March 6, 2018

UFC 222: Brazilian Women Continue To Find Success In UFC

By Raphael Garcia

At UFC 222 three Brazilian women saw their hands raised as, Cris “Cyborg” Justino, Ketlen Vieira and Mackenzie Dern (in her case, Brazilian-American, as she was born in Arizona) were all victorious. With their victories they continued a recent trend in the UFC of Brazilian women surging while the men struggle.

There was a time in mixed martial arts when Brazilian fighters were dominating across the sport. Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, the Nogueira brothers, Jose Aldo, and many others represent a period of time in the sport that many believe has passed. Most of these competitors are still active in one form or another, but they haven’t seen the same type of success as of late that came for them in the past.

Instead, it is the women of Brazil who continue to push their way to the top of their respective rankings. Since Jose Aldo dropped the featherweight title to Conor McGregor in 2016, only Amanda Nunes and Cris “Cyborg” remain as UFC champions hailing from the country of Brazil. And while they sit at the top of their divisions, athletes such as Jessica Andrade, Claudia Gadelha, and Vieira are quietly finding continued success in the Octagon.

That doesn’t mean that their male counterparts are completely failing. Paulo Costa at middleweight, Rafael dos Anjos at welterweight, and Jussier Formiga at flyweight are finding their way through the division and pushing toward the top. But when it comes to the women, it seems like the consistent trend is that these individuals remain amongst the best within their respective divisions.

Take the strawweight division for example. While Jessica Andrade and Claudia Gadelha both lost to the former champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, they are still seen as the main “gatekeepers” to receiving to a title shot. It’s noteworthy that current champion Rose Namajunas found a way to a title shot without fighting either one of them, and that is why she’s expected to face Andrade after her rematch with Jedrzejczyk. And Gadelha should be waiting closely behind her.

And as for the bantamweight champion Nunes and featherweight empress Cyborg, both have cleaned out their respective divisions enough that UFC President Dana White is in full support of a superfight between the two. Matching these two women against each other in Brazil would helps to create a massive event for the fan base in that region to support. It’s a compelling fight that will draw mainstream media attention, and it is the biggest women’s matchup that the organization can put together at this time.

There was a time when women were shut out of competing in the UFC. Ronda Rousey was the catalyst that helped change that. Since then, she’s been supplanted by a number of women from Brazil who’ve now carved their place into the sport. And right now, it doesn't look like they'll be going away as quickly as the Brazilian men that helped solidify this sport years before.

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