Thomas De Almeida, the top bantamweight prospect in MMA and one of the brightest up-and-comers in the entire sport, signed with the UFC on Tuesday, according to reports.
The news originally broke via Brazilian site MMA Premium (translation h/t Guilherme Cruz of MMAFighting.com).
The signing comes on the heels of Almeida's June 20 win over Caio Machado in the Legacy Fighting Championship promotion. The win netted Almeida the LFC bantamweight belt, and now, it has apparently netted him a contract with the UFC.
Almeida is 17-0 as a professional mixed martial artist, despite being only 22 years old. The Brazilian has not faced a consistently impressive level of competition, but he has, quite simply, decimated every comer since he began his career.
He first fought for Legacy Fighting Championship in 2012 and has gone 3-0 in the respected regional promotion, with each victory coming not only by finish, but by first-round knockout.
Almeida has jumped around from promotion to promotion but has finished his last 11 fights by knockout and all but two of those in the first round.
From a numbers perspective, that finishing rate might be the most eye-popping aspect of Almeida's resume. He has 13 wins by knockout or technical knockout and four victories by way of submission. No Almeida fight has ever gone to decision.
Almeida is known for a very heavy and precise striking game, manifested in strong combos that all appear to have the ability to end fights. He also has outstanding takedown defense and solid jiu-jitsu skills.
Much of the skill set was on display against Machado, where a punishing shot to the liver ended the contest at 4:17 of the opening round. Machado, a jiu-jitsu standout, was unable to get the fight to the ground.
Almeida's violent attack is honed at the famed Chute Boxe academy in Brazil, which has seen better days but may be experiencing a resurgence, thanks in part to Almeida's rising star.
There was no announcement on who Almeida might face in his UFC debut, but it stands to reason he will be thrown into the deeper part of the division right off the bat.