Ricardo "The Brazilian Tiger" Arona
One of the top stars of the now-defunct Pride Fighting Championships, Ricardo "The Brazilian Tiger" Arona is relatively unknown among American Mixed Martial Arts fans. He has been on the receiving end of major criticism for not being eager to finish fights and prefers to get on the top position and stall for the decision win. People can criticize all they want but this is not sports entertainment. The more a fighter wins, the bigger his purse will be.
Ricardo Arona, being a decorated black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, began his career in the ADCC, Abu Dhabi Combat Club. Abu Dhabi is the biggest submission grappling tournament in the world. It has jump started the careers of many fighters including Demian Maia, Fabricio Werdum, Ricardo Almeida, and Ricardo Arona. In 2001, Arona won the 92kg or 202 pound division, as well as the open weight division. He is also the only person to have never lost in this illustrious tournament.
His drive for competition led him to the Japanese-based promotion, RINGS. In his debut bout, he defeated Andrei Kopylov via unanimous decision. He then beat Jeremy Horn via split decision.
His next fight would be against future PrideFC heavyweight champion and pound for pound the best fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko. Therefore there is no shame for Ricardo in losing a decision. He would go on to win his next and final three fights in the promotion against Hiromitsu Kanehara, Jeremy Horn, and Gustavo Machada.
Due to his success in RINGS, PrideFC offered the Brazilian Tiger a contract. He won his first three fights against top contenders Guy Mezger, Dan Henderson, and fellow Brazilian Murilo Rua, all by decision. In his fourth fight for Pride, he would take on American Quinton Rampage Jackson. This would be the fight that got him a lot of publicity, but not for winning. As Arona attempted to lock him in a triangle choke, Jackson hoisted him over his head and power bombed him, knocking Arona out cold. Arona had protested the bout, complaining that it was an illegal headbutt that caused the knock out. He then rebounded with a victory over Sergey Ignatov.
Up next was the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. The tournament would be host to the 16 best middleweights in Pride. His first fight was against Brazilian black belt Dean Lister. Ricardo would advance to the next round beating Lister via decision. His next challenge would be Japanese superstar Kazushi Sakuraba. Ricardo would yet again win, this time by doctor stoppage after the second round. In the semi finals he would be paired up with the Middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva. Despite being a heavy underdog, Ricardo gave Silva his first loss at that weight class. He was one win away from winning the entire tournament, however was knocked out very early by Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
His performance throughout the tournament, plus his win over Wanderlei, put him in the number one contender spot, a rematch with Wanderlei Silva. Silva walked away with the split decision.
He would then defeat Alistair Overeem via TKO, then take on the highly dangerous Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Arona was knocked out in 1:59 of the first round.
Ricardo Arona is currently planning a return to action this year, but has yet to sign with an organization.
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