While it's never been a consistent road to travel, every now and again the UFC sees something they like out of a TUF contestant, and decide to bring them into the promotion despite an early exit from the reality-tournament rounds. Such is the case with Guilherme Vasconcelos who, despite losing in the opening round to Wanderlei top pick Ricardo Abreu, will be making his UFC debut in July at UFC 175 against Luke Zachrich. The matchup was first announced on Twitter by David McKinney of the Kyote Ugly Radio Show.
Who is Guilherme Vasconcelos?
There's something to be said for starting your career by jumping into the deep end, and that's just what Vasconcelos has done. He may only be 3-1 in his two years as a professional, but his opponents carry a combined record of 65-30. They may not be household names, but Wendell Oliveira Marques, Daniel Acacio, and Elizu Zelaski dos Santos are tough dudes to be fighting right out of the gate. Otherwise, the 27-year old Vasconcelos trains out of Titi Jiu Jitsu under the BJJ ace Cristiano Lazzarini, himself a black belt under Vinicius Draculino. He appears to have recieved much of his early Jiu Jitsu training under Kazeka Muniz and was one of Muniz's top grappling instructors at his schools, before moving on to MMA.
What you should expect:
"Playboy" as he was known (now he goes by "Bomba"), for his earlier career as a model, is unquestionably a quality Jiu Jitsu grappler. If anything can be taken from his time on TUF, it's that he's patient and methodical at regaining position and working his way to his feet when on his back, even against strong, skilled opposition. It's the kind of technical skill that is rarely picked up through MMA training alone. When standing, his punches and kicks are crisp and powerful. His hands are fast, and he has decent basic striking defense (even moving his head while throwing). But, he's very predictable in his striking entries, and looks to box 9 times out of 10.
The lack of variety can get him in trouble against opponents smart enough to realize what's coming. He looks to have a decent takedown game to supplement his jiu jitsu and boxing, but perhaps not the most smothering top control. Still, that's sort of a secondary consideration in light of his well rounded skill set and quality grappling. His takedown defense can also be problematic, but his helped by his top shelf scrambling ability.
What this means for his debut:
If it were down to pure skills I'd say that Zachrich and Vasconcelos match up pretty well. Vasconcelos is very likely the better grappler, with Zachrich possessing better wrestling and takedown defense. But, when I picked Zachrich to beat Caio Magalhaes, that was more because of how down I was on Magalhaes, rather than up on Zachrich. If that fight taught me anything, it's that Zachrich may not have the pure athletic skills to compete with an agressive opponent at the UFC level. If Zachrich has an opportunity anywhere its in the fact that Vasconcelos can be a predictable striker. If Zachrich can employ a more creative arsenal, he could make something happen, but that doesn't fell terribly likely.
To get us better acquainted, here's Vasconcelos' last pre-TUF fight against Elizeu "Capoeira."