Although martial arts has its roots in the culture of Asia, there is no doubt that Brazil has had a very important influence on how mixed martial arts has developed. Fighters have used their own traditional skills and forced the rest of the world to adapt to Brazilian techniques.
The UFC betting markets will now concentrate on the next big event – UFC 280 – in which Brazilian Charles Oliveira will fight Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight championship title.
Millions will watch that headline bout, and Oliveria will continue a tradition of incredible Brazilian fighters. Here are five of the very best.
Where else to start but with the man who revolutionized mixed martial arts and introduced the world to Brazilian jiu-jitsu? The Gracie family changed the sport forever and essentially helped create the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Royce became one of the earliest stars, dominating the first tournaments.
No one had ever seen anyone use the grappling technique mastered by Royce Gracie and his skills not only brought him personal success but also helped popularize MMA in general.
A UFC Hall of Famer, Royce Gracie is considered as one of the most influential figures in UFC and MMA history.
If Royce Gracie helped make UFC popular and introduced new techniques to MMA, Anderson Silva would go down as a Brazilian fighter that completely dominated the middleweight division in his time. He held the title from 2006 to 2013 – the longest reign in UFC history.
An absolute icon of UFC, Anderson Silva brought style and flair to the sport and influenced many of today’s fighters.
His comeback win over great rival Chael Sonnel at UFC 117 stands out – but his expert knowledge of several disciplines made created a fearsome record. Not content with UFC glory, Silva has now returned to professional boxing and faces Jake Paul next.
It is not only Brazilian men that have become stars of UFC.
Amanda ‘The Lioness’ Nunes is arguably the greatest female fighter and was the first to become a two-division champion, defending the featherweight and bantamweight championships simultaneously.
Although Nunes’ record is very impressive, a shock defeat to Julianna Pena at UFC 269 saw her lose her bantamweight title. But, in true champion style, Nunes returned at UFC 277 to dominate Pena in a rematch and take back her title.
She is an inspiration to many and was the first ever openly lesbian UFC champion.
One of the greatest ever featherweight fighters, Jose Aldo went undefeated for over a decade from 2005 until 2015, defending his UFC title seven times in the process.
After the high-profile defeat to Conor McGregor, he then won the interim featherweight championship, and the Irish fighter moved up a division.
Aldo’s signature move was his leg kicks that did untold damage to opponents in a career that spanned 18 years and 39 fights.
He still holds the record for the most knockout wins in UFC and WEC history and continues to be an inspiration to Brazilian fighters coming through the ranks.
Also known as Cris Cyborg, Cristiane Justino is a fearsome former UFC fighter who has more recently gone on to become a featherweight champion in the Bellator MMA organization.
But it was in UFC that she really made her name, losing just twice in her entire career.
In a changing of the guard moment, Cyborg was knocked out by Amanda Nunes (for the first time in her MMA career) at UFC 232 in 2019 and made the move to Bellator soon after.
She continues to be one of the most feared combatants in the sport though and will go down as one of the best ever when she eventually hangs up her gloves.