No one understands the fleeting nature of momentum any better than Dhiego Lima.
The 32-year-old Goiania, Brazil, native finds himself on the rebound as he heads into his UFC on ESPN 25 welterweight showcase with Matt Brown this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Lima enters the cage with a 4-6 record across two stints in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He has not competed since he dropped a unanimous decision to Belal Muhammad at UFC 258 on Feb. 13, the setback closing the book on his three-fight winning streak. It was his longest run of sustained success in nearly a decade.
As Lima approaches his battle with one of the sport’s foremost purveyors of violence, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He paid his dues.
While moving toward a full-time career in mixed martial arts, Lima once worked as a lumber and kitchen associate at Home Depot in order to make ends meet. He now co-owns and operates an American Top Team affiliate in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where he trains alongside older brother and former Bellator MMA champion Douglas Lima.
2. He was successful from the start.
Lima made his professional MMA debut less than a week after his 21st birthday, as he submitted Steve Montgomery with a third-round triangle choke at a Fight Party event on Feb. 5, 2010 in Greenville, South Carolina. He started his career with six consecutive finishes and won nine of his first 10 bouts, a decision loss to Nathan Coy under the Maximum Fighting Championship banner his only hiccup.
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3. The reality show format suited him.
The Brazilian was a two-time finalist on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. He eliminated Adam Stroup, Tim Williams and Roger Zapata before being knocked out by Eddie Gordon in the Season 19 final. Lima returned to the show three-plus years later and took out Hayder Hassan, Gilbert Smith and Tom Gallicchio before submitting to a rear-naked choke from Jesse Taylor in the Season 25 final.
4. He satisfied his championship hunger on the regional scene.
Lima remains one of only seven men who have held to undisputed Titan Fighting Championship welterweight crown. Muhammad, Jason Jackson, Jose Caceres, Uros Jurisic, Michael Graves and Dilano Taylor are the others. Lima captured the title with a five-round unanimous decision over David Michaud on June 10, 2016, then surrendered it in a first-round technical knockout loss to Jackson six months later.
5. His world-class grappling skills rarely make an appearance.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Lima has delivered four of his 15 career victories by submission. However, all four of those wins took place in his first five professional appearances. Lima has not executed a submission since he dismissed Josh Taveirne with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their MFC 29 pairing on April 8, 2011.