The 19 Most Explosive Brazilian UFC Fighters Ever

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Brazilian UFC Fighers

The first-ever UFC tournament was held on November 12, 1993, at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado.

In the final fight of that history-making tournament, a 170 pound Brazilian fighter faced off against a larger Dutch competitor in a no-holds-barred fight to the finish.

The Brazilian fighter was Royce Gracie – the first of many Brazilian UFC fighters; his fighting style was Brazilian JiuJitsu, and his victory came in less than two minutes via rear naked choke.

Decades later, Brazilian UFC fighters continue to compete at the highest levels, frequently win belts, and inspire fight fans around the globe. 

This article looks at some of the best Brazilian UFC fighters in history. 

How Many Brazilian UFC Fighters Are There?

Before we start, let’s address some common questions that fight fans have regarding Brazilians in the UFC.

As of January 2024, the UFC website lists 244 Brazilians among their catalog of fighters – both current and retired.

The men’s pound-for-pound ranking currently includes three Brazilian men ranked in the top 15, and the women’s ranking includes five Brazilian women ranked in the top 15.

So yeah.

They’re kind of a big deal…

Who Are The Best Male Brazilian UFC Fighters?

Here are the best Brazilian fighters from past and present!

Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva is widely considered one of the greatest martial artists and Brazilian UFC fighters of all time and holds the UFC record for the longest title reign with a whopping 2,457 days – nearly seven years. That included 10 title defenses. 

Born in poverty in São Paulo in 1975, Silva began training in martial arts as a child learning Brazilian Jiujitsu and in his teens began to train Muay Thai, Taekwondo and capoeira.

Silva launched his professional MMA career in the year 2000, winning the majority of his early fights. His smooth, precise strikes and elusive movement reminded people of a spider, earning him his nickname.

In 2006, Silva moved into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the largest MMA promotion company in the world. He faced Chris Leben in his first match, defeating him in less than a minute. Silva’s skillful performance solidified his place as one of the top fighters in the UFC.

One of the most noteworthy moments in Silva’s career was his victory over Rich Franklin in 2006, where he won the UFC Middleweight Championship. Silva skillfully outmaneuvered Franklin, showcasing his tactical fighting skills to the world.

Another significant fight in Silva’s career was against Chael Sonnen in 2010. For most of the match, Sonnen appeared to be winning, but Silva turned the tide in the final round and secured his victory.

However, Silva’s career has also seen some challenges. In 2013, he lost his championship to Chris Weidman and suffered a severe leg injury in a subsequent rematch. Nevertheless, Silva demonstrated his resilience by recovering and returning to compete in the UFC.

Silva’s career has not been without controversy. He tested positive for banned substances in 2015 after a fight with Nick Diaz. As a result, he was suspended from competition for a year.

Despite setbacks, Silva’s contribution to the sport of MMA is undeniable, and his tactical intelligence and fighting spirit continue to inspire fighters worldwide.

“The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva

Wanderlei Silva was born on July 3, 1976, in Curitiba, where he started training in kickboxing and Muay Thai from 13 years old. Later in his teenage years, he joined the Brazilian army and impressed his superiors with his combat skills.

Silva began his MMA career in the mid-1990s and quickly became famous for his knockout power and aggressive style.

He fought in various promotions around the world, but his most successful stint was in PRIDE Fighting Championships (PRIDE), a major MMA organization in Japan. He won the PRIDE Middleweight Championship and the 2003 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix tournament12. He also had a memorable fight against Kazushi Sakuraba in 2001, which he won by TKO.

In 2007, Silva moved to the UFC, where he faced some of the top fighters in his division including Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, Keith Jardine, Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, and Kazushi Sakuraba.

Wanderlei Silva’s record in the UFC is 35-13-1, however his career also had controversies. In 2014, he got into trouble with the Nevada State Athletic Commission for refusing to take a random drug test. He was initially banned for life from fighting in Nevada, but later appealed and got his ban reduced to three years.

