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Thursday, May 23, 2024

UFC’s 25 biggest Brazilian fighters of all time

You’ll be able to’t inform the story of combined martial arts with out speaking about Brazil.

A rustic that’s hosted Vale Tudo (a Portuguese time period for “something goes”) fights because the Nineteen Twenties, it’s no shock to see that the martial arts mecca of Brazil continues to hold a powerful presence all through MMA.

Whether or not there’s a struggle card taking place in Russia or Japan, it’s nonetheless not unusual to see Brazilian opponents being flown in to check the native expertise. The Final Preventing Championship, most famously, has had a significant Brazilian presence since Royce Gracie gained the primary event at UFC 1.

The UFC, which was partially created by Brazilians like Rorion Gracie again in 1993, initially served as not simply an incredible spectacle — but in addition a profitable approach of promoting the effectiveness of each Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the Gracie model alike.

The game would rapidly evolve into the twenty first century, which noticed the UFC, underneath its new possession of the Fertitta’s and Zuffa, steadily take over the panorama as they helped convey MMA to the mainstream.

Realizing the significance of Brazil and its historical past with the group, the UFC would find yourself repaying Brazil’s devoted by investing within the Brazilian market with the whole lot from a plethora of stay reveals to expertise cultivation within the type of “The Final Fighter: Brasil” throughout its world-expansion period.

With the UFC set to host yet one more pay-per-view in Brazil, it’s a terrific excuse to take a stroll down reminiscence lane to pay homage to the good Brazilian fighters of our time.

It’s virtually unfairly inconceivable to checklist and rank all of Brazil’s best, so I restricted this checklist to Brazilians who’ve competed within the UFC. Although this caveat will seemingly tinker with the rankings on condition that a variety of these fighters had unbelievable accomplishments exterior of the octagon, I did my finest to acknowledge every combatant and their contribution to the panorama as a complete.

I purposely left Royce Gracie off the checklist with the intention to make room for all of the fighters that he opened the proverbial door for, however make no mistake: This checklist doesn’t seemingly exist with out what he was in a position to accomplish together with his early event wins.

As ordinary, these lists replicate my preferences and biases and are usually not meant to function some final authority. That mentioned, I really feel very strongly about not solely my checklist – but in addition my honorable mentions on the finish.

So, with out additional ado …


Gleison Tibau

Gleison Tibau

Making the minimize to kick off this checklist is longtime UFC light-weight wins chief Gleison Tibau.

You may not see a variety of Tibau footage being performed on spotlight reels, however this Brazilian powerhouse was quietly one of many hardest outs at 155 kilos all through the promotion’s golden period.

Not solely is Tibau the one fighter who has an argument for beating the undefeated phenom, Khabib Nurmagomedov, however the American High Group consultant nonetheless holds the file for probably the most takedowns landed in UFC light-weight historical past (84).

Tibau, at the very least in response to Joe Rogan, can be one of many largest lightweights we’ve seen contact down within the UFC’s octagon.


Edson Barboza

Could 15, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Edson Barboza celebrates his TKO victory in opposition to Shane Burgos at Toyota Middle. Necessary Credit score: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports activities

Additionally making the minimize as a non-champion who by no means challenged for a UFC title is Brazilian warhorse, Edson Barboza.

Regardless of surprisingly by no means difficult for a belt, nobody must be questioning Barboza’s place on this checklist.

Except for having an inventory of knockouts that deserves its personal article, Barboza continues to wreak havoc throughout two of the game’s deepest division effectively over a decade since his UFC debut.

From following the footsteps of Brazilians who got here earlier than by scoring leg kick knockouts to setting his personal bar with spinning kick highlights that may stand the check of time, Barboza stays a stalwart for Brazil’s best when speaking about hanging in MMA.


Demian Maia

Demian Maia

Relating to specialists who’ve discovered success within the octagon, it’s tough to disclaim Demian Maia for what he was in a position to accomplish with Brazilian jiu-jitsu in MMA’s fashionable period.

