit Thiago from bottom position on the ground. Neither of those scenarios seem very likely to me.
SILVA PREDICTION: PAULO THIAGO (37.78) OVER DAVID MITCHELL (27.44)
I’m a sucker for fighters who have a law enforcement or military background. That means I’m a big fan of Brian Stann, Mirko Cro Cop, and Paulo Thiago, a member of the Brazilian special forces. Thiago has more experience against tougher opponents, a greater diversity of skills, and he should be the pick to win this fight.