After his ban was lifted, Silva continued to fight in different promotions. He is widely regarded as one of the most exciting Brazilian UFC fighters in MMA history. 

Antônio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira

Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, aka Minotauro or Big Nog, is a former Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion.

As a child, Nogueira immersed himself in judo, boxing, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu before making his professional MMA debut in 1999.

As a professional fighter, he earned titles in prominent promotions like the WEF Heavyweight Superfight Championship and the RINGS King of Kings tournament. He became the inaugural Pride Heavyweight Champion in Japan’s Pride Fighting Championships in 2001.

In 2007, he joined the UFC where he submitted Tim Sylvia in 2008 to claim the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship.

During his time in the UFC, he faced some of the promotion’s toughest fighters including Randy Couture, Cain Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum, and Roy Nelson.

His final record was 34 wins, 10 losses, 1 draw, and 1 no contest when he retired from professional competition in 2015.

Since that time, Nogueira’s has continued to have an impact in UFC as a coach and mentor, influencing the careers of notable fighters, including Anderson Silva, José Aldo, Junior dos Santos, and Lyoto Machida.

José Aldo “Junior”

Born in Manaus, Brazil, in 1986, Aldo’s martial arts journey began with capoeira. Introduced to BJJ by André Pederneiras, founder of Nova União—one of Brazil’s most successful MMA teams—he earned his black belt, laying the foundation for a stellar career.

Aldo made his professional MMA debut at the age of 17, compiling a string of victories via knockout or submission.

His ascendancy continued when he joined the WEC in 2008, culminating in the featherweight championship title in 2009, triumphing over Mike Brown with a resounding TKO. He defended the WEC title twice, dispatching Urijah Faber and Manny Gamburyan by TKO.

In 2010, the WEC merged with the UFC, making Aldo the inaugural UFC featherweight champion. He successfully defended his title seven times against an elite roster of opponents, including Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, and Chan Sung Jung.

Aldo’s reign abruptly ended in 2015 when he was knocked out in 13-seconds by Connor McGregor, the fastest title fight knockout in UFC history. Undeterred, he pursued redemption, albeit unsuccessful, in two subsequent clashes with Max Holloway, ending in TKO defeats.

Determined to revitalize his career, Aldo ventured into the bantamweight division in 2019. Although he encountered initial setbacks against Marlon Moraes and Petr Yan, he eventually had triumphant performances against Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font.

Aldo’s MMA journey boasts a record of 31 wins and 8 losses, with 17 victories by knockout, one by submission, and 13 by decision.

Royce Gracie

Born on December 12, 1966, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Gracie was immersed in the world of jiu-jitsu by his father, the esteemed jiu-jitsu grandmaster Hélio Gracie.

Royce had his first competition at the age of 8 and began instructing classes at the age of 14. At 17, he was awarded his black belt by his father, setting the stage for his illustrious career.

Gracie’s rise to fame commenced in the early years of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In the inaugural tournaments of 1993 and 1994, he showcased his exceptional skills in submission grappling, overcoming opponents who were often larger and heavier.

Making use of BJJ’s strategic focus on ground fighting and minimal striking (see BJJ vs wrestling), Gracie emerged victorious in three out of the first four UFC tournaments. His notable rivalry with Ken Shamrock intensified the allure of his performances, culminating in a rematch at UFC 5 for the Superfight Championship, resulting in a draw.

Gracie’s successes within the UFC propelled Gracie jiu-jitsu, also known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, to the forefront of MMA. His technical prowess and ability to neutralize opponents on the ground revolutionized the sport, catalyzing a paradigm shift towards grappling and ground fighting. Recognizing his immense contributions, Gracie became the inaugural inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2003, alongside Shamrock.

Beyond the UFC, Gracie ventured into PRIDE Fighting Championships, where his 90-minute battle against catch wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba in 2000 remains etched in the collective memory of MMA fans.

