Both AXS TV commentators Michael Schiavello and Pat Miletich think that Thomas Almeida is the future in MMA and he is about to blow up. It is easy to see why they are so excited by him. He has all of the tools you need inside of the cage to dominate. That is exactly what he has done in his short career so far.
Almeida took his first professional fight in May of 2011 and won in the first round via RNC. The first round finish is his specialty ever since as he has now notched 15 of them in his 17 wins. That is right, in just over three years he has fought 17 times. He is averaging almost six fights a year.
Of course it is easy to do that when you take care of business quickly and efficiently. Right before Almeida’s fight with Caio Machado for the vacant Legacy bantamweight title Schiavello informed us that Almeida had spent a total of 67 minutes in his previous 16 fights.
In typical Almeida fashion he finished Machado in the first round logging another 4:17 in the cage bringing him to essentially 72 minutes total in his 17 fights. To give you an idea of how little time that is, Georges St-Pierre spent 75 minutes in the octagon in his last three fights alone.
It is easy to fight multiple times in a year when you take little to no damage and you end the fight quickly. Which is what he did in this fight with Machado who brought a 5-0 record with him into this title fight. He himself turned pro in November of 2011 just six months after Almeida but has less than a third of his fights.
Even though he had only five fights coming into this title fight, Machado is a talented and well-rounded fighter. He has an excellent ground game and an ever improving striking one. When you combine that with his solid wrestling, he is a tough challenge for most fighters. Almeida has that something special that you see in future stars.
As good as Machado’s standup is it was not close to Almeida’s and you saw that in this fight. Before the fight started he had told Schiavello and Miletich that he was going to stand and trade with Almeida. Both commentators thought that it would be a bad idea if he tried to that in this fight.
It only took Machado 30 seconds before he initiated a clinch and tried to get the fight to the ground. He pushed Almeida to the cage. Almeida spent very little time with his back to the cage as he spun Machado around and reversed their positions. Once Almeida had him against the cage he quickly landed an inside elbow and just missed with a spinning one when they separated.
They would end up in a clinch a few more times in the round and every time Almeida landed solid hard elbows and knees. Several of the knees where to the liver area as well as to the head. When they separated, Almeida would effortlessly switch to punches, kicks and knees. He threw everything in some kind of combination and it did while going forwards and backwards. These are all very high level striking skills to be showcasing at only 22 years old.
With just under two minutes left in the round Almeida landed a hard left hand to the body and right uppercut to the head. Machado showed a very strong chin and was able to fight his way off of the cage. He tried again for the takedown and was only able to drive Almeida back against the cage. They quickly separated.
After a few more striking exchanges Machado shot in for a single leg. He locked his hands and then quickly bailed on the attempt and went for a clinch. That result in Machado getting spun against the cage and eating a couple of elbows to the face.
After landing the elbows Almeida backed away. As Machado came in Almeida faked and feinted a few times and continued to back up. Machado kept walking forward. Almeida then stopped about six feet from the cage and planted himself. He blocked a left head kick from Machado and then the right front kicked that followed he deflected with his hands as he slid slightly to his left. That left him with his feet set and Machado twisted around with his right foot in the air from the kick across his body. Almeida threw the perfectly timed and setup counter right hand that landed square. As Almeida threw that punch he moved into position at the same time and threw the left hook to the liver that instantly crumpled Machado. Even as he was falling Almeida landed the right outside leg kick.
Almeida landed a couple of strikes on the ground but they were unnecessary as the liver shot ended it all. Somewhere Bas Rutten was smiling. The final combo of righthand to the head, left-hand to the liver and outside leg kick had Schiavello and Miletich evoking Ernesto Hoost and his famous combos.
That is what Almeida’s performances in the cage do to people. He gets them excited. There is that extra something about him that is electric. When you combine his skills sets with his dedicated hard work and you get a champion.
He won the Legacy bantamweight title but do not be surprised if he never defends it. He is destined for the UFC and that call could come at any time.
Personally, I would like to see him matched up with Pedro Munhoz who just stopped the previous Legacy bantamweight champ Matt Hobar. Munhoz and Almeida would be pure excitement in the octagon. Wherever he fights next, whether it is defending his new Legacy title or making that big UFC debut, you do not want to miss it.
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