Mixed Martial Arts' roots are deeply connected to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). One of the early cradles of the sport was the nation of Brazil, and the South American nation still represents the major hot-bed of MMA talent, with many champions, contenders, and Hall of Famers hailing from Brazil.
Chute Boxe Academy was a Muay Thai gym in Brazil that gave birth to an MMA dynasty in the emerging Japanese promotion, "Pride FC."
Wanderlei Silva was the first Chute superstar who was a human buzz saw in Pride—cutting down opponents in shocking fashion. His strike was terrifying, and he also held a black belt in BJJ—a rare showing of diversity in those early days of MMA.
While the highlight reels were being made in Japan, Chute Boxe was in a battle for prospects and respect with Brazilian Top Team, lead by the Nogueira brothers.
Students of both schools constantly faced each other in matches across Brazil. But their rivalry reached a breaking point in the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix.
It was there that Silva, the pride and joy of Chute Boxe, lost in the first round to Brazilian Top Team member Ricardo Arona. It seemed to mark a severe power shift in favor of Brazilian Top Team, but in the final round, Chute Boxe had its revenge.
Shogun Rua faced Arona in the final round of the 2005 Pride Grand Prix, and Rua came out with a decisive KO.
In Brazil, it seemed very clear that Chute Boxe Academy was the top MMA gym. It began to attract some of the young, future elite fighting prospects like Anderson Silva
and Thiago Silva.
It was the height of Chute Boxe's power.
All empires must decline,however, and the first sign of things a miss was Anderson Silva's departure, citing conflicts with management. Silva not only left, but his destination was to his Top Team after befriending the Nogueira brothers.
As Pride's star fell and the UFC's rose, the bevy of Pride stars at Chute began to drift away to other gyms. The Rua brothers' departure to the Universidad De Luta camp was another major body blow, as was the departure of Thiago Silva to American Top Team.
But the real death blow was the departure of flagship fighter Wanderlei Silva, whose transition to the UFC was going very poorly, so he sought a new direction at Xtreme Couture.
Now, Chute Boxe's elite fighters are female MMA fighters including Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, widely considered the best female fighter in the world.
While I find nothing wrong with female MMA, when a gym of Chute Boxe's level has no elite male fighters, they are in desperate times.
They do, however, have a heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum
in the UFC, and several lightweights working their way up toward the larger promotions.
While these are positive steps, with the amount of talent that comes out of Brazil, Chute Boxe should be far more talented than they are currently.
And with one outstanding fighter, they could turn this funk around. It seems, however, that the transition to the UFC as the dominant promotion has not favored Chute, and possibly a management revamp is the only thing that can save this legendary gym.