Additionally, a captivating “judo vs. jiu-jitsu” mixed rules match against Hidehiko Yoshida, an Olympic gold medalist in judo, at Pride Shockwave in 2002 showcased Gracie’s willingness to embrace new challenges.

Royce Gracie’s impact as a pioneer in MMA is immeasurable and he has been named as Canadian UFC legend Georges St-Pierre’s greatest UFC fighter of all time.

Junior dos Santos

Junior dos Santos began his fighting journey at the age of 21, learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing under the guidance of coaches Yuri Carlton and Luiz Carlos Dórea. His career took off in small events throughout Brazil, until he advanced to the UFC in 2008.

His UFC debut saw him make waves in the division by knocking out Fabrício Werdum, a leading contender at the time. He maintained his winning streak, knocking out Stefan Struve and Mirko Cro Cop in his following bouts. These victories led to his 2011 title shot against Cain Velasquez.

In an explosive display, Junior dos Santos won the UFC heavyweight title by knocking out Cain Velasquez in just 64 seconds, a triumph considered one of the most significant upsets in UFC history. He successfully defended his title against Frank Mir, but ultimately lost it to Velasquez in a rematch.

After losing the title, Junior dos Santos experienced a roller-coaster career with notable victories against fighters like Mark Hunt, Stipe Miocic, and Ben Rothwell, yet he also faced harsh defeats at the hands of Alistair Overeem, Francis Ngannou, and Curtis Blaydes.

In 2021, after four consecutive knockout losses, Junior dos Santos left UFC and signed with Eagle FC. Nonetheless, he stands as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, holding a UFC heavyweight division record of 15 knockouts.

Fabricio Werdum

Fabrício Werdum was born in humble beginnings in Porto Alegre, Brazil. His introduction to Brazilian jiu-jitsu began after experiencing a triangle choke from his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. Propelled by the experience, he found guidance under trainer Marcio Corleta and soon found success in competitive Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling.

Moving to Madrid, Spain, Werdum continued to pursue his passion for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, becoming a Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Champion and earning a black belt.

Werdum joined PRIDE in 2005, where he faced some of the world’s top heavyweights like Emelianenko, Nogueira, Overeem, and Cro Cop, garnering notable victories. In 2008, he made his UFC debut but temporarily left due to a contract dispute.

Moving to Strikeforce in 2009, Werdum showcased his skills and made headlines by defeating the legendary Fedor Emelianenko with a triangle armbar submission, ending Emelianenko’s 28-fight unbeaten streak.

Returning to the UFC in 2012, Werdum embarked on a six-fight winning streak, including becoming UFC Interim Champion and then winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship title.

He triumphed over fighters like Roy Nelson, Antonio Nogueira, Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, and Cain Velasquez.

Werdum’s career experienced setbacks, losing the UFC title to Miocic and a rematch with Overeem, but he demonstrated resilience with a submission win over Gustafsson at UFC on ESPN 14 in 2020. He later joined the Professional Fighters League (PFL) in 2021.

Currently, Werdum is gearing up for a rematch with Junior dos Santos at GFC 5 on September 2, 2023.

Charles Oliveira

Born on October 17, 1989, in a poverty-stricken favela in Guarujá, São Paulo, Oliveira’s early life was marked by adversity. Overcoming a heart condition and rheumatic fever, he discovered his passion for Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the tender age of 12.

Oliveira’s professional career began in Brazil, where he achieved an impressive 12-fight win streak, including six knockouts and five submissions.

His remarkable performances caught the attention of the UFC, leading to his entry into the organization in 2010.

Notable victories against highly regarded opponents, such as 3 of the worst cauliflower ears in the sport with legends Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson, plus Kevin Lee, Clay Guida, and Jim Miller, have solidified Oliveira’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

With an astonishing 21 submission wins out of his 34 total victories, he holds the record for the most submissions in UFC history.

Oliveira’s crowning achievement came on May 15, 2021, when he claimed the UFC Lightweight Championship by knocking out Michael Chandler in the second round at UFC 262. He successfully defended his title once against Beneil Dariush on June 10, 2023, securing a first-round TKO at UFC 289.

