Since the second Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury Heavyweight championship concluded in an epic fashion, the spirit of the martial arts hasn’t quite left the air yet. Developing one of the most effective martial arts mankind has ever seen, the Gracie family of Brazil has since introduced its art of Brazilian Jujitsu to the MMA world. Winning most of the competitions that would eventually become the UFC often in a minute’s time, fighters of all backgrounds and stripes have wisely adopted the techniques the Gracie’s have developed. So to give homage to these greats, here are the top 10 greatest Latino mix martial artists ever.
Born and raised in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Vitor Belfort received his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jistu from the Gracie family. A journeyman and champion that is able to fight in 3 different weight classes, Vitor has been an MMA icon for decades. Winning the UFC 12 tournament in a spectacular hard hitting fashion, he has since been a fan favorite to many fight enthusiasts. Tied for third for most UFC finishes in history with 14, Belfort ravaged his way to the Light Heavy Weight Championship in the hay day of its competition.
Born in Salinas, California to Mexican parents, Cain Velasquez was one of the most dangerous fighters the UFC has ever seen. No UFC fan will ever forget how he took the the heavyweight championship belt for the first time when he defeated Brock Lesnar in spectacular fashion. His work ethic in the gym is legendary, with teammates raving about his motor that would never quit. After losing his belt to Dos Santos, he avenged that loss twice over, winning the belt for a second time. Many fight analysts view him as the greatest MMA wrestler the sport has ever seen.
Born in Salvador, Brazil, Lyoto Machida is easily one of the most unique fighters ever. Using an unorthodox self-stylized version of Shotokan karate he’s labeled “Machida Karate,” Machida became one of the most deadly strikers and Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners the sport has ever seen. Becoming Light Heavyweight Champion in the UFC’s most stacked division, there is almost no one in the ring that looks more like a Kung Fu movie martial artist than Lyoto.
Junior Dos Santos
Born in Cacador, Santa Catarina, Brazil, Junior Dos Santos has some of the heaviest hands the sport has seen. One of the few people on this list still legitimately competing for a championship, Dos Santos originally became champion when he knocked out one of the most dominant forces the Heavyweight Division had to offer in Cain Velasquez. He holds the rare honor of holding victories over 5 UFC champions and to this day is #4 in the UFC’s Heavyweight Rankings. If you’re looking for a fighter who is really tall and hits really hard, Dos Santos is your man.
Coming from Mexican descent, Dominick Cruz was born in San Diego, California. Cruz has had one of the most illustrious careers ever in the UFC, having only one loss he did not avenge in his 15 year professional career. His ability to go in and out of striking while going at his opponent with multiple angles made him one of the most effective winners in the sport. The last WEC Bantamweight Champion before being absorbed into the UFC, he held the UFC Bantamweight belt for nearly 10 years.
Born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Fabricio Werdum is one of the most decorated fighters ever. Werdum has accomplished everything a martial arts practitioner could want. A 4 time Brazilian Jujitsu world champion along with holding black belts in Judo and Muay Thai, Werdum becoming the UFC Heavyweight Champion was only a matter of time. This could only have happened after Werdum accomplished something no other man had done before him in finally defeating the great Fedor Emelianenko. For that accomplishment along with victories over many other notable greats, Werdum is considered in many circles to be the greatest Heavyweight of all time.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino Venacio
Originally a handball player in Brazil, it apparently was Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino Venacio’s destiny to become a UFC champion. One of the most dominate athletes the sport has ever seen, “Cyborg” instills fear into the heart of her opponents. Boasting 18 knockouts throughout her career, her division has never seen a power striker like her before. Her place in the MMA hall fame is guaranteed being that she is the only fighter ever to become a grand slam champion in which she holds championships across four different promotions.
Born in Manaus, Brazil, José Aldo originally wanted to play fútbol growing up. People like to forget that before there was Connor McGregor, there was this guy. Undefeated for around 10 years, Jose Aldo is one of the rarest specimens to grace the sport. Being the last WEC Featherweight champion to hold the belt once the promotion merged with the UFC, he went on to dominant the Featherweight division of the UFC like nobody has seen before. Known for his uncanny speed, strength, and relentlessness, there was no fighter alive that didn’t fear his leg kicks.
Belonging to English and Mexican descent, Nate Diaz was born in Stockton, California. A brawler with his brother since he was a boy, he is by far one of the toughest fighters the UFC has seen. Winning the UFC bonus awards 15 times, he also happens to be one of the most entertaining fighter to ever grace the sport. But what he is probably best known for is giving one greatest UFC fighters, Conor McGregor, one of the only loses of his career.
Born in São Paolo, Brazil, Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter to ever live. While a black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu under the Noguiera brothers, his true danger lies with his striking ability. Moving and dodging opponents as if they were in slow motion, Anderson would return their kindness with pinpoint blows of all kinds. Defending the Middleweight championship a record number of times, Anderson Silva is by far the most dominant fighter the sport has ever seen.