Team Brazil: A Superpower on the Rise?
Published on Feb 21, 2014
In the martial arts world, Brazil is best known as the home of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the birthplace of Vale Tudo. But it also has a thriving Kickboxing scene, dating back to the arrival of Muay Thai in the 1970s.
In the same way that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a variant on the original Japanese Jiu Jitsu, so Brazilian Muay Thai is a variation on the original Thai style. The instructors who first brought Muay Thai to Brazil - in the city of Curitiba - had trained in Europe, not Thailand.
That meant they had a European-style mindset, favoring a punch-heavy style with kicks hidden in the middle of combinations or delivered at the end.
But the existing Taekwondo scene in Brazil meant that, rather than completely replicating Dutch-style Kickboxing, the Brazilian version incorporated some of the flamboyant kicks and aerial moves of the South Korean art.
Not every Brazilian fighter uses them - especially those from karate backgrounds - but at the same time don’t be surprised to see spin-kicks and flying attacks come from nowhere when a Brazilian is in the ring.
Several fighters from Brazil have made their mark on the GLORY World Series in the past year and other new talents are emerging. Already a superpower in MMA, Brazil looks set to replicate that success in Kickboxing.
Saulo Cavalari (28-2,18 KO’s)
Cavalari comes from Curitiba, the epicenter of the Brazilian Muay Thai/Kickboxing world. The city has produced some of the fighting world’s most ferocious strikers and anyone fighting out of Curitiba has a lot to live up to.
Fortunately for Cavalari, he is more than up to the task. He made his debut at GLORY 11 CHICAGO against the much more experienced Filip Verlinden and completely shut the European fighter down, battering him relentlessly to take a unanimous decision win.
At GLORY 12 NEW YORK he returned, facing the K-1 veteran Mourad Bouzidi. This fight ended with one of the most brutal knockouts of any fighting event of 2013. An overhand right put Bouzidi down and it was nearly five minutes before he awoke and was able to stand.
Cavalari had announced his presence in style. Back to back wins over higher-ranked opponents meant that fans were clamoring to see more. They got what they wanted when Cavalari earned a wild-card slot for the GLORY 15 ISTANBUL World Championship Tournament.
There he will line up alongside Tyrone Spong, Gokhan Saki and Nathan Corbett - three of the biggest names in the sport - and try to capture the GLORY World Series Light-Heavyweight Title.
Can Cavalri become the first Brazilian champion in GLORY? We will find out on Saturday, April 12.
Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva (37-10-1, 24 KO’s)
The ‘Braddock’ nickname was stuck on Silva after friends watched a Chuck Norris film in which the action hero plays a gung-ho character of the same name. The nickname fits, as Silva’s fighting style is endless forward pressure and constant attack.
He hails from Sao Paulo but first came to prominence when he struck up a friendship with the legendary Peter Aerts and was invited to live in Amsterdam and be his main sparring partner. That arrangement lasted several years, during which time he fought for It’s Showtime and faced the likes of Hesdy Gerges, Stefan Leko and Badr Hari.
Never feeling quite at home in Europe, Silva moved back to Brazil and took up residence in Rio de Janeiro. There he joined Team Nogueira, an MMA squad headed by former PRIDE FC champion Rodrigo Nogueira.
Aside from training for his own fights he also puts teammates through their paces in the striking sparring sessions, working with the likes of Nogueira, Junior Dos Santos and ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante.
He is often confused with his namesake, the former UFC middleweight champion Anderson ‘Spider’ Silva, who is also a member of Team Nogueira. In a mid-2013 interview, ‘Spider’ Silva commented on the difficulty of sparring with ‘Braddock’, saying he is one of the best strikers he has ever trained with.
Heavyweight (8-4, 5 KO’s)
Diniz is one of the youngest fighters in the heavyweight division but also has one of the biggest hearts. This was demonstrated when he met Daniel Ghita in the opening stage of the epic 16-man Heavyweight Grand Slam tournament on New Year’s Eve 2012.
Nobody gave Diniz a chance. Ghita’s then-coach even said, the night before the fight that Diniz was “just a kid” and that Ghita would not be throwing kicks in this fight. Instead he would only be using his hands in order to save his legs for later in the tournament.
As it turned out, Ghita had to change plans quickly. Diniz turned out to be much more of a problem than had been anticipated. Ghita fought hard to win a decision. He won his next two fights by KO and made it to the Grand Final but that first match with Diniz made the biggest impression on him.
Diniz comes from Curitiba in Brazil and came up via Thai Boxe, a team that is friendly with the famous Chute Boxe MMA gym. Fighters from Chute Boxe are often sent down the road to Thai Boxe for sparring and to work on their striking game.
The learning curve Diniz has been on since his GLORY 2 debut has been a steep one, filled with world-class opposition - one third of his fights have been in the world’s premier kickboxing league, where he has gone 2-2.
Diniz is currently training hard, improving with every fight and building towards his goal of becoming Brazil’s next heavyweight contender.
Alex Pereira (11-1, 8 KO’s)
Alex ‘Po Atan’ Pereira is one of several new Brazilian talents breaking through onto the international kickboxing stage.
The middleweight was originally a professional boxer. He switched to kickboxing in 2009 and has enjoyed success after success, winning several domestic championships.
His boxing background means he has very dangerous hands and a real killer instinct. Pereira likes to look for the big finish and will take risks to do so, even if comfortably ahead on points.
Pereira’s nickname ‘Po Atan’ is a traditional name among the native Indians of Brazil. It reflects Pereira’s pride in being descended from one of the Indian tribes.
“I go by Po Atan to give respect to my heritage and to channel the warrior spirit of my ancestors,” he says.
GLORY’s next event takes place on Saturday, March 8.
GLORY 14 ZAGREB takes place in the Croatian capital city of Zagreb and is headlined by a rematch between Mirko ‘CroCop’ Filipovic and Remy Bonjasky.
Also on the card is a four-man Middleweight Contender Tournament with the winner earning a spot in the upcoming World Championship Tournament.
The event airs on SPIKE TV in the US at 9pm ET/PT and in over 150 territories worldwide - check local listings for details.
Also airing that day via online pay-per-view is GLORY SUPERFIGHT SERIES 14, which takes place before GLORY 14 ZAGREB and features six superfights. Albert Kraus, Andrei Stoica, Artur Kyshenko and Thai prodigy Aikpracha are among the star fighters taking part.