His title reign ended on October 22, 2022, as he succumbed to a submission by Islam Makhachev in the second round at UFC 280.

Today, Oliveira holds the title of UFC Lightweight Champion and boasts the record for the most submission wins in UFC history. His aggressive and diverse fighting style includes elements of striking, grappling, and submissions that throw his opponents off balance.

Renan Barao

Barão began his MMA journey in 2005, competing in various promotions in Brazil. In 2010, he joined the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), where he showcased his skills and won two fights before the WEC merged with the UFC. Making his UFC debut in 2011 with a victory over Cole Escovedo, Barão quickly rose to prominence.

During his UFC career, Barão won eight consecutive bouts. Notable wins included triumphs over former champions Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland.

In 2012, he became the interim UFC Bantamweight Champion by defeating Faber at UFC 149. Barão successfully defended his interim title against Michael McDonald and Wineland, ultimately being promoted to the undisputed champion in 2014.

Barão’s reign as the bantamweight champion came to an end when he faced T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173. Dillashaw delivered a dominant performance, culminating in a head kick and punches that finished Barão. Despite a rematch attempt, Barão was again defeated by Dillashaw at UFC on Fox 16, experiencing another TKO loss.

Seeking a fresh start, Barão moved up to the featherweight division, but his fortune didn’t improve. He suffered a unanimous decision loss to Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 88. Returning to bantamweight, he secured a win against Phillipe Nover at UFC Fight Night 95.

Unfortunately, Barão’s career trajectory took a downturn as he faced a series of defeats in the UFC, and in 2020, Barão was released from the UFC after accumulating a record of 9-9 in the promotion.

Nonetheless, Barão’s unbeaten streak of 32 fights from 2005 to 2014 remains unparalleled in MMA history. And he also holds the records for the most wins in UFC bantamweight history (11) and the most finishes in UFC/WEC bantamweight history (7).

Alex Pereira

Alex Pereira’s martial arts journey began in 2009 when he embarked on a kickboxing career, capturing multiple regional titles in Brazil.

In 2015, he made his debut in Glory, a prominent kickboxing organization, and claimed the middleweight title in 2017 after a captivating victory over Simon Marcus.

While excelling in kickboxing, Pereira also ventured into mixed martial arts in 2015, accumulating an impressive 4-1 record before catching the attention of the UFC.

In 2020, he made his long-awaited debut at UFC 253, demonstrating his versatility by securing a unanimous decision victory over Andreas Michailidis.

Pereira’s path took a significant turn when he decided to move down to middleweight and challenge Israel Adesanya, the reigning UFC middleweight champion, at UFC 259.

Pereira avenged his prior kickboxing loss to Adesanya by delivering a thunderous left hook that sent shockwaves through the MMA world, knocking out Adesanya in the second round and becoming the new UFC middleweight champion.

The Brazilian striker defended his middleweight title against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263, exhibiting his resilience and skill in a hard-fought split decision victory. Displaying versatility once again, Pereira made the bold decision to move up to the light heavyweight division, vacating his middleweight title in pursuit of new challenges.

He beat former UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291 on July 29, 2023 in a controversial split decision, an opponent who had previously beaten Adesanya.

Pedro Rizzo

Pedro Rizzo was born in Rio De Janeiro in 1974 and is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous strikers in heavyweight history.

Rizzo began his combat sports journey in the realm of Vale Tudo and Vale Tudo Brazilian martial arts. Additionally, Rizzo developed a strong Muay Thai background, incorporating brutal leg kicks into his striking arsenal, which he acquired through training at the Chakuriki gym in Amsterdam.

In 1997, Rizzo captured the World Vale Tudo Championship Heavyweight Championship, launching his entry into the UFC, where he quickly ascended to the top of the heavyweight division.

