Though the roots of their fighting system, Gracie jiu jitsu, are buried deep in Japanese soil, there is no doubt that Brazil is the mother of the modern mixed martial arts movement. For decades the Gracies' art was a secret shared with a select few, a closed system quasi-famous on the streets of Brazil—but nowhere else.
Rorion Gracie changed all that. In 1978, he came to America with $2,000 and a dream: to take his family's art worldwide.
Three decades later, after helping create the UFC in 1993, it's clear he's succeeded.
Now called Brazilian jiu jitsu, it's a ubiquitous mainstream presence, recognized around the globe as one of the most effective hand-to-hand combat systems ever created.
While the Gracies took the lead, their countrymen soon followed. Brazil has been a spawning ground of top talent since the sport was created. Two Brazilians, Jose Aldo and Renan Barao, currently hold UFC gold, and there's never been a moment in the sport's history when Brazilians weren't near the pinnacle of greatness.
What follows are the 15 greatest Brazilian fighters in MMA history. The list of candidates for this honor was long and distinguished—making disagreement almost inevitable. Think you see a shocking omission, like the great Renzo Gracie? Make your case in the comments.