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Luiz de Franca, a Kimura Nova Uniao fighter, was murdered in Brazil

Tragedy has struck the MMA community in Natal, Brazil.

Luiz de Franca, a 3-0 welterweight from Kimura Nova Uniao team, was murdered inside a gym on Monday morning in Natal, Brazil. The MMA fighter, who also worked as a teacher at the Alta Performance gym in Natal, was shot several times.

According to reports, the main suspect in the murder is a police lieutenant who used to train at the Alta Performance gym, but he was excluded 15 days ago because "he was too violent." The local police told G1 that the crime was caught on tape, but they have yet to detail if it was actually a cop that killed the 25-year-old MMA fighter.

Alta Performance is located 13 miles away from Ginasio Nelio Dias, an arena that will host a UFC Fight Night card headlined by Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson on March 23.

Police colonel Lenildo Sena, who is investigating the crime, told G1 that the suspect has suffered from depression in the past, but hasn’t showed signs of psychological problems recently.

"It was a cowardly act," UFC middleweight Ronny Markes, a teammate of de Franca at Kimura Nova Uniao, posted on his Facebook page. "Really sad to see a guy full of life, that always helped everybody, die like that. I want justice."

De Franca made his professional MMA debut in December of 2012, submitting Diego Mad Dog with an arm-triangle choke. He fought twice in the first semester of 2013, finishing Anderson Nicolas Muniz da Silva and Jefferson Silva.

De Franca started his MMA career as an amateur in early 2012 at the Tuff-N-Uff cage. Training with Wanderlei Silva is Las Vegas at the time, the Brazilian went 0-2 as an amateur before moving back to Brazil.

"I’m really sad," MMA legend Wanderlei Silva posted on his Facebook page. "Luiz de Franca, who trained with us in Las Vegas for almost a year, was brutally murdered this Monday morning in Natal. He was only 25 and never got himself in trouble. He was a good kid."

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