The fame of mixed martial arts (MMA) has skyrocketed in recent years, and the Brazilian fighting sphere is nowhere behind.1
The Brazilian MMA scene is one of the most competitive in the world.
And as the UFC has grown ranking as the foremost MMA promotion in the world, numerous Brazilian competitors have established themselves in the UFC combat world.
Its fighters have regularly demonstrated that they are among the finest in the UFC.
Legends like Jose Aldo and Vitor Belfort stand out among fighters who have impacted the sport.
This article will look at the best Brazilian UFC fighters in MMA history.
Best Brazilian UFC Fighters
12. Cris Cyborg
Height: 5 feet, 8 inches
Cris Cyborg has an impressive 89.7% career win record, winning twenty-six contests from twenty-nine, of which six were from the UFC, where she fought in seven bouts.
She also holds promotional records for the most wins (four) in UFC women’s featherweight division and the most knockouts (two) alongside Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson.
One Women’s Featherweight Championship with two successful title defenses and one Fight of the Night summarizes Cyborg’s UFC stint
11. Amanda Nunes
Height: 5 feet, 8 inches
Behind every successful man is a successful woman, and amongst a decent number of male Brazilian fighters is Amanda Nunes, one of the best Brazilian fighters in the female folk and one of the most successful fighters in both genders combined.
In fact, many widely consider Nunes as the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time, not only because of her success in the sport but because she has accomplished her feats on the sport’s biggest scene.
Nunes has the longest combined UFC title reign in history (3,355 days), the most wins in the bantamweight division (ten), and the promotion by a woman (fifteen).
Nunes is the first woman in UFC to hold two titles simultaneously, winning the bantamweight (twice) and featherweight (once, current) titles.
She defended her bantamweight title five times and currently holds the featherweight title after defending it twice.
As you might expect, Nunes has won the Female Fighter of the Year award, winning the honor twice in 2018 and 2019.
10. Murilo Bustamante
Height: 6 feet, 1 inch
Bustamante has made quite a name for himself outside the UFC octagon, winning the MMA Fighting 2002 Middleweight Fighter of the Year and losing to America’s Dan Henderson in the 2005 PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix.
However, Brazilians do well to remember how their man knocked out Dave Menne in UFC 35 to win the UFC Middleweight Championship to become the first-ever Brazilian titleholder in the promotion’s history.
He successfully defended his title once before leaving the UFC with a 3-1 record.
9. Maurício Rua
Height: 6 feet, 1 inch
Early triumphs in the PRIDE Fighting Championship were only the beginning of Maurício Rua’s MMA success.
He entered the promotion’s 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix tournament as an underdog but progressed through the ranks to become champion.
He debuted in the UFC about two years later but won his first UFC title against fellow countryman Lyoto Machida in UFC 113 to become the light heavyweight champion.
His 2011 contest against Dan Henderson in UFC was initially a frustrating loss as the judges unanimously decided against him.
Still, the bout would later emerge as that year’s Fight of the Year and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame Fight Wing in 2018.
Rua, also known as Shogun, has lost his last two UFC contests, but he has four Fight of the Night, three Knockout of the Night, and one Performance of the Night honors.
He has eight fight-night bonuses, the most alongside Glover Teixeira, Jon Jones, and Ovince Saint Preux in UFC Light Heavyweight division history.
8. Junior Dos Santos
Height: 6 feet, 4 inches
Junior Dos Santos competed in the UFC Heavyweight division, debuting in 2008 in UFC 90.
The Brazilian dominated the UFC, sweeping past 6 opponents before thrashing Cain Velasquez to win the UFC Heavyweight championship; he then successfully defended his title against Frank Mir at UFC 146.2
Dos Santos’ knockout of Velasquez on November 12, 2011, made him the first Brazilian to win the UFC heavyweight title; he also earned his third knockout of the night award in that fight.
Dos Santos’s career record is 21-9-0, but more impressive are his honors, including Fight and Knockout of the Night awards and one successful title defense.
He has the longest winning streak (nine) in UFC Heavyweight division history and the second most knockout wins (ten) in UFC Heavyweight history.
7. Renan Barão
Height: 5 feet 7 inches
Barão’s father was a boxer, and emulating his father’s path proved to be a blessing for the Brazilian.
Barão’s first fights were staged in the WEC (World Extreme Cage), but he began contesting in the UFC after the merger of WEC and UFC.3
His first fight in the UFC was a victory over Cole Escovedo at UFC 130. In 2014, Barão won the UFC Bantamweight Championship without a fight as his opponent Dominick Cruz sustained an injury.