Rizzo achieved notable victories in the UFC over esteemed competitors, including former champions Mark Coleman, Dan Severn, Josh Barnett, Andrei Arlovski, Ricco Rodriguez, and Ken Shamrock. Rizzo showcased his striking prowess by finishing 15 of his 20 wins via knockout, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake.

Rizzo’s first opportunity to fight for the UFC Heavyweight Championship arose at UFC 26 when he faced Kevin Randleman. Despite a valiant effort, Rizzo succumbed to a unanimous decision loss in a closely contested bout. Undeterred, he rebounded with consecutive victories over Tsuyoshi Kosaka and Dan Severn, securing another title shot at UFC 31.

Rizzo engaged in a contentious battle against Randy Couture in a highly anticipated showdown. While Rizzo landed more strikes and inflicted significant damage, Couture’s grappling control swayed the judges in his favor, resulting in a unanimous decision victory for the defending champion. The decision was met with much debate and disagreement among fans and media members alike.

Eager to prove himself, Rizzo was granted an immediate rematch with Couture at UFC 34. However, the outcome was drastically different this time, as Couture dominated Rizzo and secured a third-round finish via punches. Rizzo faced both triumph and adversity in subsequent fights, culminating in a final victory over Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 45 before transitioning to PRIDE.

In PRIDE, Rizzo faced tough challenges in Sergei Kharitonov and Roman Zentsov, suffering defeats by TKO. He later ventured into Affliction, where he encountered Josh Barnett in a rematch of their UFC 30 encounter. Unfortunately, Rizzo experienced defeat once again, as Barnett avenged his loss by knocking out Rizzo in the second round.

Rizzo’s career extended until 2015, featuring sporadic appearances across various promotions. Ultimately, he retired after securing a victory over Andrew Flores Smith via TKO. With a final record of 20 wins, 11 losses, and 1 no contest, Rizzo’s legacy endures as one of the best heavyweights of his era and one of Brazil’s greatest fighters.

Murilo Bustamante

Bustamante was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1966 and started training BJJ when he was 10 years old. He earned his black belt under the legendary Carlson Gracie, winning several titles at the national and world level. He also trained judo and boxing to complement his grappling skills.

He won his first fight in the UFC by submitting Yoji Anjo at UFC 25 in Japan. He then moved up to light heavyweight to face future champion Chuck Liddell at UFC 33, losing by a controversial unanimous decision.

He returned to middleweight and challenged Dave Menne for the UFC Middleweight Championship at UFC 35. He won the title by knocking out Menne in the second round, becoming the first Brazilian to hold a UFC belt. He defended his title against Matt Lindland at UFC 37, submitting him with an armbar in the third round.

However, Bustamante vacated his title soon after, due to a contract dispute with the UFC. He left the promotion and joined PRIDE, a Japanese MMA organization. He fought several times in PRIDE, reaching the final of the Pride Shockwave 2005 Grand Prix, where he lost to Dan Henderson by split decision.

He also fought in other promotions, such as Yarennoka!, Deep, and Amazon Forest Combat. He retired from MMA in 2012, with a record of 15 wins, 8 losses, and 1 draw.

He is widely regarded as one of the best middleweights of all time and a pioneer of MMA in Brazil.

Bustamante continues to be involved in MMA and BJJ as a coach and leader of the Brazilian Top Team, which he founded with Ricardo Liborio, Mario Sperry, and Bebeo Duarte in 2000. The team has produced many champions and stars, such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Vitor Belfort, Ricardo Arona, Paulo Filho, Rousimar Palhares, Murilo Rua, and many others.

Today, Bustamante is a coral belt (7th degree) in BJJ and a respected figure in the martial arts community.

Lyoto Machida

Born in Salvador, Brazil, in 1978, Lyoto Machida is famous for time spent competing in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions. A former UFC light heavyweight champion, Machida now fights in Bellator.

Machida’s martial arts journey began through his father, Yoshizo Machida, a karate master who moved from Japan to Brazil. From the age of three, Lyoto started training in karate, earning his black belt by the time he was 13. This martial arts foundation was broadened by learning sumo wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, Muay Thai, and grappling.