After combined success at and failed bid for the UFC title at 185 kilos, Maia moved all the way down to the welterweight division the place he would expertise an unbelievable profession renaissance.

Seamlessly melding his jiu-jitsu with some newfound wrestling expertise into one stable sword, Maia was in a position to take the division by storm, setting submission data within the course of.

Maia might have by no means gained a UFC title regardless of his two tries at-bat, however the Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend nonetheless holds standings for having the third most submission wins in UFC historical past.


Ronaldo Souza

Talking of Brazilian jiu-jitsu legends who did effectively within the octagon, how will you deny Ronaldo Souza a spot on this checklist?

An athletic phenom who tore via the Gi and No-Gi grappling world, “Jacare” ultimately made his approach over to MMA to use himself equally.

Not solely did Souza’s athleticism seamlessly lend itself to the wrestling side of MMA, however the former Strikeforce champion was additionally in a position to choose up hanging expertise at a shocking clip.

Souza’s lack of UFC gold retains him from being ranked increased on this checklist, although it must be famous that it was accidents and unlucky matchmaking circumstances that unfairly stored Souza away from a deserved title shot throughout his prime (a time when nobody wished to struggle Jacare).


Cris Cyborg

Say what you’ll about girls’s divisions north of 135 kilos, however I’d be remiss if I left Cris Cyborg off of this checklist.

Regardless that a variety of Cyborg’s success got here underneath Scott Coker-ran promotions like Strikeforce and Bellator, her arrival within the UFC marked a breaking of boundaries that many wouldn’t have thought attainable given her historical past with UFC president, Dana White.

Cyborg might have come up brief in an odd struggle with Amanda Nunes again at UFC 232, however that doesn’t change the constructive influence she’s had on girls’s MMA.


Renan Barao

Renan Barao

Breaking the highest 20 is former UFC bantamweight champion, Renan Barao.

Regardless of most remembering “The Baron” for his precipitous decline after his sequence with T.J. Dillashaw, many overlook that Barao was using a formidable 32-fight profitable streak headed into that title struggle.

And although we by no means received a title-unification bout with Dominick Cruz throughout Barao’s reign, the Nova Uniao fighter was nonetheless in a position to ship some insanely entertaining finishes throughout his tenure.


Jessica Andrade

Jessica Andrade

Preventing in nearly each girls’s division that’s ever existed within the UFC, it’s tough to disclaim former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade a spot on this checklist.

A powerhouse who began her UFC profession at 135 kilos, “Bate Estaca” would ultimately work her approach all the way down to strawweight, the place she was in a position to safe a world title reverse Rose Namajunas in entrance of her house nation of Brazil.

Andrade additionally managed to work her technique to a title shot at flyweight, however continues to marketing campaign at 115 kilos.


Murilo Bustamante

Securing a agency spot on this checklist is Brazil’s first UFC titleholder, Murilo Bustamante.

Though many are in all probability shouting the identify “Royce Gracie” at this text, permit me to remind you that up till Bustamante’s win over Dave Menne again at UFC 35, Brazil may solely have declare to UFC event champions (on condition that weight lessons like middleweight weren’t formally rolled out within the UFC till 2001 per the New Jersey Athletic Management Board).

After using his underrated boxing expertise to beat the UFC’s first middleweight champion, Menne, Bustamante then defended his title in opposition to Group Quest standout Matt Linland (whom Bustamante needed to submit twice as a result of a significant error on the a part of referee John McCarthy).

Like many champions in the course of the UFC’s early days, Bustamante ended up departing from the group as a result of contract points. Not solely did Bustamante by no means lose his UFC middleweight title within the octagon, however the Brazilian High Group founder arguably beat prime variations of Chuck Liddell and Rampage Jackson in nip-tuck affairs north of 185 kilos.


Marco Ruas

Talking of Brazilian pioneers who don’t get talked about sufficient, there was no approach I wasn’t going to incorporate Marco Ruas on this checklist.

