RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — A long partnership between Brazilian MMA teams Nova Uniao and Kimura has come to an end after 20 years.
Kimura is a popular MMA and jiu-jitsu team in Natal, where talents like Renan Barao, Claudia Gadelha, Jussier Formiga and Ronny Markes trained under Jair Lourenco, and constantly traveled between Natal and Rio de Janeiro to prepare for their MMA fights.
In a surprising turn of events, Nova Uniao announced on Nov. 16 that it will no longer be affiliated with Kimura. Studio Jiu-Jitsu, Trend Fit Academia and Unisports are no longer part of the Nova Uniao group as well.
“There's a restructuring in Nova Uniao today that doesn’t involve only the competition part,” Pederneiras told reporters at Nova Uniao’s new training center. “Some rules were created and some teams, not only Kimura, couldn’t fit in those rules. It’s not that they are wrong and we’re right, but when you set a goal to grow and organize, my way of thinking won’t always be like yours, but that doesn’t mean we’re no longer friends.”
Back in July, Pederneiras posted statement on social media revealing that they would no longer allow fighters to represent any team other than Nova Uniao. Athletes like Formiga and Barao always represented both Nova Uniao and Kimura. Gadelha also represented both teams before leaving in September 2016.
Pederneiras declined to detail exactly what led to the end of the Nova Uniao-Kimura partnership, but admits that the new rule that an athlete wouldn’t be able to represent both teams was one of the key factors.
“We won’t forget an history that was created for more than 20 years,” Pederneiras said. “I think both Nova Uniao and Kimura, and the other teams, brought us great athletes, and we brought them knowledge so we could walk side by side towards our final goal of building champions.
“I think it was a good trade. You have an athlete with a big potential and sent them to another team to develop more of his potential and reach the highest level. I think that trade was good for everyone for as long as it lasted. I continue to be friends with Jair and every other coach.”
Lourenco, who moved to the United States in 2016 to train current Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader at Power MMA, declined to comment when reached out by MMA Fighting, but released a statement on his social media.
“I fought until I could to stay on the team,” Lourenco wrote. “I never had Kimura as just a partner of Nova Uniao, it was always a Nova Uniao unit, like I had in ‘Dede’ a master, never only a partner. Everybody knows how I feel about Dede, and my plan was always to be by his side until the end, but unfortunately it’s not only up to Dede or myself.”