Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has a long and rich history dating back decades in Brazil, and Brazilian fighters have made their mark, and will continue to do so in the UFC.
From the early days of the UFC when Brazilian legend Royce Gracie displayed his world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu as an effective fighting style, it was clear that Brazil would have quite a large effect on the growing sport of MMA.
Over the years there have been a plethora of Brazilian UFC champions, and two remain today.
One certain Brazilian featherweight champion is gearing up to defend his title in the biggest fight in the sport’s history at UFC 194 on December 12, 2015. As we prepare for that highly-anticipated bout, let’s take a look at five of the best Brazilians to ever grace the Octagon during the modern era:
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida may have hit some rough times as of late as he nears what will likely be the tail end of a historic career, but that doesn’t take away from his accomplishments over the years.
Using a Karate based style, “The Dragon” has proved himself to be a different kind of striker, and a difficult puzzle to solve.
Machida owns wins over former champions in Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Randy Couture, and is a former light heavyweight champion himself.
He was able to knockout Evans at UFC 98 to win the title, then defended it against Rua at UFC 104. Although his title reign didn’t last long, Machida’s resume speaks for itself, and due to that, he has earned himself a spot on this list.
Current UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum may have just hit his stride at age 38, but he’s been able to show that he ranks up there with the best heavyweights of all-time.
“Vai Cavalo” may very well be the Brazilian jiu-jitsu artist to ever compete in mixed martial arts and his track record shows that.
Werdum owns submission wins over all-time greats Fedor Emelianenko, Cain Velasquez, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The Brazilian champion has now added a versatile striking arsenal to his game, and has suddenly rattled off six-straight victories.
Although he may be getting up there in age, “Vai Cavalo” may still have some gas left in the tank and could establish himself as one of the greatest of all-time period depending on how his title reign goes.
First things first, let’s get this out of the way.
Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the sport. His multiple drug test failures, suspensions, and infamous use of the now banned testosterone-replacement-therapy (TRT) have caused fans to drown him in criticism, but Belfort has been fighting for nearly two decades.
Has he been cheating his whole career? We can speculate, but we can’t know for sure, and for that reason, we must look at his long list of accomplishments.
A fearsome and vicious striker, Belfort owns an impressive 18 knockout wins to his record. He is a former UFC light heavyweight champion, as well as a former UFC heavyweight champion. “The Phenom” has also scored the most knockouts in UFC history, as well as the most first-round finishes in UFC history.
Some of his notable wins include victories over Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture, Rich Franklin, Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson. Although his reputation, and career will almost always be plagued by controversy, Belfort has had quite an illustrious run.
This is the man mentioned above, as the featherweight champion getting ready to defend his title for the eighth-straight time. Jose Aldo is the only featherweight champion in UFC history, and considered by many to be the best 145-pounder the sport has ever seen.
A devastating Muay Thai striker, “Scarface” is 25-1 in his career, and he hasn’t lost in nearly a decade. Aldo has run through everyone that the UFC has put in front of him, as he owns wins over Urijah Faber, Mark Hominick, Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar, Ricardo Lamas, Chan Sung Jung, and Cub Swanson.
He will now meet interim champion and Irish hype machine Conor McGregor next month in a fight that many see as a tough stylistic matchup for the champion. If Aldo can indeed get passed McGregor, however, it could be argued that he has cleaned out the entire division.
With the resume that Aldo possesses, he is clearly deserving of a spot amongst the best Brazilian UFC fighters, but he still falls short of one man… 1. Anderson Silva
Anderson “The Spider” Silva, despite his recent demise, and controversy regarding drug tests, is widely considered to be the greatest fighter of all-time, or at least held in that discussion.
Silva had one of the most historic reigns that the sport had ever seen, winning a record 16-straight UFC bouts, while defending his middleweight title a record 10-straight times. “The Spider” ruled the 185-pound division for nearly 6 years.
A flashy, and almost terrifyingly accurate striker, Silva owns 11 knockout victories in the UFC, and has a plethora of moments to his name that fans will remember forever. Recall his front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort? Or how about his come behind submission victory over Chael Sonnen?
Throughout his Octagon career, “The Spider” has also taken out names like Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Patrick Cote, Yushin Okami, and Stephan Bonnar.
I think it’s safe to say that Silva remains at the top of this list, but could he be dethroned soon? Or do you feel as if another Brazilian fighter should be on top?