Title Chaser: Meet LFA 88 headliner Vinicius de Jesus, the “Brazilian Bad Boy”

Vinicius de Jesus (right) is interviewed by Pat Militech (left) following a successful title win. Credit: Will Paul, CES

A name to be reckoned with for the last few years on the New England MMA scene, Brazil’s Vinicius de Jesus (9-2) competes for the Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) welterweight title at LFA 88 this week in what could be another massive step closer to fulfilling his longtime goal of being on the UFC roster.

De Jesus, 30, is currently the welterweight champion for Classic Entertainment & Sports (CES) MMA promotion, a regional organization based in Rhode Island that has produced UFC talents such as Rob Font, Tony Gravely, Mike Rodriguez and more.

CES recently inked a streaming agreement with the UFC’s proprietary streaming service, UFC Fight Pass, and de Jesus’ most recent fight saw him score a third-round knockout to defend his title on the platform. In doing so, de Jesus likely endeared himself to fans of the sport on such a large stage.

The welterweight is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, although one might be forgiven for not fully appreciating it with how dominant he is on the feet.

Born in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and now calling Connecticut his home, the CES champion hasn’t lost a professional fight since a 2017 split-decision to future UFC signee Joaquin Buckley (10-3). While his father, Vitor de Jesus, is his primary coach, de Jesus also spends training camps under the legendary tutelage of jiu jitsu icon Renzo Gracie at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, New York.

The “Brazilian Bad Boy” also owns his own gym in Connecticut.

Vinicius de Jesus weighs in ahead of a Bellator event. Credit: Bellator

De Jesus, now seven years into his career, holds a record of 9-2 as a professional mixed martial artist. The Brazilian has spent time on preliminary cards under the Bellator banner, where he went 3-1, but never cracked the main card.

Holding wins over top prospects such as Cage Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC) champion Jeremiah Wells (8-2-1) and Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) alumnus Tim Caron (10-2), de Jesus looks to add to his resume with his LFA debut.

“I’m ready to get momentum back. This fight will be a statement; I’m making a statement,” de Jesus told this author in an interview with MyMMANews

De Jesus is a winner of four straight fights, and the LFA title challenger has won eight of his last nine inside the cage.

The “Brazilian Bad Boy” has a 66% finishing rate, with four stoppages via KO/TKO and two via submission, both of which came by rear-naked choke.

In his fight with Wells at CES 55 in March of 2019, de Jesus dominated from start to finish in a unanimous decision victory, capturing the CES MMA welterweight title in the process.

De Jesus’ next fight, a title bout with fellow dominant prospect Jaleel Willis (12-2) at LFA 88, should have UFC brass watching closely.

Willis will hold the height and reach advantage in the LFA headliner, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the 5’10” de Jesus, who has dealt with a disadvantage in the reach department in all but one of his last four fights.

Look for this fight’s victor, the new owner of the vacant LFA welterweight title, to get a call from UFC President Dana White very soon.