Survivor: Brazil

By Marcelo Alonso May 20, 2009
It ended like most other workdays for Chris Wilson, who left his gym in Brazil on May 12 and headed for home a few blocks away. Deep in training for his UFC 98 showdown with Brock Larson this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the 31-year-old had clue what awaited him at the apartment he shared with his wife and two children.

“When I opened the gate, a short fellow jumped out from behind the car with a pistol pointed at my face,” Wilson wrote on his blog at chriswilsonmma.com. “He was quick to tell me he just wanted to rob the apartments and not hurt anyone, but if he had to kill me for screwing up, he would. Without taking the gun off me, he motioned over to his friends. Out of the brush came two more guys and two girls. One of them had another weapon that I saw, a .38-caliber revolver. I don’t know if anyone else was concealing a weapon. They took me into the lobby, asking about a doorman and cameras. There were none, and we proceeded upstairs.”

Wilson’s mind and heart raced, as he approached the door, behind which were his unsuspecting wife, Luciana, and kids.

“I told them things could go badly if they didn’t let me tell my wife what was happening before barging through the door at dinner time,” Wilson wrote. “I opened the door and told my wife we were being robbed. She looked at me from the sink, smiling with a plate in her hand as the kids ate at the table. She saw a short guy behind me and thought it was our friend from the gym. I stared at her and said, ‘Lu, I’m serious.’”

Wilson’s wife and kids stayed in the bathroom, as he took the assailants through his apartment. They took anything and everything of value, from a flat screen television to money and jewelry. They even raided his refrigerator.

“One of the cows drank my son Lucas’ chocolate milk,” Wilson wrote. “That was messed up. I actually asked her, incredulously, if she was going to drink the children’s milk. She rolled her eyes and put back the three chocolate milk boxes she was holding and finished slurping the rest of the box she was drinking.”

Wilson then drove the assailants to an undisclosed location, where helped them load everything they had stolen into a cab before watching them drive away.

“It was hard not to wonder if I would be coming back or not,” Wilson wrote. “After all, they hadn’t hidden their faces.”

But he did come back, unharmed but a little shaken. In the days since, Wilson has refocused his energy on Larson (25-2), a Minnesota Martial Arts Academy welterweight who once fought for the World Extreme Cagefighting title.

One of the welterweight division’s underrated strikers, Wilson (14-5, 1 NC) -- a former member of Team Quest -- now trains alongside one-time Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight king Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Brazil. His results inside the Octagon have been lukewarm -- he lost decisions to Jon Fitch and John Howard but defeated form Spirit MC champion Steve Bruno. He seeks more consistency in the cage.

“There’s one thing I don’t understand about the UFC. They love exciting fights. I’m a striker, and I love to exchange, so why don’t they ever give me a striker,” Wilson said. “First they gave me Jon Fitch. After Fitch, it was Steve Bruno, who was supposed to accept the striking game but kept trying to take me down the whole fight. Then I got John Howard, who also wanted to fight on the ground.”

Originally booked to face Josh Koscheck, Wilson was rewarded with a bout with Larson -- another fighter with roots in wrestling -- when Koscheck injured his foot.

“I’m trained to have a good fight,” Wilson said. “In this fight against Larson, I think he’ll start trying to show how good a wrestler he is. He got most of his submissions when his opponents turned their back as he was pounding on them. I can guarantee I’m not going to lose another fight.”

Always smiling and speaking perfect Portuguese, Wilson looks nothing like an out-of-place foreigner at a high-profile Brazilian training facility. In fact, the Portland, Ore., native spent much of his life in the South American country as the son of Baptist missionaries.

“I spent half of my life here in Ribeirão Preto,” Wilson said. “My wife is Brazilian, as well as our two kids.”

Because of the lack of top MMA camps in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wilson moved to Rio de Janeiro three months ago, along with his family, in order to train with the Nogueira Brothers.

“Rio is a big city. The routine here is really different; I’m still getting adapted,” Wilson said. “I’m a professional fighter, and the best place in Brazil to train MMA is definitely here. It’s the only place you can train with guys like ‘Minotauro,’ [Vitor] Belfort and Anderson Silva in the same day.”

Training with the UFC middleweight champion has proven an eye-opening experience for Wilson, who holds notable victories against former International Fight League titleholder Jay Hieron and current Maximum Fighting Championship champion Pat Healy.

“My background is in muay Thai, and I feel really comfortable standing up,” Wilson said. “I’ve already trained with real top guys in many different places, but I can tell Anderson is different. I’ve never trained jiu-jitsu with Rickson, but people say he’s really special with a gi. I believe that Anderson Silva is like the Rickson Gracie of stand-up fighting.

“He’s really special,” Wilson added. “He hits you in certain points that you are not used to getting hit. After that, he doesn’t need to hit you so much because you get worried, so he just makes some movements. Besides using his range well, he also flows very well in the ring at angles. You never know what he will do, and he gets you lost all the time. He’s totally unpredictable.”

Wilson scoffed at the idea of a super fight pairing Silva with current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, should the popular French Canadian successfully defend his title against Thiago Alves this summer.

“I believe Anderson would kill GSP,” Wilson said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to fight the champion. St. Pierre is an amazing fighter. He could try to move up to the middleweight division and have nice results against other middleweight fighters but not against the champion.”

Besides, Wilson thinks St. Pierre will have his hands full with Alves when the two meet at UFC 100 in July.

“I believe GSP is the most complete fighter in my division nowadays,” Wilson said, “but if there’s someone capable of beating him in that moment, the guy is definitely Thiago Alves.”

Wilson has not forgotten his roots at Team Quest and will be watching with baited breath when his former teammate, Randy Couture, meets his current training partner, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, in the UFC 102 main event in August.

“I trained at Team Quest at the best time, seven years ago, when Couture, [Dan] Henderson and [Matt] Lindland were there,” Wilson said. “I’m sure Randy and Nogueira will be an amazing fight. I’ve already trained with both, and it’s hard to say what’s going to happen. Randy has an amazing ability to put the fight where he wants. The problem is that the place he wants the fight to be is the strong point of Minotauro, so I can’t say what’s going to happen in that fight.”

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