After a flurry of quick finishes, Brandon Thatch looks to make his mark in UFC

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It's been eight fights and almost five years since welterweight Brandon (Rukus) Thatch suffered a loss.

Thatch (9-1) puts that record — and a growing reputation — on the line for the first time in the UFC on Wednesday when the 28-year-old from Denver takes on Justin (Fast Eddy) Edwards on a televised card in Indianapolis.

Thatch's nine wins took a combined time of 11 minutes 10 seconds.

"This guy has been the best welterweight outside the UFC for the last two years," said veteran Montreal promoter and manager Stephane Patry, who signed Thatch to his Instinct MMA promotion in 2011.

"I'm telling you, this guy can beat most of the guys in the top 10 right now, not in 10 fights, not in five fights, right now."

In the main event Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit and Martin (The Hitman) Kampmann meet in a matchup of top welterweight contenders.

Thatch, a prickly striker with whirling knees and fists, looks like a natural for the UFC. He wins, usually emphatically.

"I want to fight," he said. "I'm not going to dance around and run ... I want to fight in an impressive manner and I want people to remember me."

Thatch's three fights in Instinct MMA lasted a total of two minutes 28 seconds. And 1:55 of that came in a submission win over hard-nosed Martin (The Hammer) Grandmont in June 2012.

"Grandmont (at 12-7) doesn't have the best record but every single fight that he lost in his career was a war. Nobody ever dominated him," said Patry. "And Thatch made him look like his sister."

The performance prompted UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre to pick up the phone.

"'This kid Thatch, I want him in my next training camp for (Nick) Diaz,'" Patry, who used to manage St-Pierre, recalls the champion saying.

"Initially he was just supposed to be a sparring partner but he ended up being the main training partner of Georges for both the Diaz and Condit fights."

Long and lanky at six foot two and with elite striking skills, Thatch could mimic both opponents for GSP.

Edwards (9-2) appeared on Season 13 of "The Ultimate Fighter" and is 2-2 in the UFC, submitting veteran Josh (The Dentist) Neer most recently.

The five-foot-10 170-pounder will have to be on his toes early against Thatch.

Thatch's six KO wins each took less than a minute, including a 15-second stoppage of Patrick Vallee in December 2011. Only one of his fights has gone beyond the first round and that was the lone blemish on his record, a split-decision loss to Brandon Magana on a 2008 Strikeforce card at the Playboy Mansion.

"I don't expect these minute fights or anything like that," he said. "If it happens and I see an opening, I usually take it. I've been successful this far."

Thatch says the loss to Magana showed him he needed more tools.

"I was just a kickboxer trying to fight MMA. I thought I could get by with just my kickboxing experience. he took me down and laid on me and pretty much showed me what jiu-jitsu and wrestling were about. Since then, I've put my work into my wrestling and my jiu-jitsu and I'm now comfortable calling myself an MMA fighter versus just a kickboxer fighting MMA."

He is smart enough to know there is more work to be done on the grappling side. But Thatch says he has a good defensive game and can get back to his feet if needed.

He started martial arts at the age of three under his father Clarence Thatch, a fourth-degree black belt in karate who was a world champion in Sabaki (bare knuckle, full-contact karate) and kickboxing and also boxed professionally. Clarence's father also boxed.

Patry says Clarence taught his son well, shown by the fact that he won't start celebrating a win until he sees his opponent is OK.

"He's very respectful," Patry said.

Growing up, Brandon took part in football and swimming before focusing on MMA.

"It was something that I had always grown up doing and I was pretty good at," he said. "And it was something that came very naturally for me."

What started as a hobby and an outlet for energy then became something else.

"It had dawned on me that I could take it pretty far."

It took him to the UFC after a submission win in March over Mike Rhodes on a Resurrection Fighting Alliance card that followed his run in Instinct MMA.

Thatch has a flamboyant side, shown by a red mohawk for his fights.

He also used to make his entrance wearing a red furry vest made by his grandmother. But that has been shelved, so he can showcase his sponsors.

"I still have it, for sure," he said of the vest.

But he still works for a living, teaching striking classes at his gym.

"If you don't love this sport, it's not for you," he said. "It's not for the money and its not for the glamour and all that stuff. If you don't truly love this sport, you don't need to be in it because there's not a lot of money until you truly make it."

He's not complaining, however.

"Some people hate their job and every day I get to go to work and do something I love and get challenged."

In Denver, Thatch is part of the Elevation Fight Team with fellow UFC pros Nate (The Great) Marquardt, Cody (Donnybrook) Donovan, Jared (The Messenger) Hamman, Brendan (The Hybrid) Schaub, Neil Magny, Cat (Apha) Zingano, and Matt (The Immortal) Brown.

His coaches include Trevor Wittman, Leister Bowling and Eliot Marshall.

Organizations: Resurrection Fighting Alliance

Geographic location: Denver, Indianapolis, Montreal

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