Brandon Thatch: “I’m going to fight whomever the UFC puts in front of me and prepare for that fight only”
By Bryan Levick
Just six months ago Brandon Thatch was preparing to face Mike Rhodes in the main event of Resurrection Fighting Alliance 7 in his home state of Colorado. Thatch had drawn some attention to himself due to the time he spent training with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and the rest of the team at the Tri-Star Gym in Montreal.
Up until the fight in RFA, Thatch had a professional record of 8-1 with 8 first round finishes. The longest he had competed in one of his bouts was 4:12. Six of those contests ended in less than 53 seconds. It was only a matter of time before the UFC came calling and with the help of RFA President Ed Soares that call came after his first round submission victory over Rhodes.
Thatcher signed with the UFC and they scheduled him to face Justin Edwards in August on UFC Fight Night 27: Condit vs. Kampmann. It took Thatch just 83 seconds to become the first man to finish Edwards via TKO, earn himself $50k for the knockout of the night bonus and become an instant fan favorite. To say Thatch was overjoyed with the experience is putting it mildly.
“It was very surreal and over way too fast,” Thatch told Alchemist Radio. “You dream of the time you’re going to walk into the UFC cage and it was amazing, it was unreal and then it was over. It was too fast, I wish I could’ve bottled that up and saved some of that feeling for later because it was unreal.”
Although Thatch had 10 fights coming into his UFC debut with the last one on national television there had to be a lot going on in his mind. He must have had some butterflies in his stomach not knowing what to expect once he entered the building and warmed up backstage for his UFC debut.
“I was very aware of what was going down,” Thatch said.” My coach Leister Bowling had videos of Burt Watson helping prepare fighters backstage and all of the little stuff I would see and come in contact with. Everything went very smooth and I noticed that there was no pressure. I was there to fight and that was my job. Everything else went super clean. I was blown away with how fluid everything went, the UFC is very professional and has it down to a science.”
Thatch is currently training with the Elevation Fight Team in Denver where fighters like Nate Marquardt, Cat Zingano and Neil Magny learn under the tutelage of some of the sport’s top coaches. The fact that the gym is close to home and filled with top talent has certainly helped ease Thatch’s transition into the UFC. His striking is what makes him dangerous, but he’s putting in a lot of work on his ground game as well. Fighting is something he now considers his job and he plans on being around a long time.
“Right now Elliot Marshall over at Easton Training Center is in charge of my grappling,” offered Thatch. “I’m training at Elevation Fight Team which is a collective group of Colorado fighters. You’re allowed to train at other fight camps, but we have our fight team practices that you have to attend. You’re encouraged to do your drilling at other places, but it’s more or less a place that has the best fighters in Colorado to help push each other. Vinny Lopez is one of my closest training partners and we’ve had Matt Brown come train with us.”
“I’m already in the gym, it’s one of those things where this has become a career for me, it’s no longer a hobby of mine. It’s no longer going to be camp it’s going to be life. You can take a few days off to get the butterflies out and go eat normal like a human being with your family and friends, but then its right back to work.”
RFA has done an outstanding job of becoming somewhat of a feeder system for the UFC. With Ed Soares of Blackhouse MMA serving as President they have the relationship and connections within the UFC to help get the necessary eyeballs on the RFA competitors. Fighters such as James Krause, Tim Elliott and TUF 18 contestant Jessamyn Duke have all fought in the RFA Octagon before entering the UFC’s version.
“RFA was very good to me and Ed Soares was awesome,” the 28-year-old Thatch said. “He came up to me before I had even fought for him and said it was every MMA fighters dream to make it to the UFC and he would do everything he could to help get me there. He also said he would promote me and the RFA and he did just that. I had a great fight and before the fight they did a lot of promotion for me and the fight itself. I think that was a big part in helping me get to the UFC.”
Now that the honeymoon is over and he is now a UFC veteran the next questions is what is he going to do to top his first fight. The UFC has already booked him against Paulo Thiago at UFC Fight Night 32 on November 9 in Brazil. Competing in one of the toughest divisions within the UFC, Thatch has a huge test ahead of him, but he’s not looking past Thiago despite the UFC showing so much confidence in him.
“I believe the 170lb division is one of the most talented divisions in the UFC,” admitted the Denver native. “It’s one of the more dangerous; you have to have the cardio to go five rounds and the power to knock people out. I’m just taking things one fight at a time and not looking too far ahead. I’m in a position where I’m going to fight whomever they put in front of me and I’m going to prepare for that fight and that fight only.”
Thiago is well known for his fantastic ground game, but he too made quite a splash during his UFC debut. Way back in February of 2009 Thiago took on perennial welterweight contender Josh Koscheck at UFC 95 in England. No one gave Thiago much of a chance, but he didn’t waste his opportunity as he knocked Koscheck out in just 3:29. So while he may rely on his submissions he does possess power in his hands as well. Many feel Thiago has the advantage because he’s fighting at home, but Thatch has his reasons why he feels that is not accurate.
“He’s a dangerous guy, I’ve watched some tape on him and I’ve watched him as a fan,” Thatch stated. “He’s a dangerous dude, but anyone in the UFC is dangerous. Anyone in the UFC deserves to be there and I’m not looking past him by any means. I just need to prepare with my coaches and do what I’m told and I feel the outcome will handle itself and I’ll come out on top. As far as him having the upper hand in Brazil, it’s just going to push me and motivate me more. To be the underdog is always a motivating factor. The fans themselves will be a little nerve racking, but at the same time I’ll make sure that nervous energy works for me and not against me.”