From left to right: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Anderson Silva, and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Photo by Sherdog.com
The UFC returns to Brazil on Saturday night after nearly thirteen years since Ultimate Brazil in 1998. In commemoration of the event, Bloody Elbow looks at the top ten Brazilian MMA fighters of all time. You can find part one here.
5. Mauricio Rua (19-5) - "Shogun's" run through Pride's 2005 middleweight tournament may feature the greatest four-fight streak in the history of the sport: Quinton Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona. A knee injury derailed Rua in his UFC debut against Forrest Griffin -- a loss he looks to avenge this Saturday at UFC 134, and his spectacular knockout of Lyoto Machida to win the UFC light heavyweight title preceded an equally spectacular loss to Jon Jones in his first attempt at defending the title. After three surgeries on his knees, Rua may go down as the Sandy Koufax of MMA, a bright-burning star betrayed by the limitations of his body.
4. Royce Gracie (14-2-3) - Winner of three of the first four UFC tournaments. Submitted Ken Shamrock, Kimo Leopoldo, and Dan Severn. Participated in one of the greatest MMA spectacles of all time with Kazushi Sakuraba. His return to MMA in 2003 was ripe with lows: the contested gi choke of Hidehiko Yoshida, a misguided fight with Matt Hughes, and a positive test for steroids in a rematch with Sakuraba. Gracie's legacy, however, was set in those first two years, dominating an overmatched field of martial artists.
3. Wanderlei Silva (31-11-1, 1 NC) - The first Pride middleweight champion, Silva defended his title four times in as many years before dropping it to Dan Henderson at Pride's penultimate show in 2007. During that reign, he won the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix, defeating Quinton Jackson in the finals, who he would defeat again in a rematch on Halloween the following year. In quintessential Pride matchmaking, Silva brutalized Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba in a one-sided trilogy of fights. His full-time return to the UFC has seen a steady decline, though his "debut" fight against Chuck Liddell at UFC 79 is an underrated classic.
2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1, 1 NC) - Had Fedor Emelianenko remained in Russia a simple, pious peasant, "Minotauro" Nogueira would be universally recognized as the greatest heavyweight fighter of his generation. He won the Rings King of Kings tournament in 2000 after reaching the semifinals a year before. In 2001, Nogueira became Pride's inaugural heavyweight champion by defeating Heath Herring (a man he would defeat two more times in his career). He is most known for his 2003 fight with Mirko Filipovic -- a fight widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time -- and his faux-trilogy with the aforementioned Emelianenko. (Their second bout ended in a no contest due to a cut delivered by an accidental headbutt.) Nogueira has the distinction as the only fighter to ever hold belts in both Pride and the UFC, having submitted Tim Sylvia in a vintage "Nog" performance for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 81.
1. Anderson Silva (30-4) - He holds the record for the most consecutive wins in the UFC. He holds the record for most consecutive title defenses in the UFC. And, should he get by Yushin Okami at UFC 134, he'll hold sole possession of the most victories in title fights in the UFC. He hasn't lost a fight since a DQ against Okami in 2006, and he hasn't been defeated since Ryo Chonan's Hail Mary heel hook in 2004. Silva's career took off when he entered the UFC in 2006, but he was also the first man to defeat Hayato Sakurai when "Mach" was considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world way back in 2001. His run through the UFC includes nearly every meaningful middleweight of the era: Leben, Franklin (twice), Marquardt, Henderson, Cote, Leites, Maia, Sonnen, Belfort. Okami would mark his tenth middleweight victim, all of whom appeared in the top ten at the time of sacrifice.