Barao would defend the interim title against Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland. Pegado went on to amass an incredible record of 32 straight victories for nine years; his record holds at 34-9-0.
He also won three Fight of the Night and one Performance, Knockout, and Submission of the Night honors.
6. Lyoto Machida
Height: 6 feet, 1 inch
Machida began training from a very early age of three, majoring in Karate and receiving his black belt as a thirteen-year-old.
He figures as one made for mixed martial arts with advanced knowledge in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, sumo wrestling, and boxing.
Machida made his first UFC debut against Sam Hoger in UFC 67, winning the bout via judges’ unanimous decision.
He kept a 16-8 UFC record, thanks to his Shotokan karate fighting style that helps him attack from a long distance.
Machida amassed one light heavyweight championship, four Knockout of the Night, three Fight of the Night, and two Performance of the Night honors throughout his UFC career.
5. Vitor Belfort
Height: 6 feet
Vitor competed in the heavyweight, middleweight, and light-heavyweight divisions.
He went up against some of the top fighters in the sport at an early age, including UFC 6 runner-up Tank Abbott.
His MMA debut as a nineteen-year-old saw him take out his opponent in fifteen seconds.
Moving on to the UFC, he defeated his two opponents to win the UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament at the remarkable age of 19 and would later win the light-heavyweight championship in UFC 46.
He is renowned for his devastating knockout ability and is ranked second in the promotion’s history for most knockout victories.
As he has contended against competitors from various eras, his capacity to adapt has set him apart.
“The Phenom,” fondly called by fans, has a career record of 26-14-0.
4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
Nogueira started fighting at age five but began to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at fourteen. He received a black belt in both judo and jiu-jitsu in 1999 and joined the UFC in 2007.
Nogueira would defeat Tim Slyvia to claim the UFC interim championship, which he did via guillotine choke.
Renowned for his grappling combat style, armbars and triangle chokes were his go-to submission techniques.
A promotional icon and Hall of Famer, Nogueira has an impressive record of 34-10-11, two Fight of the Night, and one Knockout of the Night honors.
3. Jose Aldo
Height: 5 feet, 7 inches
Perhaps Brazil’s finest featherweight champion in history, Jose competed in his first professional mixed martial arts match at age seventeen.
Regarding his placement, footwork, and defense, Aldo has exceptionally solid foundations.
His fighting styles are phenomenal as Aldo is very challenging to pressure or position for an attack because of his tight, beautiful side movement.
Aldo gives his opponent the freedom to work but baits them for counterattacks by dodging their attacks and launching his.
He has one of the best pivots in MMA, making his defensive footwork even more impressive.
Aldo’s crafty style puts him amongst Brazil’s finest UFC representatives, winning two UFC Featherweight Championships, including the inaugural event; Aldo defended the title seven times to hold the record for most successful title defenses in UFC featherweight history.
He also has four Fight of the Night and two Performance of the Night honors.
2. Anderson Silva
Height: 6 feet, 2 inches
Infamously known as “The Spider,” Silva quickly rose to prominence as a multi-disciplined martial artist, earning black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, taekwondo, and Muay Thai.
These various skills allowed him to later exert his dominance in the UFC.
He has a six-year UFC unbeaten streak and holds the record for the most championship defenses and the longest winning run in UFC history, defending his title ten times.4
His record is an impressive 34-11-0.
1. Royce Gracie
Height: 6 feet
When Gracie entered the sport, there were no regulations, time restrictions, or weight classes.
And so, when he made his debut at UFC 1, he was not looked upon as seriously as the others due to his size, but that soon changed as he defeated three of his opponents using his Gracie jiu-jitsu style; he then went on to dominate UFC 2.
However, Gracie had to withdraw from UFC 3 after winning against Kimo Leopoldo due to dehydration, only to eventually return in UFC 4 and gain victory by submitting three opponents.
He became the first tournament winner in UFC history, and his Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques remain in modern-day MMA fights.
Royce Gracie’s UFC fighting record is capped at 13-2-2.
Brazilian fighters have unquestionably had a significant influence on the UFC and MMA.
It’s challenging to select a handful, but these few have accomplished amazing things in their careers and served as an inspiration for other fighters; these athletes are all regarded as some of the greatest MMA competitors in history and have all had a huge impact on the UFC, establishing their position in history.
References & Notes
- MMA IS THE FASTEST GROWING SPORT FINANCIALLY IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS. SPORF
- Dos Santos seals maiden title. Sky Sports
- WHAT UFC-WEC MERGER MEANS. Eurosports
- A Look Back at Anderson Silva’s Record Winning Streak. Bleacher Report