Top 10 Brazilian prospects to watch in 2022

Brazil continues to dominate a number of weight classes in major MMA promotions around the world with Charles Oliveira and Cris Cyborg, and shows no signs of slowing down in their production of promising talent. So, for the ninth year in a row, MMA Fighting has dug deep into the Brazilian circuit in search of names that could appear overseas in 2022.

The 2021 roster included fighters who made it 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 roster only contains athletes under the age of 30 who have not participated in major promotions in the past, nor currently signed up to fight outside of Brazil.

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

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

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

Carlos Leal (14-3), 27, gets a pass with one of our rules as he fought once for Bellator – a once in a lifetime opportunity in 2017 – but was not inked in a contract at long term. Leal, who beat Mihail Nica by decision at Bellator 190, is now on an eight-game winning streak after winning the LFA overnight tournament twice in Rio de Janeiro in July.

Dayane Souza (8-1-1) is a strawweight who has competed at bantamweight several times in the past. “Monster” finished off four opponents in their five-game winning streak, three of which ended in the first round. In her most recent appearance, the former 115-pound champion Mr. Cage slapped previously undefeated Elaine Lopes with a choke in the back.

Vitor Petrino (6-0) is an undefeated light heavyweight who knocked out 5-0 prospect Rodolfo Bellato in just 25 seconds on his 2019 debut, and has reportedly struggled to secure decent opposition ever since. CM System’s talent went through four more in Brazil before stopping UFC veteran Gadzhimurad Antigulov in Abu Dhabi in September 2021.

Luann André (8-0) started his MMA career in 2015 with a second round TKO and has yet to be defeated after eight fights. In his most recent LFA show appearance in Brazil last July, “Panterinha” won a decision against Kaue Fernandes, the much-vaunted lightweight prospect of Nova Uniao.

Yasmine Castanho (5-0) has tapped out opponents in four of MMA’s five fights and hasn’t seen a second round since 2018. “Monstrinha,” a 25-year-old strawweight, tapped the then undefeated Maristela Alves on his only fight this year.

João Paulo Fagundes (7-0), 29, returned from a two-year hiatus to win the Shooto Brazil light heavyweight championship last December, stopping his opponent with punches in under three minutes. Representing the Jorjão de Natal team, “King” has four knockouts to his name.

Stephanie Luciano (3-0), better known as “Rondinha” (Little Ronda), hasn’t fought much as a professional, but marked a big upheaval in his last fight with a split decision on the Championships. IMMAF World 2017 Michele Oliveira in Rio de janeiro. “Rondinha” also went 3-0 as an amateur before turning pro in 2019, but it will take patience and good matchmaking if he’s taken to the big leagues right now.

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