Unless you're a #UFC superstar like #ConorMcgregor or #RondaRousey, mainstream pop culture publications like People and TMZ usually don't pay attention to you if you're an average or upcoming and mixed martial artist. However, that all changes the day you become the beefy boy toy for a Grammy-nominated singing sensation.
Guilherme "Bomba" Vasconcelos may not be a household name, but the Brazilian is popping up in gossip headlines thanks to his newfound romance with popstar turned MMA fanatic Demi Lovato. That's a lot of exposure for a welterweight fighting on a #Bellator preliminary card.
Before he faces off with John Mercurio at #Bellator170 in Los Angeles next weekend, get to know Guilherme Vasconcelos.
A Crack at the Show
The 30-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt's journey through MMA is a familiar story. According to his UFC.com bio, he began training in jiu-jitsu as a teenager in Brazil, going on to become a world champion in the sport. His affinity for the art turned into a career in the cage, as Vasconcelos clawed his way to a crack at the big show after cutting his teeth on the regional scene.
A professional fighter since 2012, Vasconcelos got a chance to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, the last person chosen to join coach Chael Sonnen's team. The brief brush with reality television was an opportunity of a lifetime for more than a few reasons, as Vasconcelos developed a close friendship with Sonnen because he was one of the few contestants who could speak English.
The Brazilian's run on the show got off to a good start, defeating Markus Perez via submission in the preliminary round. Although a decision loss to Ricardo Abreu prevented Vasconcelos from advancing to the semifinals, he did everything in his power to get the victory, which is why the bout was named Fight of the Season.
Vasconcelos would also get a shot in the Octagon thanks to his pal from West Linn. Prior to his fight against Luke Zachrich at UFC 175, he talked to MMA Fighting about his relationship with Sonnen following The Ultimate Fighter.
"Sonnen invited me to live at his house and train with him for three months. He’s very important in my life and in my career," Vasconcelos said. "He believed in me so much he called Dana White and asked him a personal favor. There’s more at stake because of it. I want to prove he was right for believing in me."
Unfortunately, Vasconcelos came up short against Zachrich during their 2014 bout, forcing the jiu-jitsu ace back to the drawing board.
Road to Bellator
After a short ride through the UFC, Vasconcelos went back to his native Brazil, which proved to be just what he needed to kick his career into gear. Vasconcelos finished four straight opponents to go on a four-fight win streak before appearing on a card headlined by veteran Pedro Rizzo. The TUF alum suffered a brief setback, losing a close split decision to Marcio Santos.
The loss, however, didn't stop Vasconcelos from getting an opportunity to compete on the highly-anticipated Bellator 157/Dynamite 2 card in 2016.
The Brazilian took advantage of the situation and made a statement by submitting Jordan Dowdy with a rear naked choke in the first round.
Now at 8-3, Vasconcelos is getting another chance to not only show off his skills for Bellator, but also live out his personal dream of fighting at an event headlined by his good friend and mentor.
“It’s one of the reasons it took me a while to fight again,” Vasconcelos recently told MMA Junkie ahead of his bout at Bellator 170. “I asked to fight on the same card. We’re good friends. We were talking on the phone yesterday. He asked me how my weight was, and I said it was under control."
Outside of the cage, Vasconcelos is of course making waves due to his love life. He was rumored to be hooking up with Lovato following her high profile breakup with Wilmer Valderrama over the summer, but that romance seemed short lived since she reportedly later started dating former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
Lovato's latest MMA romance went on to become tabloid fodder when she seemingly ended her relationship with Rockhold over the holidays. Vasconcelos then put himself back into the picture, quite literally on Instagram, thanks to a festive New Year's shot featuring the reunited lovebirds.
According to Us Weekly, the pair trains together at Jay Glazer's Unbreakable Performance Center in West Hollywood.
Although the tabloids can't get enough of this fight couple, don't expect Vasconcelos to dish on his love life.
“I’m not even going to talk too much about that, but I don’t even care,” Vasconcelos told MMA Junkie. “I don’t care about that. My focus on my fight is too strong, so I don’t pay it too much attention.”