During this MMA hiatus, we’ve taken to scouting globe, honing in on five favorite prospects from each country/territory. This week’s installment takes us to Brazil, a nation which has produced champions and legends throughout the history of the sport — all the way back to Royce Gracie at UFC 1.
Heavyweight, Hugo Cunha (5-0)
Hugo Cunha doesn’t have a lot of experience in MMA but is a Brazilian National Team wrestler and a BJJ black belt. You will notice his level of competition has been poor, as he’s fought three opponents with a 0-0 record. Still, Cunha is making the most of it. He has looked dominant thus far in his career and that’s with a 100% finish rate. He’s a bit sloppy on the feet but once he gets the takedown, he’s in his world. Cunha has stopping ability with big ground-and-pound using his size to stay heavy on top. He’s also very good at grabbing the neck. Cunha still needs a lot of work but is someone to watch for this year.
Featherweight, Leonardo Limberger (13-1)
Leonardo Limberger is well-rounded but he may be better on the feet. He’s shown one-punch knockout power but his high volume output is where he excels. Limberger throws one-twos from a variety of angles, almost never throwing just one strike, and mixes in kicks beautifully. He is an excellent range fighter with great footwork and perfectly-timed counters. He uses leg kicks as one of his main weapons and does a good job switching to spinning kicks that are neither sloppy nor telegraphed at all. Limberger has underrated wrestling, as he has great timing on his double leg and he sets it up and executes perfectly. On the mat, you can’t ask for much more: he possesses good BJJ on top or off of his back.
Featherweight, Joanderson Brito (11-2-1)
Joanderson Brito has been on a roll since his last loss in 2015, going 10-0-1 in his last eleven fights. He’s fought for the likes of Future FC and Thunder Fight, which are two top promotions out of Brazil. He’s also the former Fusion FC champ, a promotion based in Peru. In his most recent fight, he made his US debut for LFA and beat a top prospect in Jose Mariscal. Brito is a bull walking his foes down and throwing huge looping hooks with big power. He’s a power striker on the feet but has some good wrestling and better top position to fall back on. Brazil has a lot of good prospects but Brito is one of the ones that really stand out to me.
Bantamweight, Herbeth Sousa (15-1)
With only one loss, Herbeth Sousa is currently on a five-fight win streak. He’s beat Glyan Alves (RIP) and Alexander Keshtov which are two fighters I was pretty high on at the time. His last fight was for CFFC in the US which should help Sean Shelby when it comes time to look at him for the Contender Series. “Indio” is an aggressive grappler who has ten submissions all coming in the first round. His wrestling is solid but obviously, it’s the grappling that’s key. His transitions are smooth and his finishing ability on the submissions is dangerous as he is a black belt in BJJ.
Strawweight, Luana Pinheiro (7-1)
Growing up participating in Judo, Luana Pinheiro won numerous titles at a young age and ranks as a black belt. Pinheiro is well-rounded being dangerous on both the feet and the mat. She has power in his hands but also has good footwork to complement her striking. Pinheiro has good wrestling with her judo background. The Brazilian has some solid BJJ being a big threat going for submissions. Pinheiro is currently signed with Brave CF so there is a question as to whether or not her contract will keep her away from the UFC this year. If it doesn’t, she’s a fighter who could fit right in.