why brazil is an MMA crazy country

For the first time since March 2020, the UFC returns to Brazil this weekend for UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro (live on RMC Sport 2 from midnight on Saturday). Brazil, the country with the second most events in the history of the major organization, is the true country of MMA, the most popular in the sports world of this discipline. Explanations.

In early August 2015. The bays at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro are packed for UFC 190. The main poster is queen Ronda Rousey as she defends her villainous title against homegrown Bethe Correia. A shocker that would last just thirty seconds to end in a hair-raising knockout for the American at the height of his glory in what would go down as his final career MMA victory. That same evening, former Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldinho made his Fluminense debut against his childhood club Gremio at the Maracana. The next day, the front page of the sports section in the local press is dedicated to her… Rousey!

In a country known as the country of football, the anecdote can be surprising. But not when you know the strong connection between MMA and Brazil. “This sport has become bigger than any other in our country except football,” said Guilherme Cruz, a journalist for the MMA Fighting website. A matter of history and passion. Who will explode in front of the world again this weekend. After an almost three-year hiatus, the UFC returns to Brazil for UFC 283 in Rio on March 14, 2020, the last event on the site before the Covid pandemic disrupts the organization’s plans.

A card that will feature at least one Brazilian in every fight and two of them fighting for the belt: lightweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo is on the line against Mexican Brandon Moreno for the tetralogy (four fights) in UFC history and former lightweight champion Glover Teixeira for the vacant title in the main fight – the main fight – the American will try to become the king of his category again by facing Jamahal Hill. An opportunity to look at the long love story between this nation and MMA.

Influence of the Gracie family

It’s simple. Without Brazil, MMA as we know it today would not exist. First, there is the influence of the Gracie family with patriarch Helio, who developed Brazilian jiu-jitsu inspired by the lessons of Japanese judoka Mitsuyo Maeda. At the time, certain fights foreshadowed the revolution to come, such as the one between Helio and judoka Masahiko Kimura in Rio in October 1951 (after whom the now popular submission technique was named). To demonstrate the superiority of their jiu-jitsu, the Gracies regularly challenge experts from other martial arts in the “Gracie Challenge,” Vale Tudo (literally: anything goes), the ancestor of modern MMA. What highlights the historical and cultural aspect of Brazil’s love of this discipline.

Gracies will then export everything to the US. The man behind the idea, Art Davie, created the UFC with Rorion Gracie (one of Helio’s sons) in 1993 after meeting at his academy in Torrance, California. The start of MMA’s future glamor organization still draws influence from Brazil. Winner of three of the first four UFC tournaments, including the inaugural edition? Helio’s other son, Royce Gracie, who shined in Brazilian jiu-jitsu after being chosen by Rorion to represent the family instead of another brother, Rickson, allowed him to gain more spirit due to his less physical impact. The continuation of UFC history will continue to be associated with the Brazilian.

Iconic fighters

Although the organization first held an event in Japan before coming to Brazil (between December 1997 and October 1998), the local first was held in Sao Paulo, no country outside the United States has been visited more by the UFC in its history: UFC 283 The thirty-eighth card in this country, seven more than Canada, third in this ranking. Same with champions. Only the Americans did better (seventy-five champions and sixteen victories in tournaments), with more than twenty representatives taking a temporary or undisputed belt and winning five tournaments.

We won’t give you a complete list of all the Brazilians who have won the crown, but this list includes some of the biggest names in the history of the discipline with Anderson Silva, José Aldo, Cris Cyborg, Amanda Nunes, Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Charles Oliveira. Renan Barao et al. Some have even become big icons in the country. We’re thinking, of course, of former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who holds the record for the longest reign (2,457 days) and most consecutive UFC wins (16) in any division.

The second largest MMA country

The cador, who exploded in popularity at home after his memorable front kick win over fellow countryman Vitor Belfort in February 2011 – would go on to become the greatest of all time for many, even though his career in the blood sausage wasn’t over. Heavyweight tournament at UFC 12, opponent of the future legend Chuck Liddell (beaten) on free TV in Brazil in 2002, UFC light heavyweight champion after his victory over Randy Couture in early 2004, Belfort is already a star in the country – here Especially reality- show – when he faced Silva for the belt. But his victory will change everything.

Local organizations are proliferating, becoming more legitimate because they are better organized and less in “irregular clandestine warfare” mode (even if some still exist). Professions of being a fighter follow the same curve, which follows that of a hobbyist. “Brazil has more UFC fans than any other country in the world,” details Marshall Zelaznik, the UFC’s director of international development in 2012. “We can get over twenty million people in front of a midnight telecast. There. Untitled UFC Brazil matchup.” Financial returns follow this trend.

When Exim Licensing began selling UFC merchandise in Brazil in April 2011, its estimates rose to $80 million for the first year. The result? During this period, 180 million dollars will be collected! Since then, the popularity of MMA in Brazil remains high, even if the progress has not been equivalent. In part, the result of less-than-bright local representatives in the cage between increased international competition and the arrival of the American anti-doping agency dampened some enthusiasm and caused certain fighters to lose momentum (hello, Renan Barao). But the result remains. Back at UFC 283, Brazil maintains its status as the second largest MMA country in the world behind the United States.

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