Conor McGregor is one of the most creative and unorthodox strikers in mixed martial arts, but Jose Aldo and his team feel they have found someone who can emulate the Dubliner’s attacking style.
Jonas “Speed” Bilharinho is the featherweight champion of Brazilian based MMA league Jungle Fight. He is 6-0-1 as a professional and as far as team Aldo are concerned, he does an uncanny Conor McGregor impression – in the cage at least.
In an interview with mmajunkie.com, Bilharinho stated that he was approached by Aldo’s head coach Andre Pederneiras about the job. Pederneiras had noticed certain style similarities in Bilharinho and felt he could replicate the Irishman’s movements sufficiently for it to be of benefit to the UFC champ’s preparations.
Watching him fight one can certainly see some similarities. Bilharinho, like Conor, is a southpaw and operates out of an unusually wide stance. Also like Conor his style seems to be born of a feeling that one should take the “mixed” in mixed martial arts very literally. Bilharinho told mmajunkie.com that he has experimented with “ninjitsu, boxing, Muay Thai, jiu jitsu, wrestling” as well as karate and capoeira. It is certainly the right mix for someone hoping to mimic the aggressive, often whirling offensive style that Mcgregor has made his own.
Aldo and his team are following a grand tradition in combat sports. The practice of hiring sparring partners to impersonate an upcoming opponent has been around for decades in boxing. Despite the aforementioned similarities, Bilharinho will have his work cut out trying to get the unique McGregor down to a tee, but as the video below shows, he is putting in the work.
Another grand tradition in combat sports, however, is psychological warfare. Conor loves the mind games and in the build up to this fight so far he has been playing them at every opportunity. One has to wonder if perhaps this is, at least in part, an attempt by team Aldo to enter into battle on the psychological front themselves.
Let us know what you think. Is this for training purposes or rather a stunt to mess with Mcgregor’s head?