Making his professional MMA debut in 2003, Machida went on to win his first 16 fights. Joining the UFC in 2007, he swiftly climbed the light heavyweight division’s ladder, owing to his unique karate style and counter-striking. He marked his position as the UFC light heavyweight champion in 2009 by overpowering Rashad Evans with a flurry of punches.

Machida’s MMA journey is studded with notable fights. One such contest was his first battle with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2009. Machida emerged victorious with a controversial unanimous decision, although many fans and experts felt Rua dealt more damage and deserved the win. The 2010 rematch saw Rua knocking out Machida in the first round to seize the belt.

Another unforgettable bout was against Randy Couture in 2011, where Machida deployed a spectacular front kick to Couture’s face, sending him into retirement.

Machida also faced Jon Jones in 2011 and was defeated by a technical submission in the second round. Despite the loss, Machida was the first to win a round against Jon Jones, and his speed and agility troubled him.

Then came his 2018 fight with Vitor Belfort, which Machida won with another front kick to Belfort’s face. This kick eerily resembled the one Anderson Silva used to knock out Belfort in 2011.

Like most fighters, Machida had his share of controversies. One such unusual practice is his admission to drinking his own urine every morning as a health regimen, learned from his father. In 2016, he faced an 18-month suspension from the UFC due to a failed drug test, where he tested positive for a banned substance called 7-keto-DHEA. He claimed ignorance about its prohibition, stating he took it as a weight cut supplement. Many were surprised when Machida moved to Bellator in 2018, although he expressed a desire to explore new challenges.

Regarded as one of the most influential fighters in MMA history, Machida has displayed the effectiveness and excitement karate brings to MMA. His humility, sportsmanship, and professionalism have earned him widespread admiration. As of 2023, he’s ranked as the #4 light heavyweight contender in Bellator, boasting a record of 26 wins and 12 losses.

Vitor Belfort

Belfort was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and began training in boxing at the age of 12.

He later studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Carlson Gracie, who gave him his black belt. He won the Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Championships at the age of 17 and was invited to compete at Gracie’s gym, where he trained with some of the best grapplers in the world.

Belfort made his MMA debut in 1996, at the age of 19, and knocked out his opponent in 12 seconds. He then moved on to compete in the UFC, where he was given the nickname The Phenom.

He won the UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament by beating two fighters in one night, becoming the youngest fighter to score a victory inside the octagon.

Vitor Belfort then went on to become the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and Cage Rage World Light Heavyweight Champion.

During his career in MMA, he faced some of the best fighters in the sport, such as Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, and Gegard Mousasi. He won several titles and awards, including the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, the Cage Rage World Light Heavyweight Championship, and the Knockout of the Night bonus four times.

Belfort is tied for third for the most finishes in UFC history with 14, and he also holds the record for the most head kick knockouts in UFC history with three.

Belfort had a noteworthy rivalry with Randy Couture, fighting with him three times in title bouts for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. While Belfort secured a win in their first meeting at UFC 15 in 1997, Couture took the victories in their subsequent fights at UFC 49 in 2004 and UFC 46 in 2006.

In 2013, Belfort went on an impressive run (while being arguably one of the dirtiest UFC fighters regarding his use of TRT) with wins over top contenders like Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson.

His career in the UFC officially ended after a fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 224 in May 2018, where he was front-kicked unconscious.

An often overlooked but truly epic KO. The way Machido remains calm and bows could make the birds sing.

And so, before leaving the octagon, Belfort signified his retirement by leaving his gloves in the cage. However, his retirement was short-lived as he signed with ONE Championship, a prominent MMA promotion, in 2021.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

Maurício Rua, also known as Shogun, is a Brazilian retired mixed martial artist, former model, and Muay Thai clinch master. He competed in the Light Heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He is also the 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix Champion.

