Brazil has had a more significant impact on modern mixed martial arts than any other nation. The Gracie family gave us Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the most effective grappling styles ever developed. Rorion Gracie worked with Art Davie to create the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament.
Without the Brazilian influence, mixed martial arts probably wouldn’t be as popular as it is now. Brazil remains one of the top hubs for MMA, with one of the most dedicated fan bases.
The Top Ten Mixed Martial Art Fighters From Brazil
Here are the ten best Brazilian MMA fighters that have helped to make mixed martial arts one of the most popular sports in the world:
10) Lyoto Machida
Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida showed the world how effective Karate could be as a fighting style, even at the highest levels of combat sports. His unorthodox techniques and movements made him quite the challenge for his opponents.
Machida knocked Rashad Evans out to secure the UFC’s light-heavyweight title in 2009 and successfully defended the belt against Maurício ‘Shogun’ Rua in his next outing. Unfortunately for him, he lost the title during his rematch against Rua.
Machida was given another chance to fight for the title at UFC 140, and he did well early on, becoming the first man to win a round against Jon Jones. However, Jones turned things around during the second round, putting Machida to sleep with a guillotine choke.
9) Amanda Nunes
The ‘Lioness’ was one of the most dominant champions in women’s MMA until Juliana Pena dethroned her at UFC 269. During her reign, Nunes handed Ronda Rousey her second loss in MMA, beat Valentina Shevchenko twice, knocked out Holly Holm, and brought Cris Cyborg’s reign to an end with a first-round knockout. It doesn’t get more impressive than that in MMA.
Many still view Nunes as the best female mixed martial artist on the planet. Pena will have her hands full when the two meet for a rematch.
8) Adriano Moraes
Adriano is a seasoned grappler who secured the most significant victory of his career when he knocked out Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson. It was his first title defense after winning the ONE Flyweight Championship belt for the third time.
Moraes currently sports a 19-3 record, with most of his victories coming via submission.
7) Charles Oliveira
It’s difficult not to be a fan of this guy. He signed up with the UFC when he was just 20 years old after compiling a 14-0 record fighting in local Brazilian promotions. Oliveira has had his share of ups and downs in the UFC, and something always seemed to go wrong whenever he started putting a few consecutive wins together.
Oliveira has added pretty impressive striking skills to go with the world-class BJJ he’s known for, and he secured the vacant UFC lightweight title when he squared off against Michael Chandler. He successfully defended the belt at UFC 269 against Dustin Poirier.
6) Cristiane Cyborg
Cris “Cyborg” Justino Venâncio dominated women’s MMA for over 13 years. Her fight against Gina Carano was one of the first super-fights in women’s MMA history. At that point, Gina was the face of women’s MMA, and Cyborg was the challenger. She won that fight by TKO late in the first round, establishing herself as the new face of women’s MMA.
Ronda Rousey would emerge as a potential challenger to Cyborg’s throne years later, but the super-fight never took place. Rousey ended up losing for the first time to Holly Holm, losing the UFC’s women’s bantamweight title, while Amanda Nunes handed Cyborg her first loss since her first fight a few years later.
5) Vitor Belfort
Belfort was one of the first strikers to enjoy lots of success in mixed martial arts. He made his professional MMA debut at UFC 12, knocking out all three of his opponents on his way to winning the tournament.
He defeated Randy Couture by doctor stoppage at UFC 46 to win the promotion’s light-heavyweight title. Belfort has won against many of the top fighters in the UFC’s middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions, and he was a perennial contender for most of his career.
RDA didn’t have a lot of hype behind him at the start of his pro MMA career, but he quietly worked his way to a title shot in the UFC, defeating names like Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz, and Donald Cerrone along the way. Unfortunately, his reign was short-lived. He successfully defended the belt once before losing to Eddie Alvarez, who now fights for ONE Championship.
3) Jose Aldo
Aldo was one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. He successfully defended the title seven times before losing to Conor McGregor. Aldo won the interim featherweight title in his next outing against Frankie Edgar as McGregor moved up to the lightweight division. He lost it during his next fight against Max Holloway, and he hasn’t been able to grab the belt since. He’s currently on a three-fight win streak, so he’ll likely get another title shot sooner or later.
2) Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie dominated the UFC’s early days, winning three of the first four UFC tournaments. Royce’s victories during the early days helped significantly to popularize mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Many people, like Eddie Bravo, started training in BJJ to learn how to fight like Royce did.
1) Anderson Silva
No striker has been as successful as Anderson Silva in MMA history. Silva was ahead of his time, using his world-class knowledge of Muay Thai, BJJ, and Wing Chun to outclass opponents inside the cage. He successfully defended the UFC’s middleweight title ten times, and he made it look easy.
Chael Sonnen was the only fighter who gave him a good challenge during his reign. Sonnen dominated the first four and a half rounds of their UFC 117 encounter before getting caught in a triangle choke/armbar combo. Silva ended up losing his title to Chris Weidman at UFC 162.
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