Never in mixed martial arts history have so many Brazilian fighters trained as part of American MMA teams.
In addition to the growth of the sport and the increasing number of events in the U.S., one of the main reasons for that exodus is the UFC’s outfitting sponsorship contract with Reebok, which has since changed to Venum. Once that deal was implemented, many brands that supported athletes, teams and Brazilian events for decades left MMA, making it impossible for most event promoters and gym owners to keep their businesses afloat.
Among those who have continued to fight against the current are teams such as Nova Uniao, Team Nogueira, CM System, Evolucao Thai, PRVT, Rizzo RVT, TFT and Chute Boxe. Diego Lima, the leader of Chute Boxe Sao Paulo and the head coach of UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, revealed that he is actually expanding his gym.
"Today Chute Boxe São Paulo has the biggest MMA structure in Brazil. We moved to a four-floor building where we have two Octagons and a 23,500 square foot dojo,” Lima said. “In addition to dorms, we have a class where fighters will be obligated to study three areas: English, financial education and sex education.”
The result of Lima’s investment can be seen in the growth of the number of professionals on the team.
"Today we have fighters from Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and we also have [Alan Patrick] and Adriano Martins, who came from American teams to train with us,” Lima said. “In October I´ll have a total of 20 guys fighting in international and national events.”
Lima believes part of Oliveira’s success comes from being in a familiar place.
"Charles needs to be close to his friends and family,” Lima explained. “I know people who trained the United States for a year and never met most of the training partners out of the gym, not even for a coffee. The Latin people are different. And that´s an important part of the process to make a champion.”
Lima also once again confirmed that the promotion has yet to contact them regarding Oliveira’s rumored matchup against Dustin Poirier at UFC 269.
“The first time I´ve heard something official about that was when Dana [White] said at a press conference of the last UFC that he was planning to put Charles on the Dec. 11 card,” Lima said. “We are already in October, but that´s not a problem since Charles never stopped training. If Poirier is confirmed as opponent it will be a hell of a fight.”