BY: R Eric Ellison
After TJ Dillashaw dismantled Renan Barao at UFC 173, a friend of mine, professional fighter DayTroy Lyons-Lee, said something last night about Jose Aldo being the last “King of Brazil.” It was a good comment, but I did not really think much about it and attempted to go to sleep. Laying there, I started replaying the night’s events in my mind, and I pondered Barao being absolutely dominated in a fight most people expected to have the exact opposite outcome.
I continued to ponder DayTroy’s comment and began ticking off current UFC champions from that mental list all diehard fans maintain. Had I forgotten someone? I rolled over, fired up my tablet and — sure enough — Aldo is now the lone Brazilian champion within the UFC.
That’s not to say other fighters from Brazil won’t eventually become UFC champions, but realizing Aldo was the last Brazilian left standing felt powerful, nonetheless. I guess the idea never occurred to me personally, nor had I read or seen anything on the fact that a wave of change was crossing the championship lines. It’s almost as if this transition has crept up on us without realizing. Aldo’s defeat of Chad Mendes int heir title rematch last weekend has literally kept this lone flame alive.
If we look back just a short ways, we see a very different landscape. For example, in 2011, Junior Dos Santos, Shogun Rua, Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo were all UFC champions. There was no women’s division or flyweight class at the time either. That means four of the seven UFC belt holders at the time were from Brazil. That gave Brazilians a majority share of the top tier of MMA as we see it. Less than three years later, UFC 173 leaves only Aldo with UFC gold.