Rua was born in Curitiba, Brazil, and started training in Muay Thai at the age of 15 and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 17. He followed his older brother, Murilo Rua, in joining the Chute Boxe Academy, where he developed his aggressive striking style. He made his professional MMA debut in 2002 and won his first three fights by knockout.

In 2003, he entered the PRIDE organization in Japan, where he became one of the most dominant fighters in the promotion. He won the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix in 2005, defeating Quinton Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona. He also had notable wins over Kazuhiro Nakamura, Kevin Randleman, and Mark Coleman.

In 2007, he signed with the UFC and made his debut against Forrest Griffin at UFC 76. He lost by submission in a major upset and suffered a knee injury that required surgery. He returned in 2009 and knocked out Chuck Liddell at UFC 97.

He then challenged Lyoto Machida for the UFC Light Heavyweight title at UFC 104, but lost by a controversial unanimous decision. Many fans and media outlets felt that Rua had won the fight.

Rua got an immediate rematch with Machida at UFC 113 and knocked him out in the first round to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. However, he lost the title in his first defense against Jon Jones at UFC 128 by TKO in the third round. He then had a series of ups and downs in his career, winning some fights by knockout or decision but also losing some by knockout, submission or decision.

Some of his most memorable fights include:

  • A five-round war with Dan Henderson at UFC 139, which he lost by unanimous decision but was awarded Fight of the Night honors
  • A knockout win over James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33
  • And a split decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC on ESPN 14

Rua retired from MMA in January 2023 after losing to Ihor Potieria by TKO at UFC 283. He finished his career with a record of 27 wins, 14 losses and one draw. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time and one of the best strikers in MMA history.

Best Female Brazilian UFC Fighters

Now it’s time to cover some of the female BAs that have graced the octagon with their ruthless skills.

Amanda Nunes: The Female GOAT

The greatest female fighter to date, Amanda Nunes was born on May 30, 1988, in Pojuca, a small town in Bahia, Brazil. She grew up with her mother and two sisters and started training in martial arts at a young age.

She learned capoeira, karate, judo, and boxing, and was inspired by her uncle, who was a Vale Tudo fighter.

Nunes made her UFC debut in 2013 and quickly rose through the ranks of the women’s bantamweight division.

She won the title in 2016 by defeating Miesha Tate by submission in the first round.

She defended her belt seven times against opponents such as Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko, Holly Holm, and Dutch kickboxer Germaine de Randamie. She also became the featherweight champion in 2018, by knocking out Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds. She defended that title twice, against Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson.

Nunes announced her retirement in 2023, after defeating Irene Aldana by unanimous decision at UFC 289. She cited her desire to spend more time with her wife, Nina Nunes, and their daughter, Raegan Ann Nunes, who was born in 2020.

Nunes is widely respected and admired by fans, peers and critics for her achievements, skills and personality. She is considered a pioneer and a role model for women’s MMA, LGBTQ+ rights and animal welfare.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino

Cris Cyborg was born Cristiane Justino Venâncio on July 9, 1985, into a troubled family. Today, she is widely regarded as one of the greatest female MMA fighters of all time.

Cyborg started her MMA career in 2005 and won the Strikeforce title in 2009 by defeating Gina Carano via first-round TKO. She defended the title three times before signing with Invicta FC in 2013, where she won and defended the featherweight title four times.

In 2016, she made her UFC debut and won her first two fights by TKO. In 2017, she became the UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion by defeating Tonya Evinger, and successfully defended the title twice against Holly Holm and Yana Kunitskaya.

In 2019, she lost the title to Amanda Nunes by KO, and then left the UFC after defeating Felicia Spencer by decision.

Cris Cyborg is a Grand Slam Champion, having captured world championships in four major promotions. And with an impressive 20 wins by knockout or TKO out of her 26 total wins and proficiency in Muay Thai, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has cemented herself as a legend in the featherweight division.

Beyond her championship accomplishments, Cyborg has received numerous prestigious awards and recognitions. She was named the ESPN Female Fighter of the Year in 2017 and has been honored multiple times at the World MMA Awards, earning the Female Fighter of the Year distinction in 2010 and 2017.

