Whether it’s a scrap over a video game, the last piece of meatloaf, or the new girl in the neighborhood, there is no set of brothers on Earth who haven’t had a tussle and got their clothes a bit dirty at some point. Thankfully, most of these disagreements end with a truce — the major exception being those Cain and Abel guys.
The sport of MMA is no different, as there are plenty of brotherly bloodlines that run through the Octagons and rings of the fi ght game. However, instead of battling against one another, most of today’s fi ghting brother combos are competing side-by-side – the major exception being those Shamrock guys.
One of the most recognizable names in MMA, the Gracie family is revered and respected for their dedication and execution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) . It began with brothers Helio and Carlos, who helped develop and create BJJ in the 1920s, and the founding of their legendary martial arts academy. Carlos, who passed away in 1994 at 92 years old, had 21 children, 12 of whom earned black belts in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Helio – who passed away in January at 95 years old – is the father of UFC cofounder Rorion and fighters Rickson, Royler, Relson, and some guy named Royce who won three UFC tournaments and went on to become a Hall-of-Famer for the organization. Looking at the entire Gracie family tree is dizzying, especially when it comes to their penchant for competitive fighting. While many parents may have discouraged brothers from roughhousing in the living room, the Gracies likely encouraged it.
Here’s one for you: twins, both MMA fi ghters, both named Antonio Nogueira, and both with just a few letters separating the spelling of their middle names AND nicknames. Just a weight class and a scar really help distinguish these Brazilian brothers.
“Minotauro” truly introduced himself to the North American public with his inspired coaching performance on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Nogueira won the interim version of the UFC Heavyweight title with a submission win over Tim Sylvia at UFC 81, but lost the belt to opposing TUF coach Frank Mir at UFC 92. A black belt in both judo and BJJ, the former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion has the scar on the lower part of his back.
“Minotoro” is the lighter brother at 205 pounds and is a two-time Brazilian Super Heavyweight Champion in amateur boxing. “Minotoro” also competed in PRIDE, earning wins over Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, and Kazushi Sakuraba. He last competed in January, downing Vladimir Matyushenko via second-round TKO at Affl iction’s Day of Reckoning card.
Another well-known and well-traveled pair of Brazilian fi ghting brothers is the Ruas. Murilo “Ninja” Rua is the older of the two, a veteran of PRIDE and a former EliteXC Middleweight Champion. A Muay Thai and BJJ expert, the 16-9-1 Ninja has battled a who’s who of fi ghters such as Dan Henderson, Denis Kang, Robbie Lawler, and Kevin Randleman, and lost a controversial fi ght to Rampage Jackson. A winner of fi ve of his last seven fi ghts, Rua was last seen getting KO’d by Benji Radach at EliteXC’s fi nal CBS-TV event in October.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is slightly younger and also has PRIDE experience, winning the Middleweight (205) Grand Prix in 2005. A BJJ black belt, “Shogun” has put together several impressive win streaks in his career, downing opponents like Jackson, Randleman, “Minotoro” Nogueira, and Alistair Overeem twice. He debuted at UFC 76 with a loss to underdog Forrest Griffi n and ruptured his ACL, which kept him out of 2008 completely. He returned to action at UFC 93 and defeated Hall-of-Famer Mark Coleman via third-round TKO and had an April date with Chuck Liddell at UFC 97.
In January, it was announced that 22-year-old Marcos would make his debut in the early part of 2009 as a Heavyweight, likely in Brazil. No word yet on what cool nickname he’ll receive.
Another well-known brother combo, Ken and Frank aren’t even blood-related as the former Ken Kilpatrick and Frank Juarez were both taken in by adoptive father Bob during their youth. Ken remains one of the sport’s most well-known competitors and groundbreakers, becoming the UFC’s first Superfight Champion with a submission win over Dan Severn at UFC 6. Now in his mid-40s, Ken also competed in PRIDE and Pancrase in his 15+-year career and signed on with the WarGods promotion for several fights.
Frank Shamrock also has compiled an excellent MMA resume, winning the first UFC Light Heavyweight (then Middleweight) title. Frank has competed all over the world in Pancrase, K-1, Strikeforce, and recently in EliteXC. After breaking his arm and losing the Strikeforce Middleweight title to Cung Le last March, the 36-year-old Shamrock made an unsuccessful return to Strikeforce in April, droppping a very one sided match to Nick Diaz. A bout against brother Ken is still being tossed around.
Coming from Brockton, Mass, are the fightin’ Lauzons, Joe and Dan. Joe is well-known for competing on season five of TUF, less than a year after an upset TKO win over Jens Pulver in his UFC debut. A 2006 graduate of the Wentworth Institute of Technology, Lauzon runs an MMA school in Bridgewater, Mass, and last defeated Jeremy Stephens via second- round submission at February’s UFC Fight Night 17.
20-year-old Dan became, at the time, the youngest fighter ever to appear in the UFC at 18 years, 7 months, and 14 days old, losing to Spencer Fisher at UFC 65. Since then, he has been competing at the regional level but has won eight straight fights, including a submission win over Bobby Green at Affliction’s Day of Reckoning event. He also was featured on an episode during Tapout’s second season.
