2012 World MMA Bantamweight Scouting Report: #9 - Leandro Higo

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Name: 22px-flag_of_brazil Leandro Higo
Nickname: Pitbull
Age: 22
Height: 5' 6"
Location:
Mossoró, Brazil

In the modern era of mixed martial arts, fighting at the highest level isn't just a grown man's game anymore. Experience may have had its advantages in the past, but thanks to a better understanding of what it takes to become an elite fighter -- younger fighters are entering the sport with a repertoire of weapons that surpasses what we've seen from prospects in the past.

Brazil's Leandro Higo (9-1) fits that profile perfectly. At the time when an American teenager would make a visit to the DMV to get his or her driver's license, Leandro was beginning his MMA career, relying on his strong Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills and aggressive stand-up game to topple the opposition.

Despite fighting physically larger competition for most of his career, Higo has been tough to beat, winning his first six professional bouts, most at 145 lbs., before running into 2011 World MMA featherweight prospect Marcos Vinicius (7-2) last May. After over a year away from the ring following the defeat, the now 22-year-old returned in September at bantamweight, defeating Wagner Campos (11-3) by decision at WFE 10 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Over this past weekend, Higo entered the WFE cage once again, this time at WFE 11, to battle Erinaldo 'Pitbull' dos Santos Rodrigues. As expected, Higo bested the Gracie Fusion fighter over three rounds to win by unanimous decision.

Surprisingly, Higo has achieved all of his success as a part-time fighter with little assistance. The Mossoró, Brazil-based fighter lives in a region of Brazil that lacks the high-level striking coaches he could find in other parts of the country, and his job and family tie him to the area for training. With the help of highly-touted prospect Rony 'Jason' Mariano (10-3) and Team One Jiu-Jitsu, however, Higo has progressed to where he stands today. An impressive feat considering the lack of resources.

Limitations aside, Higo still possesses a solid takedown game coupled with adept submission skills. On the feet, Higo has no problems landing accurately and evading his opponent's counter attacks with ease. It's surprising considering the limited training he's received. To tie it all together, Higo boasts solid conditioning and speed, making him one of the more well-rounded bantamweights on our countdown.

Under a major Brazilian promotion like WFE, there's no doubt that Higo will finally get the fights he deserves. The cut down to 135 lbs. will also benefit him greatly in his quest to become relevant. In fact, it could be the move he needs to rise through the ranks and get the attention he needs to progress to a major promotion like the UFC. Higo could be one of the sleepers in our countdown with the chops to leap many of our higher ranked prospects. If only he could get the spotlight he deserves.

Video footage of Leandro Higo in action after the jump...

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Leandro Higo vs. Erinaldo Pitbull
WFE 11 - December 16, 2011

Leandro Higo vs. Wagner Campos
WFE 10 - September 16, 2011

Leandro Higo vs. Marcos Vinicius
Recife FC 2 - May 20, 2010


Leandro Higo vs. Unknown


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