ByStephen Adamson, writer at
I love the game. I love the hustle. MP Staff Writer and Retired Rapper. Twitter: @_StephenAdamson
Stephen Adamson

Brazil has long been a juggernaut in the UFC and MMA world, with multiple men and women who have competed at the highest level and successfully made a considerable living within the sport. True fans of the art of the sport know the influence the South American country has brought to the game.

But I would be remiss to say there wasn't a leader of this movement -- Royce Gracie. He wasn't the creator of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but he mastered it. And it was through game-changing efforts that MMA changed for the better back in 1993.

Gracie is important to modern martial arts history due to the fact that in the last century, the only fighting-innovators who came close to matching Gracie's reach and influence were Bruce Lee and Jigoro Kano.

He was eventually surpassed by a new breed of fighter (and yes he's on this list, but *spoiler alert* not at the top) but it was Gracie who did what many pioneers of a sport do - he changed the way you compete and made others adapt to that style.

And boy did they adapt! José Aldo and many other Brazilian fighters have taken the MMA scene by storm.

The sport has obviously picked up steam in Brazil, particularly due to the fact that so many fighters have emerged from the country in the wake of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wave.

Here are the stipulations for the piece. It excludes weight-class, doesn't consider gender, and an Importance-rating comes in to play. In other words, impact on the sport is probably the biggest decider for a high ranking. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 of all time:

10. Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino (Record: 14-1)

Hometown: Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

Before you freak about her being female, I'm considering this with gender and weight class as parameters. And also, if you're sitting at home mad, please believe she could probably end you.

After losing her first fight due to an error of judgment on her part, she went on to win consecutive fights and prove her featherweight dominance in the sport. Oh, and can't you tell? She's Brazilian. Hence, the Brazilian flag bikini!

9. Junior dos Santos (Record: 27-4)

Hometown: Caçador, Brazil

Junior dos Santos is currently the #2 heavyweight in the UFC. He's still very much in competition form, with a big fight coming up this weekend against Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight Night dos Anjos vs Cowboy 2 Live on FOX.

He's a 6'4" big boy, weighing in at 238 lbs. I wouldn't want to get in the Octagon with this man.

8. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (Record: 23-10)

Hometown: Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

Rua seemed destined to make it to the top end of this list at the beginning of his career. When he was just 23, he was kind of indoctrinated into becoming Wanderlei Silva's protege. He already recognized as one of the very best fighters in the entire world.

But it was persistent injuries that slowed Rua significantly. He's been messed up, but he's still managed to get in the ring and get by on sheer heart and warrior tendencies.

7. Vitor Belfort (Record: 25-11)

Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The boy came straight outta Rio and did this...

A crazy moment captured in an even crazier video, this piston-like punching of Wanderlei Silva back in 1998 was one of the best Vitor Belfort moments ever... arguably the best.

6. Lyoto Machida (Record: 22-7)

Hometown: Salvador, Brazil

Rashad Evans' knockout face that became an internet meme and sensation came courtesy of a brutal blow from Machida.

Clearly anybody who can leave somebody looking like that has talent. But it was how it happened that gave people reason to cheer.

He's very easily in the conversation for best Brazilian based on his record as well as his style of fighting.

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Record: 34-10-1)

Hometown: Vitória da Conquista, Bahia, Brazil

He's a great fighter on the ground, but it was in 2001 at Pride 17 when he proved he could throw some punches standing as well. He successfully fought Heath Herring, who was perceived as packing more of a punch.

He'd probably be considered more of a heavyweight had Fedor Emelianenko not been around. In fact, he almost wasn't. Emelianenko was supposed to join the Russian Judo team but didn't make the cut.

Those two had some epic battles.

4. José Aldo (Record: 25-2)

Hometown: Manaus, Brazil

Of course, right now there's a sour taste in the mouth of the great José Aldo, but he's definitely one of the greatest featherweight fighters of all time regardless. He might have earned himself a spot even higher on this list (would've been difficult, though) had he defeated Conor McGregor at UFC 194.

But this happened...

He can't hang his head, though. These things happen. I hope to see this rematch soon, and for Aldo to leave on a higher note than that. I mean, it really doesn't get much more devastating than a 13 second knockout.

3. Wanderlei Silva (Record: 35-12-1)

Hometown: Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

Of course, 35 wins is nothing to sneeze at. Wanderlei Silva is one of the great innovators of the Brazilian fighting community. He fought in Japan and had tattoos and overall was just a new breed of fighter. He was a whirling dervish and destroyed anything and anyone in his path.

He finally retired in the Fall of 2014.

2. Royce Gracie (Record: 14-2-3)

Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I already mentioned all of the reasons above as to why he belongs in this conversation. But I will leave you with this highlight reel to further cement his case for #2 most important Brazilian fighter in UFC and MMA history...

1. Anderson Silva (Record: 34-6)

Hometown: São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Anderson Silva is the GOAT.

I know it's difficult to swallow for some haters out there, but this dude proved to be fairly unbeatable throughout his long and successful career.

For more than six years, Anderson Silva was the top middleweight in the entire sport. He won 16 consecutive fights between 2006 and 2013. That alone was impressive, but it was also the Spider moves that he put on. He didn't just win fights; he won fights with a style and flair unlike anyone else we've ever seen.


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