A scale malfunction that will not allow Charles Oliveira to be called UFC lightweight champion does not make “do Bronx” any less of an inspiration for his brother Hermison Oliveira and cousin Rafael Costa, who compete Friday night at LFA 136 live on UFC Fight Pass.
Three years younger than the UFC star, Hermison makes his first walk to the LFA cage in Caraguatatuba, Sao Paulo, to battle Junior Assis. Nicknamed “do Bronx” just like his brother, he holds a 10-6 record with two no-contests, having won seven of his past eight since “getting my sh*t together” after the birth of his daughter and no longer being “lazy” in training.
Costa (13-3), their cousin from the mother side of the family, is 25. He makes his return to LFA after an eight-second KO this past March. “Rafinha” won back-to-back bouts in the opening round since coming up short in a 2019 clash with Jose Johnson at LFA 78 in Texas, and faces Wallace Lopes in a three-round bantamweight bout.
“My father says the Oliveira family is a family of fighters,” Hermison says. “It’s in the blood. My brother is a world champion, my cousin and I are trying to write our own story too. It’s focus, training, and winning. We guarantee the show.”
“We look up to Charles,” Costa adds. “Rest assured that we’re going to the UFC or [Dana White’s] Contender Series next. We’ll show the world who we are in this fight. I’ll win and call for my shot.”
Winning under the LFA banner is not just a path to maybe joining big MMA leagues next, they say. For the Guaruja talents, it’s an opportunity to become full-time professional athletes and show the kids in the area that you can be successful in life without surrendering to the temptations that exist in the favelas.
Hermison works as a barber in an improvised barber shop he set up in the garage of his grandmother’s house, work that gets him around $300 a month, and trains at night with his brother. Costa jumps in any opportunity he can get to make ends meet, working from constructions to waiting tables. His main goal at the moment is to buy a scooter and make life and work easier in Guaruja.
“We have no choice, there’s no other way,” Costa says. “I have no sponsors today that allows me to be a full-time fighter. Teaching [martial arts] doesn’t get me much money either because most of the time we don’t even charge the students in the favela. But I’m changing the way [kids] see the world [through fighting].
“I go to sleep and wake up watching [Charles Oliveira’s] fight videos. We’re not that close at the moment because his life is very busy, but he’s our biggest inspiration. He came from nothing like we did. It’s not easy in the favela. Kids grow up seeing crime, and I wanna show them you can grow without it. Sports can take us where we want. Charles is living proof of that, and I wanna be that as well. I wanna show the kids you don’t need to go to the wrong side to win in life.”
Hermison vows to “put on a show” at LFA 136 to have “the world asking where this kid was” after he beats Junior Assis in a flyweight showdown.
“If you look at my record, it’s pretty good,” he says. “I’m 10-6 and only lost one of my past eight fights. I can’t say I’m going to the UFC off I win this one, but I believe I can go to the Contender [Series] and show my work there.”
Costa also has big plans for his career after Friday, when he attempts to snap Wallace Lopes’ winning streak.
“My opponent is good and that’s good because it motivates me even more,” he says. “My loss at LFA has woken up a giant inside me. I’ve proved that in my last fight, knocking him out in eight seconds, and I want more. He’s a striker, but so am I. My jiu-jitsu is sharp, too, but I believe a lot in my striking. I have no doubt that Wallace goes down in the first.”