Except for following Royce Gracie to grow to be Brazil’s second UFC event champion at UFC 7, Ruas was the primary Brazilian fighter to efficiently cross-train and apply a number of martial arts on the highest stage (one thing that was thought of controversial on the time amongst his fellow Brazilian martial artist).

Regardless of being largely billed as a Luta Livre fighter (which is Brazilian submission wrestling), Ruas was additionally a really expert striker who popularized the whole lot from foot stomps to leg kicks within the octagon.

“Should you grapple me, I punch and kick you. Should you punch and kick me, I grapple you. There’s no approach out.” – Marco Ruas


Alexandre Pantoja

Alexandre Pantoja

Rating lively champions on these kinds of lists could be tough, however I’ve a tough time not firmly rating considered one of my favourite fighters, Alexandre Pantoja.

Except for being a perennially underrated expertise who needed to take the lengthy street to get right here, Pantoja has confirmed to be an all-action entertainer in victory or defeat.

Not solely has Pantoja delivered a few of the biggest flyweight fights en path to capturing the division’s title, however the Brazilian stays a task mannequin for followers and future fighters alike, reminding us what we will obtain regardless of a few of life’s darker struggles.


Deiveson Figueiredo

Deiveson Figueiredo

Narrowly notching a prime 15 spot is a former flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo.

Arguably probably the most devastating puncher that the division has seen since John Lineker, Figueiredo was an absolute pressure at 125 kilos.

Figueiredo struggled to make the load and carry out constantly towards the tip of his flyweight run, however “Deus da Guerra” continues to efficiently marketing campaign up a division at bantamweight.


Alex Pereira

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 13: Alex Pereira of Brazil reacts to defeating Jamahal Hill of their mild heavyweight championship struggle at T-Cell Enviornment on April 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Picture by Carmen Mandato/Getty Pictures)

Regardless of his distinctive UFC rise making it tough for a lot of to each rank and gauge his potential, there’s no denying the fight sports activities resume that Alex Pereira has been in a position to accrue in such a short while.

Between being a two-division Glory kickboxing champion and having severe historical past with Israel Adesanya, Pereira was fast-tracked to a title shot after just a few profitable showings within the octagon.

After going 1-1 with Adesanya and profitable a title at 185 kilos, Pereira moved as much as mild heavyweight and located instant success in opposition to three former champions en path to securing one other undisputed UFC world championship.

Akin to the earlier three alternatives, the e book remains to be being written on Pereira’s profession.


Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Regardless that a majority of his accolades befell throughout his tenure with Satisfaction Preventing Championships, there is no such thing as a approach I’m not mentioning Brazil’s most beloved heavyweight champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Not solely did Nogueira’s deceptively clever recreation affect the likes of different Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters like Demian Maia and Rani Yahya, however “Huge Nog” was additionally in a position to safe wins (in addition to a UFC interim heavyweight title) reverse former champions like Tim Sylvia and Randy Couture.

The insane mileage of Nogueira ultimately caught as much as him in a rush as soon as he hit the post-prime stage of his profession, however the legendary Brazilian nonetheless did his finest to maintain shocking us till the tip. And although I want he retired in entrance of his house nation again at UFC 134, he produced a reminiscence that nobody in that crowd will quickly overlook.


Wanderlei Silva

Akin to the prior choice, Wanderlei Silva is one other fighter who did his finest work in different organizations – however nonetheless deserves a stable spot on this checklist.

In truth, earlier than Silva started terrorizing Satisfaction Preventing Championship’s middleweight division, “The Axe Assassin” had already competed contained in the UFC’s octagon in opposition to some notable names. However with future taking Silva over to Japan, the Brazilian bruiser wouldn’t struggle for the North American promotion till UFC 79, the place he was instantly matched up with arch-rival Chuck Liddell.

