Rickson Gracie sits on a fence in front of a body of water. Photo by Denis Martins for Sherdog
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. Links to part one and part two.
You can't please anyone with a top ten list. There's always someone ranked too high or someone who doesn't deserve to be on the list or someone that was left out. Here are some of the fighters I left out of the top ten Brazilian MMA fighter list, and why:
- Marco Ruas (9-4-2) - Ruas won the UFC 7 tournament, forced Steve Jennum to tap to strikes, and submitted Gary Goodridge with a heel hook. And that's about it. Ruas lacked longevity, and, without a blistering peak to make up for it, didn't warrant serious consideration for the top ten.
- Rickson Gracie (11-0) - If we're judging by talent or historical impact, Rickson Gracie's resume is as good as anyone's. His official MMA record, however, doesn't hold up. His best win is Yuki Nakai or Masakatsu Funaki. However you want to spin that still doesn't make up for a serious lack of competition in his recorded career. Hell, Rickson might have made my list had he beaten Sakuraba at some point. That oft-rumored fight never materialized, however, and Rickson will have to take solace in his 460 non-MMA victories.
- Ricardo Arona (14-5) / Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1) - I lump these guys together because there's similar reasoning for each of them. Both Arona and Werdum have career-defining wins (Wanderlei Silva and Fedor Emelianenko, respectively). Both have a list of wins over solid opposition. (They share Alistair Overeem in this regard.) They're both multiple-time ADCC champions. But both Arona and Werdum failed to have a sustained period of dominance, and they both had (at the time) pretty embarrassing losses to Sokoudjou and Junior dos Santos, respectively. Werdum has the added notoriety for looking pitiful in two other losses (to Andrei Arlovski and the rematch with Overeem), while Arona has had one fight (a 2009 decision over Marvin Eastman) since Pride collapsed in 2007, wasting his prime years as an athlete.
- Renato Sobral (36-9) - "Babalu" has a few serious credentials: his IFC tournament victory in 2003 (including a win over Mauricio Rua), a short stint with the Strikeforce light heavyweight title, and some serious longevity in his 13-year, 45-fight career. Sobral had a slam-dunk "Hall of Very Good" type of career, though. He defeated Bobby Southworth for that Strikeforce title. "Shogun" was 24, entered the tournament with three pro fights, and wouldn't break out for another two years. And despite the longevity, he briefly flirted with a serious run as one of MMA's elites only once in his career.
- Cristiane Santos (10-1) - "Cyborg" came up a couple times in the comments (mostly in comparison with Jose Aldo, who I noted won a title in a "developing" division), and she is someone I had on my shortlist of fighters to look at. Not only does "Cyborg" fight in a developing division, but a good chunk of her victories in EliteXC and Strikeforce have come against women who had moved up from 135 to fight her.