The Rise and Fall: Jailton Almeida's Journey in the UFC

Last weekend we had the opportunity to see an interesting heavyweight match between Curtis Blaydes and Jailton Almeida whose streak was ended

by Sededin Dedovic
The Rise and Fall: Jailton Almeida's Journey in the UFC
© Megan Briggs / Getty Images

Jailton Almeida has emerged as a rising star in the brutal world of the UFC's heavyweight division, reeling off six straight victories. His dominance primarily stemmed from his grappling mastery, with a notable three wins secured by submission.

There were no big names there. However, his winning streak came to an abrupt end at UFC 299, where he suffered his first loss. So far he has dominated his opponents, using the highest Grappling in a very convincing performance.

The match against Derrick Lewis proved to be lackluster, as "Malhadinho" maintained control over Lewis for all five rounds on the ground. Because of this, the match was declared one of the most unattractive at that UFC event.

Starting his career at light heavyweight against Danilo Marques, Almeida quickly moved up to heavyweight for subsequent fights. And his physical constitution may not allow him to fight against the biggest heavyweights in the organization.

Curtis Blaydes offered a compelling critique of Almeida's grappling technique. Blaydes suggests that Almeida's reliance on pure arm and leg control reflects a perceived inadequacy of his strength. "I think at light heavyweight he could knock people down and start hitting them, he wouldn't have to just pin them down.

He wouldn't feel so much weaker. He thinks we're just that big and strong," Blaydes said in an interview with Mike Pendleton.

Curtis Blaydes and Jailton Almeida of Brazil fight during their heavyweight bout at UFC 299 at Kaseya Center on March 09, 2024© Megan Briggs / Getty Images

According to Blaydes, Almeida fails to utilize the full potential of his lower body, which could serve as a stable anchor, allowing for more effective strikes.

“I don't do that because I realize I'm heavier and when I knock you down I use my weight as an anchor and let my hands go at you. He just hasn't figured out how to use his lower body as an anchor to allow his arms to punch.

He uses his hands as an anchor, so he just squeezes you and controls you," added Curtis Blaydes. And considering Almeida's performance in past fights, it looks like Blaydes is giving some very relevant criticism. Blaydes' insights raise the question of whether Almeida should consider moving down a weight class, where his skills could find more versatility and impact.

However, such a move would require adjustments to accommodate the agility and speed of lighter opponents. Alternatively, Almeida could choose to stay at heavyweight and use his strategic ground game. By incorporating Blaydes' suggestions, he could improve his ability to strike effectively while maintaining control on the ground.

And by all accounts, he will remain in the heavy category. The decision on Almeida's future trajectory in the UFC rests on his willingness to adapt and evolve as a fighter as we have seen him successfully move from division to division countless times.

Jailton Almeida has generated a wave of hype since his UFC debut in early 2022. The Brazilian, known for his exceptional grappling and grappling skills, has been unstoppable in the UFC cage, but there have been questions about how he will fare against a fighter of neutralizing his fighting ability.

Answers were expected last November, but Curtis Blaydes was forced to withdraw from the match against Almeida and Derrick Lewis stepped in. The "Black Beast" was certainly not equipped to neutralize Almeida, and the Brazilian secured a relatively routine victory in that match.

However, UFC players remained adamant on Almeida vs. Blaydes. The fight was set for the UFC 299 event, and last weekend we witnessed this long-awaited showdown. It's somewhat unbelievable that Almeida managed to knock Blaydes down a whopping nine times during the first five minutes of the match.

However, those watching the match saw Almeida struggle to regain the control he had over previous opponents. Blaydes defended well, held out until the end of the round, fully aware of what awaited him in the rest of the fight.

At the start of the second round, Almeida tried another double leg kick but it went too low, finding himself in a precarious position after failing to take Blaydes down. Almeida tried to secure a grip behind Blaydes' legs, but the American fighter made a great save, using the opportunity to finish the match.

Blaydes recognized that Almeida had left himself in a vulnerable position, allowing Curtis to launch a series of powerful blows. Despite enduring several punches without releasing Blaydes' legs, Almeida was unable to sustain the onslaught and was knocked out just 36 seconds into the second round.

With this win, Blaydes maintained his position in the top 5 and is now aiming for the heavyweight title. Since joining the UFC in 2016, Blaydes has amassed 13 wins and four losses, but has never been champion.