Check out this commercial that runs on Brazilian TV -
The UFC returned to Brazil this past August of 2011 after an almost 12 year self imposed exile. There is a lot of talk about the UFC’s plans to continue expanding in Europe and into the giant markets of India, China and Brazil. For Brazilian MMA stars to be in Honda commericals, we have come a long way. Let’s take a look!
There is the general conception that Brazil is where the sport of MMA was born. Tapes of beach and street fights, and word of mouth of gym and dojo battles go back decades in Brazil. No rules fights in the 1980′s were basically Jiu Jitsu grudge matches as fighters from different disciplines squared off in literally no rule bouts.
No Brazilian organization was able to survive the early, mid and late nineties however. The IVC, World Vale Tudo and many others ran shows but had no sustainability as a sport. Those early days were testosterone filled, and general public in Brazil thought negatively of the athletes, and certainly did not look at Vale Tudo as a sport.
Then the athletes started to perform overseas. They saw the sport developing, and the way Japanese and American athletes behave in and out of the ring. It goes without saying that the techniques of BJJ and Muay Thai that were prevalent in Brazil would allow the Brazilians to compete at a high level and at times dominate the sport of MMA. Once the Brazilians learned to handle the press conferences, public attention and to limit the personal rivalries, they were ready for the big time.
I attended the first UFC Brazil, about 12 years ago. The tension was visible in the audience and among the athletes. During the Vanderlei Silva versus Vitor Belfort fight, security was literally scared. I saw eight security guards in a prayer circle.
I remember attending an event in Brazil where a dojo showed up armed to the teeth to wait for their rivals. Only some serious politicking by the promoters prevents a real legit shootout. The names aren’t important, but it happened, and some very big future names were involved.
The UFC waited nearly a dozen years to return to Brazil, and it looks to be a wise choice. The athletes have turned themselves into professionals, and old rivalries have become a support group as the fighters have become acquaintances and at times friends as they fought together on overseas shows.
And they were returning to Brazil with money, fame and a different behavior. It took twelve years, but now we are getting to see Honda commercials featuring fighters in BRazil. We have come a long way.
Apparently the UFC was so successful in their 2012 return to Brazil that they are planning a regular calendar in that country. No more waiting twelve years, they will be back frequently to the land of Vale Tudo! More than anything, crossing over into the main stream in Brazil is a true sign that MMA has exploded throughout the world, because for a long time MMA was the bastard child of Brazil. Now that sport can finally go home!