World MMA Light Heavyweight Scouting Report: #1 - Marcos Rogerio "Pezao" de Lima

After an exhaustive survey of the worldwide light heavyweight prospect pool that involved over fifty names initially, we've finally worked our way down to the #1 ranked prospect on our 2011 World MMA Light Heavyweight Scouting Report. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (8-0) takes our top spot as one of the most highly-anticipated light heavyweight prospects we've seen come out of Brazil in a few years. While the lighter weight classes have been flooded by Brazilian talent in the past, the 205 pound weight class only produces two, maybe three, solid prospects every couple of years, the most recent being Thiago Silva and Rafael Cavalcante.

If you're a man who loves brutal Muay Thai beatdowns, devastating knockout power, and pedal to the metal idealogy in a fighter's gameplan, you're in for a treat.

Offensive Skills: Pezao's arsenal consists of your standard combination of Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu that we see from most fighters coming out of Brazil. The significant difference between Pezao and the rest of pack is that he packs wrecking balls in his hands and dynamite in his kicks. The heavily-credentialed Muay Thai striker turned mixed martial artist is one of the most aggressive strikers on our countdown, and his intimidating style and demeanor, i.e. swagger, in the ring is great to watch.

His success mostly stems from the fact that he has a lot of diversity in his attacks. Not only does he aggressively hunt for knockouts, but he's shown destructive force in his kicking game. Front kicks, leg kicks, body kicks... you think of it, he's probably knocked someone out with it. His front kicks are especially impressive as he's adept at landing on the chin, and he's very good at masking his initial attack and blasting away at his opponent's legs. Think of Pezao as a much powerful version of Edson Barboza.

Defensive Skills: Pezao relies heavily on his intimidating style and constant pressure as his means to avoiding damage. Most opponents can't handle the pressure of his offensive onslaught, and the idea of trying to slip a punch through Pezao's fury is a risky bet to take. One punch is likely all he needs to land, thus most opponents try to tie him up or maintain a safe distance.

Unfortunately, there isn't really a way to keep your body from being brutalized by Pezao's attacks. He uses an equally damaging distance kicking game to keep opponents away as well, utilizing front kicks and leg kicks to pepper away at his opponent's body and legs. Eventually, his opponents can't handle the pain, and they begin to fade... wobbling around the ring or opening up their defenses to one of Pezao's patented rushes.

While his offense is his best defense, his actual defense mechanisms such as his takedown defense and ability to reverse positions on the ground are admirable. His size is tough for opponents to handle in the clinch, and even power grapplers like Paulo Filho had a difficult time putting him down and controlling him. He'll make you work hard for a ground war, and that usually plays to his advantage as the fight drags on.

Progression: His ground game is his biggest weakness, but as we saw in the Paulo Filho bout -- he has improved enough to know how to escape dangerous positions off his back. He was able to escape Filho's top control game by sliding toward the fence and wall-walking his way to his feet, but Filho was gasping for air and already in a dream world from Pezao's brutal kicks and punches on the feet.

It's hard to say where Pezao is currently at in his development on the floor, but he does have one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu trainers in the world to help him succeed.

Environment: Pezao is a member of Barbosa Jiu-Jitsu in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The team is headed by legendary Brazilian jiu-jitsu trainer Marco Barbosa, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and Judo black belt who is considered one of the most credentialed trainers in the world in both arts. The camp also houses welterweight prospect Gil de Freitas, and Thiago Silva has been known to seek out Marco Barbosa to sharpen his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.

Lightweight Welterweight Middleweight
#1 - Thiago Michel
#2 - Ricardo Tirloni
#3 - Magno Almeida
#4 - Ui Cheol Nam
#5 - Henrique Mello
#6 - Reza Madadi
#7 - Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 - Ole Laursen
#9 - Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 - Al Iaquinta
#1 - Yuri Villefort
#2 - Alex Garcia
#3 - Erick Silva
#4 - Douglas Lima
#5 - Luis "Sapo" Santos
#6 - Jesse Juarez
#7 - Gunnar Nelson
#8 - Quinn Mulhern
#9 - Alberto Mina
#10 - Joe Ray
#1 - Papy Abedi
#2 - Chris Weidman
#3 - Vitor Vianna
#4 - Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 - Bruno Santos
#6 - Costantinos Philippou
#7 - Jordan Smith
#8 - Uriah Hall
#9 - Victor O'Donnell
#10 - Assan Njie

Light Heavyweight
#1 - Marcos Pezao
#2 - Gian Villante
#3 - Jimi Manuwa
#4 - Glover Teixeira
#5 - Jan Blachowicz
#6 - Yoel Romero
#7 - Ryan Jimmo
#8 - Nik Fekete
#9 - Marcus Vanttinen
#10 - Ronny Markes

Potential: Pezao could easily be a Thiago Silva-type of talent in the UFC if he continues to progress his grappling ability. In my mind, he could surpass what Thiago Silva brings to the table as he has the power of Silva with the added bonus of a devastating clinch and kicking game. Don't get me wrong, Silva has those attributes as well, but it's difficult to ignore the background and experience that Pezao has in the Muay Thai ring.

Under the tutelage of Marco Barbosa, I expect to see Pezao make strides in his jiu-jitsu ground game in the coming year, and I fully expect the UFC to sign him by late 2011, possible for the UFC Rio card. Hopefully visa issues won't be a concern for his future with the promotion, but one thing is for certain -- Pezao will make waves in the UFC.

Video:

Paulo Filho vs Marcos Rogério Pezão


Marcos Pezao Highlight


Marcos Rogerio "Pezao" de Lima vs. Daniel Villegas

Pezão x Silverio

Marcos Pezão (M-Fire/Predator) vs Eduardo Maiorino (UDL)

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