Jonas ‘Speed’ Bilharinho gained notoriety last year when it was revealed that Jose Aldo had employed him to mimic the unusual movements of Conor McGregor in sparring.
The Team Nogueira featherweight was first brought into the Nova Uniao camp ahead of UFC 189, at which Aldo was originally scheduled to meet McGregor, but ‘Scarface’ never made it to that event after he was injured sparring teammate Alcides Nunes and forced to withdraw.
However, Bilharinho must have impressed the Brazilian legend with his impersonation because he was brought back into the fold in the lead-up to UFC 194 and Aldo’s rescheduled bout with ‘The Notorious’.
Aldo didn’t get much time to show what he had learned moving with Bilharinho though, as he was decimated in just 13 seconds by a beautifully delivered left-hand counter from the concrete-fisted Dubliner.
But it would seem that this result hasn’t damaged Bilharinho’s reputation for McGregor mimicry.
On Monday, Mark Henry, coach of McGregor’s upcoming opponent Eddie Alvarez, posted an interesting photo to Twitter. Pictured alongside Alvarez was the 26-year-old Bilharinho. “Awesome work with champ,” wrote Henry, before tagging both his charge and the crafty Rio native.
It’s unclear at this time whether Bilharinho has been a regular part of Alvarez’s preparations for this fight or not. His participation may even have been limited to a single session. But it’s hard to escape the assumption that he was brought in to give the UFC lightweight champ a feel for McGregor’s style.
— Mark Henry (@MarkCoachmark13) October 24, 2016
A tall, rangy southpaw who likes to utilise a variety of body different body kicks, Bilharinho’s proportions, body type and style do bear similarities those of McGregor. Speaking to MMAJunkie last year however, the former Jungle Fight featherweight champion said that he did make small adjustments to make himself even more like the Irishman when he was part of Aldo’s camp.
“I simply removed some strikes of mine that he doesn’t use, and I added some of the strikes that he uses, which I normally don’t,” he said. “That’s it, basically – I removed a few strikes, and added some others.”
Check out the latest episode of The Fighting Irish podcast in which Seamus Raftery speaks to John Connor, co-founder of the Irish Strength Institute, about his work with Conor McGregor.