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Top 15 Brazilian prospects to watch in 2020

Herbeth Sousa is the Future MMA bantamweight champion.
Marcos Santos, Future MMA

Brazil once had more UFC champions than any other country, but times have changed. Sure, there are two-division champions in Bellator and the UFC that came from Brazil, but Patricio Pitbull and Amanda Nunes are the exception these days.

As a new year begins, MMA Fighting has compiled a 2020 list of the best prospects to watch on the Brazilian regional circuit. Don’t be surprised to see some of these names ink deals with the big leagues over the next 12 months.

Herbeth Sousa (14-1) scored key wins in 2019, choking out fellow prospects Glyan Alves and Taigro Costa (watch below) to win the Future MMA bantamweight gold after starting his career as a flyweight. “Indio” stopped 10 of his 14 foes via submission.

Augusto Matias (7-1) became an MMA fighter in 2015, but only got to one of the best promotions in his native country in 2019. The Pitbull Brothers lightweight stopped five of his opponents via submission, including his latest victim in August (watch below).

Joanderson Brito (11-2-1) is a 24-year-old prospect from Maranhao who has not tasted defeat over his last 11 professional bouts, which includes a trip to Peru, when he forced respected veteran Johnny Iwasaki to tap to strikes in the third round (watch below) and a win under the LFA banner in May.

Julia Polastri (7-2) was slated to fight for the vacant Shooto Brazil strawweight belt against Jessica Delboni, who just handed Lindsey VanZandt a loss at Invicta FC, and claimed the gold with an incredible second-round TKO.

Lucas Almeida (10-0) started his career as a featherweight in 2015, but found his ideal weight at 155 pounds, then capturing the lightweight title at Max Fight and signing with Jungle Fight where he knocked out Nico Cocuccio with a brutal flying knee to collect his second belt in Brazil (watch below).

Maria Silva (5-0) has only fought five times in the sport, but she has done enough to show some potential. “Black Widow”, 24, is 15-0-1 in kickboxing and finished four of five in the very first round as a MMA fighter.

Matheus Mendonça (5-0) started his MMA career in July 2019, but already kicks off 2020 with an impressive 5-0 record that includes a win over Rudson Caliocane, who held the Titan FC bantamweight title at the time. “Bocao”, 20, is a teammate of Charles Oliveira in Sao Paulo.

Felipe Esteves (7-0) went viral after winning a title in Brazil (watch below) and donating his entire purse to his opponent. Unbeaten in MMA with seven finishes, the 30-year-old flyweight is also a member of the national wrestling team in Brazil and is pursuing a spot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. That said, his main goal is to become a MMA champion.

Gabriel Braga (4-0) is one of the most promising MMA talents in Brazil today. Son of MMA veteran Diego Braga, the unbeaten 21-year-old featherweight last fought in July (watch below), the same night his father competed (and won) for one last time. Braga built his record competing at Shooto Brazil and Future MMA, finishing three opponents.

Bruce Souto (13-3) racked up nothing but wins since 2015. “Soldier of Christ”, 11-1 in his last 12 appearances, is a former Jungle Fight welterweight champion who fought and won under the M-1 Challenge (watch below) and ACB banners before returning to Brazil and defeating Brazilian prospect Willian Cilli via decision last May.

Augusto da Silva (19-2) has jumped around promotions in Brazil collecting wins for the past five years, recently adding the 17th straight victory to his credit at Shooto Brazil’s final show of 2019. “Spartas”, 26, finished most of his opponents so far at both bantamweight and featherweight divisions.

Hugo Cunha (5-0), the only heavyweight in the list, is a teammate of Thiago Santos at Rio de Janeiro’s TFT. With a wrestling background and efficient ground work, “Silverback” made his international debut last January, defeating Marino Eatman at Titan FC, before stopping the man that once gave Johnny Walker a 18-second KO loss.

Natalia Silva (12-5-1) had a rough start in the sport between 2015 and 2016, going 3-4-1, but turned things around to win nine of her next 10 and capture (and defend) the Jungle Fight flyweight championship. The only loss in that period came in a decision to unbeaten UFC prospect Marina Rodriguez.

Natalia Silva finaliza Tarciara Santos no Jungle Fight 92

Veja o momento da finalização de Natalia Silva sobre Tarciara Santos no Jungle Fight 92.

Posted by Território Tupiniquim on Monday, October 2, 2017

Valesca Machado (7-2, 1 no-contest) gave aforementioned Polastri her last loss in Brazil. The 24-year-old atomweight is riding a five-fight winning streak with her last three coming by way of technical knockout.

Yan Teixeira (8-1) entered the cage four times in 2019, finishing three rivals before claiming the interim Shooto Brazil 119-pound belt with a third-round rear-naked choke against Doglas Cunha. “Yanzinho,” 24, scored all but one of his MMA wins via stoppage.

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