Friday, October 18th, Brazilian featherweight prospect Jonas Bilharinho will be in action for Future FC, where he will try to successfully restart his MMA career against Junior Duarte. He will be looking for the victory, as Bilharinho looks to jump back into the world MMA rankings. He represents Team Nogueira, a respected camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Striking: Bilharinho has a muay Thai background and it shows. He’s a very good overall striker with an exciting style that has gained him a cult following. Bilharinho is a technical striker that does all the little things correct. His footwork is very good and his movement on the feet is very fluid. It makes him harder to hit. Because of that movement, he cuts off the cage well and is able to score when his opponent is cornered by the age. When pursued by his opponents, he lands counters very well. In terms of actual striking, he’s quite precise with what he throws, especially since he’s a volume striker. He has knockout power, but tends to land in bunches and accumulates damage to the legs, body and head. He has very quick hands when he throws combos and has snappy kicks. In fact, two of his wins are by head kick knockout. Five of his seven wins come by TKO/KO. If you want to know how respected his striking is, just consider that Jose Aldo enlisted Bilharinho in his training camp for the Conor McGregor fight to mimic his striking style and how McGregor moves in the cage.
Agility/Athleticism: Bilharinho is a pretty gifted natural athlete, which is very important when it comes to his approach in the cage. He is very agile and has great lateral movement. He gets in and out with quickness, possessing good explosiveness with that movement. All of his movements gel into each other very efficiently, which is why he’s such a smooth fighter. He has underrated natural strength as well. He doesn’t have that overly muscular body, but he’s much stronger than he looks.
Long Layoff: Bilharinho has not fought since April of 2016. That is three years and six months ago. In MMA terms (and basically any sport ever), that is an eternity ago. There may be ring rust on Bilharinho’s ring rust. On top of that, he did not have the most active schedule before that. He fought twice in 2015, once in 2014 and once in 2013. So, since 2013, he’s fought just five total times. Bilharinho is just 29 years old, but he’s spent important prime athletic years away from the cage. He’s still young enough to make a run, but there is a lot of work ahead of him and he will need to put together a Donald Cerrone-like schedule.
Struggles When Stepping Up: In fights where Bilharinho has stepped up in competition level, he has not been the most convincing. When facing fellow prospect Mario Israel, Bilharinho barely scraped by him with a split decision that really could have gone either way. In his last fight, he lost to Valdines Silva via knockout. That’s even more shocking, considering Bilharinho is seen as a superior striker to most opponents. Perhaps his long layoff, as previously mentioned, has helped him develop out of that phase and he’s now ready to make that big step up, but based on what we know right now, he does struggle against his toughest opposition.
UFC Midcarder: Bilharinho is going to have an opportunity to make the UFC roster just based on his connections to Team Nogueira, Jose Aldo and his name recognition. It’s just a matter of time and wins before Sean Shelby can give him the call. When he gets to the UFC, it’s gonna be tough to know where he’s at, given his long layoff. However, if he comes back a more improved version of what we saw, he could definitely be a guy that hangs around the featherweight midcard for some time. He’ll be a guy that prelims on major cards but scores a main card slot on a Brazilian Fight Night card.