Mixed Martial Arts is a sport of mutual respect between competitors, and training and fighting in MMA is like joining an international brotherhood of fellow fighters. That closeness explains the preponderance of actual real-life brothers who work, train and fight together in the UFC and its brother organization, Strikeforce.
This Saturday, Dan and Jim Miller will become the first siblings to both fight on the main card of a UFC event as they take on Nate Marquardt and Kamal Shalorus, respectively. (Joe and Dan Lauzon were the first brothers to fight on the same card at UFC 108; the Millers both fought at UFC 124).
But the Millers won't be the only men on the UFC 128 fight card who landed there with the help of family. Here, meet some of the other active fraternal pairs who've gone from sharing Flintstone vitamins and bunk beds to clinch techniques and takedown defenses.
Dan and Jim Miller are the pride of Sparta, NJ. The brothers train together with the AMA Fight Club in nearby Whippany, NJ. Gritty stars in their respective weight classes, the two are known for being willing to take any fight against any man. Last winter, Jim stopped the Charles Oliveria hype train with a first-round submission; just last week, Dan accepted a new opponent, agreeing to fight Nate Marquardt after Akiyama backed out.
Shogun and Murilo Rua
Rua brothers from Curitiba, Brazil are probably the most brutal
brothers in the bunch. Murilo and Mauricio began their MMA careers
training in the ultra aggressive Muay Thai style of the Chute Boxe camp
before garnering international success in Japan’s PRIDE organization.
That success followed Shogun to the States, and last May won the light
heavyweight belt, which he'll defend at UFC 128 against Jon Jones.
Murilo “Ninja” has a tough journeyman’s record of 20-11-1 with some
fights against opponents two weight classes above him. Mauricio “Shogun”
was a nearly unstoppable force in PRIDE, where he won the 2005 PRIDE
Middleweight Grand Prix. The two still train and corner each other.
Raphael, Junior and Freddy Assuncao
The Assuncao brothers are black belts from Recife, Brazil. At 15-3, Raphael fought some stiff competition during his time in the WEC, including a co-main bout against Urijah Faber. In his UFC debut at UFC 128, he'll fight striker Erik Koch. Older brother Junior also fights professionally and is on a five-fight winning streak; both of them are black belts in BJJ. Freddy, Raphael's fraternal twin, has a black belt in capoeria. The brothers run their own gym, Ascension Mixed Martial Arts, in Atlanta, Georgia; Freddy and Junior plan to try out for season 14 of TUF.
Erik and Keoni Koch
Erik “New Breed” Koch is 22 and from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. An undefeated record and five submission victories earned him a spot in the WEC, and he now makes his UFC debut as an 11-1 featherweight. Though he now lives in Milwaukee - where he studies under Duke Roufus and lives with Anthony Pettis - Erik long trained with brother Keoni, a submission specialist. Erik says that training with his brother was key to his developing career. “He pushed me the hardest because as my brother, he wants to see me succeed more than anyone.”