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Top 10 Brazilian prospects to watch in 2022

Caique Costa is coming off a 10-second KO victory in Brazil.
Leonardo Fabri

Brazil continues to dominate a number of weight classes in major MMA promotions around the world with the likes of Charles Oliveira and Cris Cyborg, and shows no signs of slowing in its production of promising talent. So for the ninth straight year, MMA Fighting dug deep into the Brazilian circuit hunting for the names that may pop up overseas in 2022.

The 2021 list featured fighters that made their way to the UFC like Caio Borralho and Jailton Junior, and previous ones highlighted future champions and contenders Deiveson Figueiredo, Juliana Velasquez, Alexandre Pantoja, and Renato Moicano.

As always, MMA Fighting’s list only features athletes that are under the age of 30 and haven’t competed in major promotions in the past, nor are currently signed to fight outside of Brazil.

Caique Costa (12-1) recently returned from a three-year break in the sport to make short work of Daniel Alves in the co-main event of Jungle Fight 104 in December, stopping him with punches in just 10 seconds. The 28-year-old featherweight is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and has won his past nine fights, with only three going to decisions.

Igor da Silva (5-0) is undefeated as a professional with a 100-percent finishing rate. The 18-year-old flyweight fights out of Chute Boxe Bauru and displayed his striking skills with a solid stoppage in late 2021, finishing his opponent with punches to the body at Jungle Fight.

Ismael Bonfim (16-3), a teammate of UFC’s Vicente Luque at Cerrado MMA, also holds a 4-1 record in professional boxing and 24-3 in amateur boxing. “Marreta’s” only defeat in his previous 16 MMA bouts was to future UFC fighter Renato Moicano for the Jungle Fight belt in 2014. Since then, Bonfim has won 10 straight with seven finishes.

Carlos Leal (14-3), 27, gets a pass with one of our rules since he’s fought once for Bellator — a one-off opportunity in 2017 — but wasn’t inked to a long-term contract. Leal, who defeated Mihail Nica via decision at Bellator 190, is now on an eight-fight winning streak after winning twice at LFA’s one-night tournament in Rio de Janeiro in July.

Dayane Souza (8-1-1) is a strawweight who has competed at bantamweight on many occasions in the past. “Monster” finished four opponents over her current five-fight winning streak, three which ended inside the opening round. In her most recent appearance, the former Mr. Cage 115-pound champion tapped previously unbeaten Elaine Lopes with a rear-naked choke.

Vitor Petrino (6-0) is an undefeated light heavyweight who knocked out 5-0 prospect Rodolfo Bellato in just 25 seconds in his debut in 2019, and reportedly had a rough time getting decent opposition since. The CM System talent ran through four others in Brazil before stopping UFC veteran Gadzhimurad Antigulov in Abu Dhabi in September 2021.

Luann Andre (8-0) started his MMA career in 2015 with a second-round TKO and has yet to be defeated after eight bouts. In his most recent appearance at LFA’s show in Brazil this past July, “Panterinha” won a decision over highly-touted Nova Uniao lightweight prospect Kaue Fernandes.

Yasmin Castanho (5-0) has tapped opponents in four of five MMA bouts and hasn’t seen a second round since 2018. “Monstrinha,” a 25-year-old strawweight, tapped then-undefeated Maristela Alves in her sole bout this year.

Joao Paulo Fagundes (7-0), 29, returned from a two-year hiatus to capture the Shooto Brazil light heavyweight championship this past December, stopping his opponent with punches in less than three minutes. Representing Natal’s Team Jorjão, “King” has four knockouts to his credit.

Stephanie Luciano (3-0), better known as “Rondinha” (Little Ronda), hasn’t fought much as a professional, but scored a big upset in her most recent bout with a split decision over 2017 IMMAF World Championships Michele Oliveira in Rio de Janeiro. “Rondinha” also went 3-0 as an amateur before turning pro in 2019, but will require patience and proper matchmaking if taken to the big leagues right now.

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