Rising heavyweight contender Jailton Almeida (18-2, 4-0 UFC) is set to make his first UFC Fight Night main event appearance on Saturday night. Almeida, currently unranked in ESPN’s divisional rankings, will take on ESPN’s No. 10 ranked heavyweight, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, at UFC Fight Night in Charlotte (3 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN+).
Since making his UFC debut in February 2022, Almeida, 31, has become a highly touted prospect, finishing all four of his opponents in the Octagon. ESPN recognized him as one of the top rookies in the UFC last year for his impressive record and his elite ability on the ground.
“What I like about Almeida’s ground game is his patience from position to position,” said Xtreme Couture MMA coach Eric Nicksick to ESPN. “He allows his ground and pound to do all his work for him. He’s never married to a particular position. He’ll cook you in one position with ground and pound until you give him his next route.”
Here is a look at the numbers behind Almeida’s hot start in the UFC, including his ability to make quick work of his opponents in the Octagon while generally undersized compared to his heavyweight peers.
Through his first four fights in the UFC, Almeida’s average fight time is an impressive five minutes and 21 seconds — meaning Almeida only needs just over a full round to end fights.
Only one of his UFC opponents, Shamil Abdurakhimov, whom he faced at UFC 283 in his home country of Brazil in January, managed to last more than a round with Almeida in the cage before losing by TKO. Almeida beat each of his three opponents in 2022 via a first-round finish. Two of those finishes came by way of submission, while the third was a TKO over Danilo Marques in his debut.
Almeida is smaller (in terms of weight) than any of the fighters ranked by ESPN in the heavyweight division. He fights at 232 pounds despite being in a division where the weight limit is 265 pounds. Almeida actually fought at light heavyweight in Dana White’s Contender Series — a rear-naked choke submission win over Nasrudin Nasrudinov — and his UFC debut. He made his UFC heavyweight debut in May 2022 against Parker Porter. For that fight, Almeida tipped the scales at just 224 pounds.
Although he is smaller than most opponents he will face going forward, the weight difference has not been an issue for him to this point in his UFC career. Almeida, a jiu-jitsu black belt, uses his speed and quickness to get fights to the ground and into a dominant position, where his opponent’s size advantage is nullified.
And speaking of dominating opponents, Almeida has had one of the most dominant starts we’ve seen from a fighter in the Octagon in recent memory.
Of Almeida’s 19 minutes and 55 seconds of total fight time in the UFC, he spent 18 minutes and 59 seconds of that in control time — meaning he was in a dominant position in the clinch, grappling or wrestling. There has only been 56 seconds of his total fight time that Almeida was not controlling an opponent.
None of Almeida’s previous opponents managed to record even a single second of control time against the grappling ace.
Almeida finishes off Nasrudinov with rear-naked choke
Jailton Almeida submits Nasrudin Nasrudinov with a rear-naked choke in the second round.
Almeida wastes no time in the Octagon trying to get his opponents on the mat. On average, Almeida shoots for a takedown within seven and a half seconds of the start of Round 1. Almeida excels at using his weight to control opponents while on the ground.
The longest Almeida has gone before shooting a takedown at the start of a fight is just 12 seconds against Anton Turkalj. And the quickest takedown attempt he logged came just three seconds into his fight against Parker Porter.
Because Almeida uses his aggressive wrestling style to get his opponents to the mat quickly, they have little opportunity to land strikes. Almeida’s opponents have landed only 24 total strikes combined through four fights, and 19 of those came in his fight against Turkalj. Of the 24 strikes Almeida has absorbed, only two were considered significant.
The last UFC fighter to have this kind of start with the promotion? Khamzat Chimaev, another grappling ace who sits between two weight classes. Like Almeida, Chimaev finished each of his first four opponents — getting two wins via submission and two wins by knockout. And, only one of those fights managed to make it into Round 2. Chimaev only absorbed one significant strike and three total strikes through his first four UFC fights.
It’s a small sample size, but if his body of work thus far is an indication, Almeida could be a problem for those ranked at the top in his division, just like Chimaev.