Though Silva misplaced greater than he gained within the UFC, the previous Satisfaction champ was nonetheless in a position to placed on some unbelievable performances – together with an unforgettable barnburner with Brian Stann that closed out each of their UFC careers.


Glover Teixeira

Coming in simply exterior of the highest 10 is MMA’s biggest sportsman, Glover Teixeira.

Not solely does Teixeira maintain the file for many finishes in mild heavyweight historical past (13), however his title-winning effort reverse Jan Blachowicz made the Brazilian the oldest first-time champion at 42 years of age.

Not solely was Teixeira’s late-career title run an unbelievable one, however John Hackleman-trained was in a position to produce unforgettable moments that ranged from epic title fights to real-life Recreation of Thrones reenactments.

Teixeira’s MMA lineage additionally connects Corridor of Famer and former champion Chuck Liddell to the present UFC champ at 205 kilos (at the very least on the time of this text), Alex Pereira.


Fabricio Werdum

Fabricio Werdum

Making the highest 10 is the legend killer himself, Fabricio Werdum.

Initially beginning his MMA profession as a grappling coach for different heavyweights like Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Werdum ultimately began to make a reputation for himself in organizations like Jungle Struggle and Satisfaction Preventing Championships. And after a short stint within the UFC the place Werdum was minimize after going 2-2, “Vai Cavalo” ultimately returned to the promotion years later with a way more full recreation in tow.

Werdum already had a win over the legendary Fedor Emelianenko by the point of his second UFC run, however the Brazilian added the final word cherry on prime by beating the extremely touted Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title.


Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos

Notching the No. 9 slot is former UFC light-weight champion, Rafael dos Anjos.

One other Brazilian champion who began his UFC profession at 2-2, dos Anjos positively had the tougher street to success with regard to his title path.

After beating fighters like Nate Diaz and Benson Henderson, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt lastly received a shot to indicate off his improved recreation for the light-weight title reverse Anthony Pettis.

Regardless that dos Anjos dropped the belt after one protection, the Brazilian warhorse was in a position to proceed to show his medal by transferring as much as welterweight, the place he was in a position to beat former champions and problem for an interim belt.


Junior Dos Santos

Junior Dos Santos at UFC 143. (USA TODAY Sports activities)

Coming in at No. 8 is among the most fan-friendly UFC heavyweight champions, Junior Dos Santos.

Stepping onto the scene with an emphatic knockout of Fabricio Werdum, the younger Brazilian would go on to accrue the longest win streak in UFC heavyweight historical past, profitable 9 fights in a row.

After dropping his title in a rematch with Cain Velasquez, Dos Santos was nonetheless in a position to give us some unbelievable highlight-reel knockouts reverse fellow strikers like Mark Hunt. He even placed on an prompt heavyweight basic with Stipe Miocic again at UFC on FOX 13.


Lyoto Machida

Taking the No. 7 slot is among the most unusual fighters on this checklist, Lyoto Machida.

A fighter who went on a exceptional undefeated run to a earn UFC title, you possibly can see why Joe Rogan anointed the Brazilian’s reign as “the Machida period” again at UFC 98.

Though Machida ended up dropping the title after one protection, “The Dragon” continued to be a tough out at each mild heavyweight and middleweight – difficult for titles in every division.

Machida additionally continued so as to add to his spotlight reel, touchdown karate-style entrance kicks on Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort that may stand the check of time.


Mauricio Rua

Touchdown simply exterior the highest 5 is one other Brazilian fighter who made his identify in Japan, Mauricio Rua.

Regardless of arguably being post-prime by the point he received to the UFC because of the quantity of mileage on his knees alone, “Shogun” was nonetheless in a position to obtain a UFC championship by turning into the primary man to formally defeat Machida.

Regardless that Rua ended up dropping the title to an up-and-coming Jon Jones again at UFC 128, the Satisfaction grand prix champion went on to provide his followers unforgettable fights in opposition to the likes of Dan Henderson and Brandon Vera earlier than a painfully gradual and regular exit from the game.


Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes

Narrowly taking a prime 5 spot is arguably the best feminine fighter that the octagon has ever seen in Amanda Nunes.

Nunes initially began her profession as a wild brawler who got here from a judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu background, however ultimately discovered her type as a crushing athletic phenom who holds victories over girls’s MMA legends like Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg.

Regardless that I at all times wished to see a rematch between her and Cyborg, maybe Nunes could be lured out of retirement by Kayla Harrison. However no matter Nunes’ future, her legacy as an all-time nice stays firmly safe.


Vitor Belfort

Nov 7, 2015; Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil; Vitor Belfort (purple gloves) vs. Dan Henderson (blue gloves) throughout UFC Struggle Evening at Ibirapuera Gymnasium. Necessary Credit score: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports activities

Notching the No. 4 spot is a Brazilian legend Vitor Belfort, whose profession transcends a number of generations.

Beginning his UFC profession as a heavyweight who was basically being hailed as MMA’s Mike Tyson, Befort discovered success as a smaller heavyweight, profitable a UFC event championship again at UFC 12.

Belfort made his mild heavyweight debut a bit over a 12 months later at UFC 17.5, stopping a younger Wanderlei Silva in simply 44 seconds.
Regardless of briefly profitable a title at 205 kilos in his sequence with Randy Couture, Belfort ultimately washed out of the group, solely to return at middleweight virtually 5 years later.

And although Belfort didn’t seize a title at 185 kilos, “The Phenom” proved that an outdated canine can study new methods – incorporating a plethora of kick KOs late into his profession.


Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveira

Taking a top-three spot is none aside from Brazilian fan favourite, Charles Oliveira.

An motion fighter who’s harmful in all phases, Oliveira at the moment holds the file for probably the most finishes in UFC historical past at 20. And although Oliveira has cut up time between two divisions throughout his UFC tenure, “Do Bronx” nonetheless holds prime submission standings at each featherweight and light-weight.

Not solely did Oliveira repay an unbelievable profession by profitable the UFC light-weight title (a title that he technically by no means misplaced within the octagon), however the former champion continues to pay issues ahead to his fellow Brazilians from the favelas, proving why he’s a individuals’s champion in each sense of the phrase.


Jose Aldo

Feb 2, 2019; Fortaleza, CE, Brazil; Jose Aldo (purple gloves) vs. Renato Moicano (blue gloves) throughout UFC Struggle Evening at Enviornment CFO. Necessary Credit score: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports activities

Regardless that you possibly can simply make the case for “The King of Rio” to take the highest slot, Jose Aldo should accept a prestigious second place.

Regardless of formally being credited with 7 profitable title defenses, Aldo truly defended his belt 9 consecutive occasions should you depend his run with the WEC.

Probably the most dominant champions on this sport’s historical past, Aldo’s profession is packed stuffed with memorable moments that vary from his insane sequence with Chad Mendes in Brazil to his post-prime win over Jeremy Stephens.

Aldo, who additionally has a notable story about his rise from poverty within the favelas, is one other individuals’s champion for the nation of Brazil.


Anderson Silva

Regardless of Nos. 1 and a pair of virtually being interchangeable, I discovered it tough to disclaim Anderson Silva the highest spot on this checklist.

A Corridor of Famer in each sense of the phrase, Silva has a slew of highlgihts over the course of his epic championship run (that technically constitutes because the longest title run in UFC historical past).

From Silva’s comeback submission win over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 to the entrance kick heard world wide at UFC 126, “The Spider” has provided MMA with sufficient highlights to fulfill our appetites for years to come back.

Whether or not we’re speaking about revolutionizing strategies or setting the usual of an period, Silva has undeniably influenced your complete martial arts sphere whereas representing his nation of Brazil underneath the UFC banner.

Honorable mentions: Raphael Assuncao, Pedro Rizzo, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Thiago Alves, Gilbert Burns

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