EDITORIAL | The Fall of Brazilian Dominance; Americans Rise from the Rubble to Claim Throne
| For the first time in seven years the UFC middleweight strap is staying in The United States of America. Chris Weidman became the first man in UFC history to get the best of Anderson “The Spider” Silva and he made American’s all over the country proud on the 4th of July weekend when he was able to topple the longtime Brazilian Champion.
Silva’s legacy is already etched in history and he’ll go down in the record books as one of the greatest fighters of all time. Many of his records, including his 16 fight UFC winning streak, may go untouched for years to come. Anderson still has nine fights remaining on his UFC contract and he’ll likely stick around and add to his already golden resume in the near future.
Anderson’s legacy is not the one that was wounded at UFC 162. Rather, it was the Brazilians reign of MMA dominance that took a huge hit when Weidman landed that clean left hook on the chin of Silva.
From the onset of 2009 it seemed the sport of MMA, which was dominated in its infant stages by Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard Royce Gracie, was having a resurgence of Brazilian domination. Anderson Silva clinched his title in 2006 and he held that belt until just a couple of days ago. That’s over six years of Brazilian dominance in the UFC middleweight division. Impressive, but it gets better.
In 2010 the UFC adopted the WEC promotion and its featherweight division. Champion Jose Aldo, who was already listed as one the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, was promoted to UFC featherweight champion and has reigned over that division ever since. So the Brazilians have dominated that weight class since, really, 2009 when he first won the WEC featherweight title. He’s undefeated in his last 14 fights and will be placing all of that on the line against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163 on August 3rd.
Around the same time that the UFC made Aldo its featherweight champion two Brazilian UFC light heavyweights were battling for top supremacy in their division as Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Shogun Rua had a two fight battle for the 205 lbs belt. Lyoto won the first bout to hold on to his crown and then Shogun knocked him out in the rematch fight and ended up with the strap in May of 2010.
Meanwhile, Junior Dos Santos had made a surge in the heavyweight division and was knocking people out left and right. He eventually went on to topple Cain Velasquez with a one-punch knock-out that earned him the heavyweight crown in November of 2011 on the UFC’s debut on FOX.
It seemed that the Brazil was taking over the top of the sport and they weren’t going to let the sport they dominated first be taken from them by any other country. And with the UFC growing and expanding like it’s been doing, hosting TUF seasons in Brazil and having more events in the country, there was no sign of them giving up the thrown any time soon.
But, just like everything else in life, things can change quickly. Much like the domino effect, the Brazilian’s reign over the game of MMA toppled.
Enter, Jon “Bones” Jones.
When Rashad Evans sustained an injury and could not compete in his title fight with Shogun Rua, Jones was asked to step in and fight for the title. Jones was 12-1 and was only 23 years old at the time. He went in and crushed Shogun in one of the most impressive UFC title fights I’ve ever witnessed. He didn’t just catch Shogun with one punch and drop him, he ran through him in unrealistic fashion to become the youngest UFC Champion in history. Jones brought the belt back to the U.S and has held it ever since. He’s looking to defend his title for a LHW record setting 6th time in September as he takes on the Swedish striker, Alexander Gustafsson, at UFC 165.
The next division to slip out of the grasp of the Brazilian dominance was Heavyweight. Junior Dos Santos went to battle in a rematch with Cain Velasquez and got absolutely pummeled. Dos Santos took one of the worst beatings in heavyweight tile history as he got bulldozed by Cain for five consecutive rounds to lose his heavyweight title. America had taken down another Brazilian giant, even if only momentarily. Cain took the strap from another Brazilian and added a piece of gold to the growing American collection but Dos Santos will get his chance to regain the crown in October at UFC 166 in a rubber-match with Velasquez.
And now, with “The All American” Chris Weidman accomplishing the impossible by defeating “The Spider” this past weekend at UFC 162, it seems that the Brazilian’s may have completely lost their top spot in the sport of MMA. Although they are still strongly represented by many top contenders and countless up-and-coming stars the sport is currently being absolutely dominated by American fighters.
Aldo is the only true Brazilian champion left in the UFC while 6 of the 8 UFC titles are currently held by Americans. And with Johny Hendricks looking to dethrone longtime Canadian welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre in November at UFC 167, the Americans will be looking to make it an impressive 7 out of 8 titles for the country.
Clearly, the dominance has momentarily shifted. But, just like in the case of becoming a UFC champion, it’s much easier to get to the top than it is to stay at the top, so we’ll see how long American fighters can hold the throne of MMA dominance.
It won’t be easy as Brazil, the UK, and even Korea, have competitors that are threatening to end the U.S reign at the top of the sport. Just like the sport of MMA itself, the future is unpredictable and only time will tell which country will be the next to dominate the top of the sport.