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Jackson-Wink fighter charged with hitting strip club employee with gun

Albuquerque-trained mixed martial artist Diego Brandao was arrested Friday after he allegedly hit a Downtown strip club employee in the face with a gun the day before, police said.

Brandao, 28, who fights in the UFC and trains at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA gym, is charged with aggravated battery and three counts of aggravated assault, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.


Diego Brandao (Metropolitan Detention Center)

Brandao reportedly argued with a DJ at Knockouts late Thursday before leaving the club briefly. When he returned, he was not allowed reentry “due to his behavior” and “attempted to force his way in by throwing punches” at employees, police said.

He left a second time and returned with a gun, at which point patrons of the club at Central and Third NW were moved into the bar “to shelter in place,” police said.

A witness told police that he, a Knockouts employee and another man were standing outside when they saw Brandao — spelled Barndao and Brandoa in some references — run toward them pointing a gun, according to the complaint. He referred to Brandao as “the UFC guy” and explained that a dancer had shown him an online photo of Brandao on her phone, police said.

Brandao reportedly pointed the gun at the patron’s chest and then at the employee before striking him in the face with the butt of the handgun, police said. The man said Brandao pointed the gun at the group once more before walking back to his vehicle, according to the complaint.

Brandao, a native of Brazil, has a professional record of 20-11. He lost his last fight on Jan. 2 in Las Vegas, Nev., at UFC 195 via a third round triangle choke to fellow featherweight Brian Ortega.

Two weeks after that fight, the UFC announced Brandao had failed a drug test taken prior to that fight due to traces of a marijuana metabolite. Because the test was considered an in-competition test (within 12 hours before or after a fight), he was later handed a temporary suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Had the test be conducted outside of that 24 hour period surrounding his fight, he would not have been penalized as marijuana is not prohibited out of competition.

Brandao was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center Friday. He bond was set at $15,000 cash or surety.