Jessica Andrade

Born on September 25, 1991, in Umuarama, Paraná, Jessica Andrade’s journey began in a humble background. From working on her parents’ farm to playing soccer, her passion for martial arts eventually led her to judo and jiu-jitsu.

Her nickname, “bate estaca” (piledriver), originated from an early amateur BJJ competition where she inadvertently executed an illegal move. To her surprise, the move disqualified her opponent, and the name stuck with her.

Andrade made her professional MMA debut in 2011, and in 2013, she made her UFC debut. Despite an initial loss, she rebounded with notable wins over fighters such as Rosi Sexton and Raquel Pennington. However, it was her decision to drop to the strawweight division in 2016 that earned her a place as one of the best Brazilian UFC fighters of all time.

Andrade impressed with her power against opponents like Jessica Penne and Joanne Calderwood, earning Performance of the Night bonuses. Her hard-fought victory over Angela Hill, also was earned her a Fight of the Night bonus. In 2017, Andrade earned a title shot against female Muay Thai master Joanna Jędrzejczyk but fell short in a unanimous decision loss.

Undeterred, Andrade returned to action, defeating Claudia Gadelha and Tecia Torres in dominant performances. Her stunning knockout of Karolina Kowalkiewicz earned her another title opportunity. Facing Rose Namajunas at UFC 237, Andrade made history with a devastating slam knockout, capturing the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship.

Her title reign, however, was short-lived as she lost the belt to Weili Zhang. In a rematch against Namajunas, Andrade showcased her resilience but narrowly missed out on victory. Undeterred, she made a move to the flyweight division, defeating Katlyn Chookagian before falling short in a title challenge against Valentina Shevchenko.

Beyond her fighting career, Andrade lives in Las Vegas with her wife.

Marina Rodriguez

Born on April 29, 1987, in Bagé, Brazil, Rodriguez embarked on her professional MMA journey in 2015. Initially competing predominantly in Brazil, she caught the attention of the MMA world when she joined Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil in 2018. She earned her spot in the UFC with a technical knockout victory in the first round.

Rodriguez made her UFC debut against Randa Markos, resulting in a majority draw. Since then, Rodriguez has amassed an impressive nine wins and three losses inside the Octagon.

Her victories include notable wins over Tecia Torres, Cynthia Calvillo, Carla Esparza (one of the shortest UFC fighters in history but also a former champion), Michelle Waterson, Mackenzie Dern, Yan Xiaonan, and Amanda Lemos. With six wins by knockout, one by submission, and two by decision, Rodriguez has showcased her well-rounded skill set.

As of May 23, 2023, Rodriguez holds the #8 ranking in the UFC women’s strawweight division, a testament to her skill and dedication.

Is The UFC Big in Brazil?

Brazilian UFC Fighters

Let’s just say… Yes.

Brazil is a hotbed of MMA with a rich history in combat sports and has more UFC fans than any other country in the world, with an estimated 34 million fans.

The UFC held its first event in Brazil in 1998, and since then, the popularity of the sport has only grown. High-profile Brazilian fighters have propelled the sport’s popularity in the country and inspired many young Brazilians to take up the sport.

The UFC has had an office in São Paulo since 2013 to tap into the country’s great enthusiasm for combat sports.

And while football is still Brazil’s first love, MMA is growing very quickly, and the UFC is leading the charge.

Conclusion About Brazilian UFC Fighters

Brazil has produced an incredible amount of talent in the world of MMA, and Brazilian UFC fighters are among the best in the business.

Brazilian UFC fighters bring pride to Brazil with their talent and determination and inspire Brazilian men and women to pursue the sport of MMA.

We will definitely see Brazil continue to produce even more talent as the sport’s popularity continues to grow in the country. 

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We're a team of fight fans and martial arts practitioners. Many of us have been involved in martial arts our entire lives.