This week on UFC FIGHT PASS, one of the Octagon’s greatest finishers is immortalized in the latest Pioneers of MMA and there’s more high-octane action to behold from the Land Down Under.
Adding another all-time great to its list of beloved subjects like Renzo Gracie and Bas Rutten, Pioneers of MMA: Vitor Belfort is a look back at the storied career of “The Phenom.”
On February 7, 1997, a fresh-faced Brazilian, who was just two months shy of turning 20 years old, made an indelible impression on fight fans the world over by tearing through Tra Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo in a combined two minutes to win the UFC 12 Heavyweight tournament.
Unbelievably, 19 years later, Belfort is still a top contender, now as a middleweight, and is still a frightening knockout artist. With 14 finishes - 13 KOs, 1 sub - inside the Octagon, The Phenom is tied with rival and former longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva for most finishes in company history.
Through interviews and old fight footage, Pioneers of MMA takes us on a tour of Belfort’s classic battles with Wanderlei Silva and Randy Couture, winning the UFC light heavyweight belt and The Phenom’s rebirth as a perennial threat in the UFC’s middleweight division.
Packaged along with the Pioneers of MMA documentary, UFC FIGHT PASS has highlighted some of the wins that made Belfort a superstar across his 21-fight UFC career. There are the raucous relics like Belfort’s 52-second knockout of Tank Abbott at UFC 13 to the more modern and absolutely mystifying, spinning heel kick KO of current UFC middleweight champ Luke Rockhold in May 2013.
While we can take the time to be nostalgic about what The Phenom’s done, Belfort is far from retirement and is quite busy preparing for his next high-profile matchup, which has title implications written all over it, against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on May 14 at UFC 198.
As if last weekend’s UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Mir wasn’t enough entertainment from the Land of Oz, BRACE MMA is back with its second event live on UFC FIGHT PASS.
Starting this Friday at 11pm EST, Australia’s largest MMA event series will hold BRACE 38. The card will kick off the organization’s 2016 tournaments with fisticuffs ranging from bantamweight to welterweight, and will feature a superfight between three-time Australian Muay Thai champion Jade Thompson in her pro MMA debut against grappling ace and 4-3 MMA pro “The Nytmare” Hera Tamati.
For those unfamiliar, BRACE MMA streamed its last event for the first time live on UFC FIGHT PASS in November, and it saw the crowning of three champions of their yearlong tournament. The undefeated James Mullarkey took the featherweight title with a second-round rear naked choke, Damien Brown - who just made his UFC debut on short notice at UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Mir - won the lightweight title via second-round rear naked choke, and UFC veteran Ben Alloway took the welterweight title with a third round KO.
One can easily get caught up with BRACE MMA’s history, as UFC FIGHT PASS has well over 100 single fights from the company’s archives and has the past 11 BRACE MMA events ready to be replayed. There’s no time like the present to do so, as BRACE MMA’s schedule is set to have an event once a month for the foreseeable future.
This 2016 tournament starting at BRACE 38 will add the bantamweight division to the pre-existing featherweight, lightweight and welterweight ranks. Each of these individual tournaments boasts eight talented fighters who will work their way toward championship glory by the end of year.
While the tournament format is the Australian MMA organization’s bread and butter, BRACE 38’s main event is the aforementioned flyweight superfight between Thompson and Tamati.
Originally, the highly credentialed kickboxer Thompson was set to make her pro MMA debut by jumping right into the fire against one of Australian WMMA’s best in Jessica-Rose Clark. Unfortunately, Clark had to withdraw and has been replaced by the tough Kiwi known as The Nytmare.
Tamati has won gold in another Australian promotion, and her four pro MMA wins have three finishes, including two submissions. Tamati will no doubt need to rely on her ground game as she tangles with the fists and feet of Muay Thai champion and karate black belt Thompson.
From the Bigtop Luna Park in Sydney on UFC FIGHT PASS, get in on the ground floor of this year’s tournament with BRACE 38. And relive the historic career of The Phenom with Pioneers of MMA: Vitor Belfort.