The UFC and MMA in general feature fighters from all over the world who practice martial arts from all over the world. It provides depth and ability beyond imagination. One country that seems to stand out when it comes to producing high-quality fighters is Brazil.
Brazilians seem best suited to fighting. Yes, they're good at soccer, and yes, they have made their name in baseball, but how many soccer or baseball players can compare to any Brazilian fighters?
In honor of all the Brazilian fighters in MMA, I've compiled a list of the 10 best Brazilian fighters of all time. If you see any noticeable omissions, please let me know in the comments section.
Current Record: 17-1
The current champion of the WEC featherweight division, José Aldo, is possibly the best Brazilian in the world under 25. His domination of the WEC featherweight division is quite amazing, especially when you consider that one of his opponents, Urijah Faber, hadn't lost a fight in five years.
The guy who handed Faber his first loss in that time period? Well, it wasn't Aldo. The man goes by the name of Mike Brown, and it only took José Aldo a round to stop him.
At this stage of his career, he is already being compared to Anderson Silva, and in all honesty, that is a fair comparison. José Aldo holds a technical mastery of Muay Thai, has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), and lands his punches faster and meaner than anyone in his division.
It wouldn't be shocking to anyone if José Aldo has a very, very long winning streak in his future.
Current record: 19-8
Vitor Belfort, if not for his inconsistency (and losses to Couture and Tito Ortiz), would have been well on his way towards a fantastic career. As it stands, he holds notable wins over Heath Herring, Wanderlei Silva, Gilbert Yvel, and Rich Franklin.
In addition to a black belt in BJJ, Belfort also has some of the fastest hands in the sport (see the video below), and he can move twice as fast as most men. He is only 33, and if he wins the UFC middleweight championship, it would not be improbable for him to go on a run and cement his place in the UFC Hall of Fame.
Current record: 16-1
After UFC 98, Lyoto Machida looked to be unstoppable. That night, he had beaten one of the best light-heavyweights in the world, and he had done so in dominating fashion.
A master of Shotokan karate and a black belt in BJJ, Machida seemed to have the skill set to run through everyone in the division in any way necessary. His striking was truly a puzzle to figure out. His ground game was relatively unknown, and no one, not even heavy-handed Rashad Evans, had ever been able to knock him down or even steal a round from him.
Although he recently suffered a loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Machida is still considered one of the best in the world, and rightfully so.
Current record: 14-5
Although not known for his finishing skills, Ricardo Arona has been in some tough fights with some of the best fighters in the world, and he has come out on top in the majority of them. He holds notable wins over Alistair Overeem, Jeremy Horn, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Guy Mezger, and Kazushi Sakuraba as well as Murilo Rua.
Although he is not known primarily for his striking, he is known for being an ace when it comes to the ground-and-pound, and his nine wins by decision can testify to that. He also holds a black belt in BJJ, and is known as one of the more gifted grapplers in the world. He was undefeated in the Abu-Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC).
Unfortunately, his greatest highlight is getting owned by Quinton Jackson. For your viewing pleasure, I've included it in this slide.
Current record: 11-0
Although he retired before MMA became as competitive as it is today, Rickson, along with his half brother Royce, established Gracie jiu-jitsu as a legitimate competitor with Judo and freestyle wrestling as a grappling art.
He won every one of his fights by way of submission, and even claims that he is 100 percent sure that he would beat Fedor Emelianenko in a fight. Due to the fact that he is 51, and retired, I have the feeling we may never know for sure.
Current record: 19-4
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is unquestionably the best light-heavyweight in the world after KO'ing former champ and previously undefeated fighter (and fellow Brazilian) Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida. Shogun is still only 28 years old, and like José Aldo, he could possibly be known as the best Brazilian fighter ever when he decides to hang up his gloves.
As far as striking and grappling go, he could be one of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport. Along with being proficient in Muay-Thai and BJJ, he is also studying wrestling and boxing. That combination of skill techniques would be enough to make any fighter back down in terror.
As far as his resumé goes, he has beaten the Who's Who of the world over the past few years. Alistair Overeem, Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, Lil' Nog, Quinton Jackson, Ricardo Arona, and even Mark Coleman have all been on the losing end of a fight with Shogun. Lesson learned? Don't mess with this guy.
Current record: 32-6-1
Antonio Rodrido Nogueira, or Big Nog for short, is known mostly just for getting the hell beaten out of him and still coming back to win the fight (usually by submission). Along with his technical boxing, which is serviceable to him at this stage in his career, he is also the owner of some the most lethal submissions in the world.
Along with his underrated stand-up skills, Big Nog has perhaps the best guard in the sport of MMA. How often do opponents pass his guard? Never. How often is it the site of an outstanding comeback? More often than not. And that is the beauty of Big Nog. He won't always dominate his opponent, but he will always be in the fight until the last second.
His career has been packed with fights against the world's best. He holds notable wins over Tim Sylvia, Dan Henderson, Mirko Cro Cop, Josh Barnett, and Fabricio Werdum.
Current record: 14-3-3
For a man as laid back and soft spoken as Royce Gracie, it's amazing that he was such an outstanding fighter. Although most of his success can be credited to his BJJ prowess, and the fact that no one else could defend against it, Royce was still a top notch fighter back in the day.
In addition to wins over UFC Hall of Famers Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn, Gracie was also the winner of the UFC 1, 2, and 4 tournaments. He also won each of his fights in the UFC by submission.
Current record: 33-10-1
The only way to truly describe a fighter like Wanderlei Silva in his prime is to stab a grizzly bear repeatedly with a sharp object. The ensuing carnage somewhat resembles what Wanderlei Silva did to his opponents, especially when he fought under the PRIDE banner.
In the prime of his career, Wandy went 15-0-1 against the best that PRIDE had to offer. Dan Henderson, Yuki Kondo, Quinton Jackson, and Kazushi Sakuraba all fell to Wandy, with the most notable being his win over Rampage.
As much as Wandy may resemble an angered grizzly bear when he fights, he resembles a great-white shark when he sees that he has hurt his opponent. Using a combination of devastating Muay Thai, head stomps, soccer kicks, and flying head stomps were all creative ways that Wandy found to dismantle his opponents.
While his UFC career has been somewhat lackluster, he has been pitted against the best the UFC has to offer, and he has made each and every one of them into a fight.
Current record: 36-8
Despite his character flaws, Babalu has pretty much dominated everyone everywhere in his entire career. No? Oh well. You all saw this coming. Click to the next slide to see the true numero uno.
Current record: 26-4
Honestly, was there ever any doubt as to who would top this list? Obviously, there are more than a few candidates, but really? Anderson Silva has proven to be a test that only four people have passed in his entire career.
His technical striking is easily the best in the world. Although his dislike of being the aggressor is evident, he will make you pay if you throw the first punch. No luck standing up? Take him down. That will put you in range for a knee, or an uppercut, or something else.
You managed to get him down? Good. Try passing his guard. Nothing there? Well, nothing else for you to do. Just accept it. Anderson Silva is way better than you.
In a career with only four losses, many may expect his resumé to be littered with tomato cans. Not so. In his UFC career alone, he has beaten Chris Leben, Rich Franklin (twice), Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, James Irvin, Patrick Coté, Thales Leites, Forrest Griffin, and Demian Maia. Not only are those some of the best fighters in the world, The Spider made them look like amateurs.
I don't think I need to make his case any longer. He is, hands down, the best Brazilian fighter to ever compete in MMA.