UFC fighter Brandon Thatch hoping for knockout performance

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

There is a lot of stress that comes with being a professional fighter, though when one wins just about every bout via first-round finish, it's about as stress-free as one could expect.

And that's exactly what Brandon Thatch, who meets Benson Henderson on Saturday in the five-round welterweight main event of a UFC card at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo., has been doing.

Brandon Thatch has six KOs or TKOs in less than a minute and has had three of them in fewer than 20 seconds. (Getty)
Brandon Thatch has six KOs or TKOs in less than a minute and has had three of them in fewer than 20 seconds. (Getty)

Thatch has gone to the post 11 times as a pro, including twice previously in the UFC. All but one of those –his only loss, a three-round decision to Brandon Magana in his second pro fight – ended in the first round.

Thatch has scored six KOs or TKOs in less than a minute and has had three of them in fewer than 20 seconds.

It's taken him a bit longer in the UFC to get his work done, but not much. He won Knockout of the Night in his debut on Aug. 28, 2013, when he stopped Justin Edwards with a knee in 1:23. And he forced Paolo Thiago to tap in 2:10 of their Nov. 9, 2013, bout.

"The accumulation of fast stoppages, or wins, comes from me capitalizing on opportunities," Thatch said. "It's not something I'm trying to force, or that I plan to happen. But at the same time, if I see an opening or an opportunity, I'm very quick to jump on it and I've been very good at capitalizing on it. That's definitely from my calculated striking, or calculated violence, which is something I've acquired through years of training."

"Calculated violence" is a term Thatch coined. It's something meant to distance himself from the backyard brawlers who just fire away and hope something connects.

Thatch wants to take a more studious approach to his work, which is where calculated violence comes in.

"People ask me to describe my style and that's how I describe it," Thatch said. "There are guys out there who are brawlers who throw big, wide, looping punches. I pride myself on being very calculated. A fight is violent, but it doesn't have to be just crazy swinging. When I'm done, I want people to look back and go, 'Man, that was pretty.' It's violence, but it's methodical and calculated and based off the style of what I think it means to be a thoughtful, well-trained martial artist."

Thatch has numerous tattoos, but just one of them holds great significance for him. On his hip, he has a tattoo of the phrase, "Pleasure laced with pain."

It's a reminder of how arduous life can be, and the friend who helped pull him out of a deep funk.

"That comes from a dark time in my life when I was injured and sitting on my couch and I wasn't taking care of myself and I was depressed," Thatch said. "I was injured and I didn't know if I'd ever be a fighter again, or be athletic. I was in a dark place. A friend came over and talked to me and kind of pulled me out of the trash can I was in.

"He said, 'Brandon, without our bad days, our good days wouldn't feel so good. They wouldn't mean so much. It's pleasure laced with pain, and if you don't start to dig yourself out of this hole you're in, no one else can.' That's where I started taking care of myself again and rehabbing and getting back to where I needed to be. So that [tattoo] is a reminder to me."

Thatch will get his toughest challenge, as well as the biggest opportunity of his life, when he meets Henderson, the former UFC lightweight champion.

Brandon Thatch punches Paulo Thiago in their UFC welterweight bout in November 2013. (Getty)
Brandon Thatch punches Paulo Thiago in their UFC welterweight bout in November 2013. (Getty)

Henderson agreed to fight Thatch on short notice – and move up to welterweight to do it – after Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson had to pull out of the fight because of an injury.

Thatch isn't ranked in the UFC's deep welterweight division, in part because he hasn't fought since the 2013 victory over Thiago because of injuries.

A win over an elite fighter such as Henderson will introduce him to a wider world.

"He's doing something very good for me by taking this fight," Thatch said. "He has a name fans know and I've been a fan of his for a long time and enjoyed watching him fight. He's a known commodity; a guy people are familiar with and care about.

"I'm grateful he stepped up to the plate and took the fight, because this fight easily could have been scratched had he not done so. And then I'd have been sitting on the couch again and not had a fight."

But despite his respect for Henderson, Thatch hopes to add him to that growing list of first-round victims.

Thatch, who lives in the Denver area, will be fighting in front of a hometown crowd and is eager to show his skills in front of his friends and family.

"Any time you fight at home, there is pressure," Thatch said. "But it's good pressure, as far as I'm concerned. It's nothing I haven't done before, and I like to think I do well under that pressure.

"But let's be honest: It doesn't matter where the fight is. When the door closes, it's him and me and that's it. When it's go time, you have to go out and get the job done and take advantage of the opportunity you've been given, no matter where the fight may be."

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