If Brazil isn’t the birthplace of the UFC, it is at least the playground for the promotion’s formative years. The inaugural event in 1993 was held in Denver, and the company’s first 15 fight maps were all held in the United States. It was almost five years before the UFC finally dragged the Octagon to Brazil.
But those early days were essentially a showcase for the little-known martial arts discipline of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His then-leading supplier, Royce Gracie, won three of the UFC’s first four one-night tournaments, his lean efficiency amazingly making the most of a jacked parade of brutes. And in the years that have followed, Brazil has produced more than a dozen UFC champions and some of the greatest fighters in history, from Anderson Silva to Jose Aldo, Cris Cyborg to Amanda Nunes.
It will be a big night for Brazilian fighters as the UFC returns to Brazil on Saturday for the first time since the COVID pandemic began almost three years ago. One of these fighters will share a history-making moment with their opponent, and another will get closer to an uncharted feat. These top the bill among many defining moments on the UFC 283 menu.
The main event in Rio de Janeiro stars Glover Teixeira, who was born about 560 kilometers away in Minas Gerais. He meets Jamahal Hill for the vacant light heavyweight championship and a Teixeira win would give him his second title reign. In 2021, Teixeira became the oldest first-time champion in UFC history at age 42. The oldest champion overall was Randy Couture, who won the heavyweight belt in 2007 at age 45. Teixeira is nine months away from his 44th birthday.
In the co-main event, men’s flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo will defend his title against former world champion Brandon Moreno, who now holds a provisional belt. It will be their fourth meeting, making this fight historic in the UFC and esports. MMA has had its share of memorable trilogies, but never before have two fighters met four times. Figueiredo comes from Soure in the northern Brazilian state of Para at the mouth of the Amazon.
The event at Jeunesse Arena will provide milestone moments for several other Brazilian fighters. Here’s a ranking of the top five fights to watch out for – all featuring fighters aiming for the stars in their home country.
1st Men’s Flyweight Championship: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Brandon Moreno (ic) 4th
You’d think we’d have seen all the fight these two put on for each other as they’ve already spent 62 minutes and 26 seconds arguing in the cage. But their second hour together could be even better in a rivalry like this. For example, if Figueiredo and Moreno had gone their separate ways after two encounters, we wouldn’t have seen Figueiredo’s three losses in the trilogy fight – after having zero in the first meeting and rematch. This is a rubber match in which each man has won once, lost once and fought to the point of a tie. So let’s enjoy the completion of this tetralogy – yes, I had to look that term up – and then prepare to be entertained further by Title Match #5 one day.
2. Light Heavyweight Championship: Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill
Glover Teixeira’s crucial takedown in Round 2 earns him the belt
Glover Teixeira lands a massive takedown in Round 2 to eventually give him the win over Jan Blachowicz.
Even more so than the night’s history-making tetralogy (again, that word!), this is the fight I’m most looking forward to. Teixeira is an instant delight no matter where that moment of combat takes place. His standup combat, while arduous and not breathtaking, is an endless conveyor belt of pain and damage. His grappling is an immovable sheet of lead that is in no way comforting. Teixeira timelessly competes with the same solid courage he showed in his UFC debut over a decade ago.
3. Women’s Flyweight: Jessica Andrade vs. Lauren Murphy
Andrade has jumped back and forth between strawweight and flyweight, and the same law of gravity applies to both universes. Get in the cage with Andrade, and she’ll send you to the canvas like she’s done in her last five wins with finishes. The other constant with Andrade: only champions could handle her. Andrade, who grew up on a farm in southern Parana state, last fought in Brazil in 2019, defeating Rose Namajunas to win the 115lb title.
4. Light Heavyweight: Mauricio Rua vs. Ihor Potieria
“Shogun” Rua, the pride of Curitiba, has said that this will be the last fight of his career and what a career it has been. A former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and Pride Middleweight Grand Prix winner, Rua has wins over multiple UFC Hall of Famers that he will likely join one day. “Shogun” was a terror in its heyday, but that was a long time ago. Today he is 41 years old and has come off a losing streak in two fights after not winning a fight since the summer of 2020. That makes this one of those fights that’s best watched with your hands raised near your face, ready to cover your eyes if anything is going to get ugly.
5. Light Heavyweight: Paul Craig vs. Johnny Walker
Walker was born in Rio de Janeiro but has not fought there since his pre-UFC days nearly a decade ago. He’s called this booking “a dream come true for me,” so expect the striking 30-year-old to be showing off in his hometown. But how will he do that? Walker, a highly creative forward with knockouts in 15 of his 19 wins, walks away with a choke-out win. Likewise, Craig is a grappling ace, with submissions in 13 of his 16 career wins, but two of his last three wins have been by knockout. Imagine that.
And five other personalities… all from Brazil
Rios Gilbert Burns was last seen losing a classic clash against Khamzat Chimaev in April. A little over a year earlier, Burns unsuccessfully challenged Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title. Now Burns is looking to rebuild his case for the competition and a win over tough veteran Neil Magny would be a step in the right direction.
There are only seven women featherweight in the UFC, and two of those are Zarah Fairn and Brazilian Josiane Nunes, who clash in the preliminary rounds. That means the pair make up 29% of the 145-pound squad. Can any of these women pull off the kind of performance that will help revitalize a forgotten weight class?
Brazilian heavyweight Jailton Almeida has won 12 straight fights, all to the end. It’s the kind of résumé that’s eye-opening, meaning many will be watching to see if Almeida can pass the biggest test of his career. Shamil Abdurakhimov has three fights under his belt, but before that he was a top 10 contender.
Making his UFC debut in his adopted homeland, Luan Lacerda has won 10 straight bantamweight wins without losing since 2014.
Back in September, two brothers from Brazil, Ismael and Gabriel Bonfim, competed in Dana White’s Contender Series on the same night and both received UFC contracts. On Saturday, lightweight Ismael and undefeated welterweight Gabriel make their UFC debuts.
https://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/35439991/ufc-283-ranking-fights-brandon-moreno-deiveson-figueiredo-deliver-again Will Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo deliver again?