Brazil is One of the Greatest Nations for Producing MMA Talent… After Jose Aldo’s Recent Renaissance, Let’s Take a Look at Some of the Best to Ever do it in the UFC…
Is there a more important nation in MMA outside of the USA than Brazil? Arguably not. The South American country is in second place for the most championships per country in the UFC. Some of the most iconic and important developments in the sport have come from the nation that produced BJJ.
With this in mind, let’s rank the ten greatest fighters to ever do it in the UFC. This was a difficult list to make because there are just so many fighters out there. We have to give honourable mentions to the electric Edson Barboza and to Vitor Belfort who didn’t make it into the top ten. Maybe one day the likes of Jessica Andrade, Marlon Moraes and Johnny Walker will be on this list. Probably the most controversial absence is Antonio Nogueira, whose best days were under the PRIDE label.
Here’s who we rate as the best ten from Brazil.
One of MMA’s ultimate nice guys, Maia is the only fighter on this list not to have ever won a UFC title. At the tender age of 41, the Sao Paulo native is unlikely to ever get that chance now, but he can hold his head up high as one of only four fighters with 20 or more wins in the UFC.
A renowned BJJ specialist, Maia’s grappling game is second to nobody on the roster. If he gets on your back the fight is probably over. 13 of the 4th degree BJJ black belt’s wins have come via 26 career wins have come via submission.
Maurizio ‘Shogun’ Rua
Although his best days were under the PRIDE label, Rua has still done enough in the UFC to warrant a place on this list. The former light-heavyweight battler might seem like a relic of a bygone era to many, but his name is legendary for a reason.
The PRIDE middleweight Grand Prix winner has fought the best of the best throughout his career. Despite suffering a brutal loss to Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith in 2018, he was able to bounce back and defeat Tyson Pedro. 4 wins in his last five outings keep him competitive in the 205lb division, and he definitely has earned his place on this list.
The Porto Alegre product is one of the ferocious fighters on this list. A former UFC heavyweight champion, he was the first man to inflict defeat upon the legendary Fedor Emelianenko. He took the heavyweight strap from Cain Velasquez in 2015 but then would lose to Stipe Miocic.
Amongst his other incredible achievements was bouncing a boomerang off of Colby Covington’s head. For that alone, he deserves a place on this list. Currently, Werdum is seeking release from the UFC after he was flagged by USADA for PED use.
Now 40 years old and fighting for Bellator, Machida is one of the most distinctive fighters on this list for his unique karate-based style. A black belt in the Japanese martial art by the age of 13, he was always set for a career in martial arts.
He became the UFC light-heavyweight champion in 2009 when he knocked out Rashad Evans. Although he would lose it to ‘Shogun’ Rua, ‘The Dragon’ was still one of the most interesting fighters to watch on the roster and was a top contender in both the light-heavyweight and middleweight.
Until she was obliterated by Amanda Nunes, Cyborg was the most feared fighter in women’s MMA. She possesses ludicrous power, enhanced by her unique frame, allowing her to physically dominate almost every opponent she’s ever faced.
Cyborg’s run in the UFC has been frustrated by a very thin featherweight division, but there’s no doubt that her ferocity and attributes make her one of the greatest Brazilian champions in UFC and MMA history.
Junior Dos Santos
Still active – and not far off a title shot – Junior Dos Santos is a former UFC heavyweight champion. He famously has had an intense rivalry with Cain Velasquez, beating the AKA legend once and losing to him twice.
The 35-year-old has wins over five former UFC champions including, Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, Shane Carwin, and Frank Mir. Dos Santos is one of the most likeable fighters on the roster. Expected to fight Derrick Lewis next, if things fall his way he could end up with a title shot before the end of 2020.
What a career ‘Junior’ has had. His recent demolition job of Renato Moicano reminded fans of his days as a WEC featherweight champion, before moving to the UFC and holding the 145lb strap for ten years from 2005-2015.
While he might more infamously be remembered by younger fans for being on the other end of that 13-second loss to Conor McGregor, he’s still the greatest featherweight champion in the history of the UFC and has some of the most savage leg kicks in the game. Urijah Faber is still hurting from them.
Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg. They’re three of the biggest names ever in women’s MMA, and Nunes has conquered them all. ‘The Lioness’ is the first female double champion in the history of the UFC and is a powerhouse.
The reigning bantamweight and featherweight champion, she possesses frightening power and can make a strong case for being the greatest female fighter of all time. Bizarrely underpromoted, she’s also the UFC’s first openly gay champion, something the company really should have capitalized on more.
He would be at the top of the pile if it wasn’t for those late career drug test failures. Nevertheless, ‘The Spider’ is definitely the most iconic Brazilian fighter of all time. His phenomenal striking and underrated BJJ made him one of the most exciting fighters to watch ever.
His movement was second to none, and he remains the most successful middleweight champion in the history of the UFC. He’s still capable of beating anybody in his division on his day, at the ripe age of 43.
The single most important fighter on this list. The Gracie family literally changed the face of modern martial arts, and the legendary Joyce was at the forefront of that movement. At the end of the 80s, into the early 90s, when the UFC was just starting out, Westerners still had this idea that East Asian mystic martial arts were the way forward. Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu showed what really works.
Royce won UFC 1, 2 and 4, and fought Ken Shamrock to a draw at UFC 5. This was back when there were no weight classes or rules other than don’t bite, eye gouge or attack the groin. While wrestling might have taken over the UFC now, Royce deserves respect and recognition for his role in popularising an effective martial arts system.