Second MMA Fighter Murdered in Two Days in Natal, Brazil

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014

In this picture taken on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, a young Israeli young boxer jumps rope ahead of the Israel's National Youth Boxing Championship at a boxing club in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Boxing provides a unique chance for young Arab and Jewish competitors to meet in the ring as equals, equipped with helmets and gloves and playing under the same set of rules. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Oded Balilty/Associated Press

Only a day after Brazilian MMA fighter Luiz de Franca was murdered in Natal, Brazil, tragedy has struck yet again in the capital city of Rio Grande do Norte. 

According to Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting, two men shot and killed lightweight fighter Guilherme Matos Rodrigues while he was at a juice shop with teammates on Tuesday night. The assailants allegedly approached the shop on a motorcycle before opening fire.

Rodrigues was rushed to the hospital, but he passed away during surgery, per Cruz. He was 30 years old. 

There are no leads or suspects in this case, nor are there any motives as to why the two men gunned down the Pitbull Brothers gym team member. There is also no word as to whether the de Franca killing could possibly be connected. 

Rodrigues, nicknamed "Kioto", debuted as a professional in 2005 and amassed a 19-9 record, according to Sherdog. During his nine-year career, Rodrigues stepped in the cage with some stiff competition, including The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil cast members Neilson Gomes and John Teixeira, as well as former UFC vets Iliarde Santos (twice) and Ronys Torres. His most recent action came in the Brazilian promotion Jungle Fight, with whom the striking specialist had won two of his last three bouts. 

He was teammates with Bellator MMA's "Pitbull Brothers" Patricio and Patricky Freire, as well as Bethe Correia, a newcomer to the UFC women's division. Patricio was understandably in shock following the incident, telling Cruz: "I can’t imagine why someone would do that to him. ...He trains with me for 12 years, and I never saw him getting trouble with anyone."

Patricio also posted a photo memorial for his fallen friend via Instagram:

The UFC is headed to Natal for its Fight Night 38 card on March 23, and it's likely that the world's leading MMA promotion will look to increase stadium security in the wake of these murders. 

One can only hope that the city's MMA fighters stay safe leading up to that event and beyond, and that authorities are able to get to the bottom of these horrible acts of violence.