The Lauzons aren’t the only set of brothers mixing it up in Massachusetts, as the Florian brothers are making a major name for themselves in MMA. Kenny Florian is obviously the most well-known of the three, gaining popularity and respect with every fight. Known for his black belt skills in BJJ and destructive elbows, the 11-3 155’er will take a sixfight win streak into his eventual Lightweight title shot with BJ Penn. If that isn’t enough, he also co-hosts ESPN. com’s MMA Live.
Brother Keith isn’t a professional fighter, but he has won his share of BJJ/submission wrestling titles, including Pan American BJJ Championships bronze medals in 2001 and 2003. A BJJ black belt, he teaches and trains with Kenny and other Boston-based fighters. There is also Kirk Florian who has fought just once, submitting Colin Joyce via rear-naked choke at a regional show in August 2008.
THE MILLERS, PT. 1
Inked by the UFC this past July, the New Jersey natives have wrestling in their blood and have been fighting pro since 2005. The 27-year-old Dan (11-1) was the final IFL Middleweight Champion, winning the belt last May. Just months later, he debuted in the Octagon with a first-round win over Rob Kimmons and has extended his win streak to 10 with victories over Matt Horwich and Jake Rosholt.
25-year-old Jim has equally tasted success, running up a 13-2 record. He also is an IFL alum, scoring a unanimous decision victory over Bart Palaszewski last May. He debuted at UFC 89 with a rear-naked choke victory over David Baron in October and followed that up with an 8-day-notice unanimous decision win over Matt Wiman at December’s Fight for the Troops. He dropped a decision to Gray Maynard at March’s UFC 96.
THE MILLERS PT. 2
Another set of Zuffa-inked Millers are Cole and Micah. The 24-year-old Cole (13-3) was defeated by Joe Lauzon on season five of TUF, but has rebounded with UFC wins over Andy Wang, Leonard Garcia, and Jorge Gurgel, the latter of which earned him Submission of the Night honors. He won his last match against Junie Browning at April’s UFC Fight Night.
Micah Miller turned 21 last year, but has been making opponents feel punchdrunk in the ring to the tune of a 10-2 record. The 145’er has a 2-2 mark in the WEC, last losing to Josh Grispi via fi rstround strikes in August. The American Top Team member rebounded with a submission win over Jason Palacios at a regional show in December.
There can’t be much more said about the sheer dominance of Fedor Emelianenko, one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fi ghters. The reigning WAMMA Heavyweight Champion was expected to have his toughest challenge to date against Andrei Arlovski in January, but one right hook changed that quite quickly. The 29-1 killer hasn’t lost since December 2000, and prospects aren’t good for him to lose anytime soon.
However, there is another Emelianenko competing in MMA: younger brother Aleksander. The fellow Red Devil Sport Club fi ghter is a two-time World and Russian national SAMBO champion and has been a pro since 2003 with a 14-3 record. The 27-year-old stands 6 feet 6 inches tall, tips the scales at 250+ pounds, and took a fi ve-fi ght win streak into 2009. And while there have been rumors of young Ivan Emelianenko on the horizon for a few years, no sightings of him in a pro ring have been documented.
Sure, Chuck Liddell is well-known for being one of most popular fi ghters in MMA today, having won and defended the UFC Light Heavyweight title for 2 years in the boom period for the sport. But the “Iceman” isn’t the only Liddell to trade blows professionally. Like Chuck, Sean Liddell was a Light Heavyweight, compiling a 1-2 record in three fi ghts spaced over almost 4 years. His other brother, Dan, was supposed to debut this past August in the Heavyweight division for California- based Pure Combat, but he pulled out.
One of the Guidas is known for exciting battles, while the other is regarded as somewhat of a letdown. Most UFC fans are familiar with the wild-haired Clay Guida, a 27-year-old 155’er who made his pro debut in 2003. Three years later, Clay went 2-3 in his fi rst fi ve UFC contests, including an entertaining loss to Roger Huerta in December 2007. Lately, he’s turned it around and won his third-straight fi ght, downing Nate Diaz in UFC 93’s Fight of the Night.
Brother Jason (17-20) is known mostly for showing up to season eight of TUF out of shape and being cut from the prelim bouts after failing to lose 11 pounds in 24 hours. He followed that up with an embarrassing scene in a loss to Mamed Khalidov this past October at an EliteXC event that involved a disappearing and reappearing mouthpiece and him shoving the referee once the fi ght was called.
THE DIAZ BROS.
The defi nition of “love or hate ’em” fi ghters, the California-born Diaz brothers have made their mark both in and out of the Octagon. While only 25, Nick has been fi ghting pro for most of the decade. A former WEC and IFC Welterweight Champion, Nick has fought all over the world and for almost every major organization including UFC, PRIDE, and EliteXC. The 19-7-1 fi ghter made it look easy in a TKO win against Frank Shamrock in April.
Brother Nate has followed in his brother’s footsteps, amassing a 10-3 mark in his near- 5 years in the cage. Also a Strikeforce and WEC vet, Nate won the fi fth season of TUF and launched what has been a successful UFC career, going 5-1 in his young Octagon career – the last two bouts earning Fight of the Night honors. Nate turns 24 in April and has a very bright future in the sport.
THE HUGHES BROS.
Just a couple of farm boys from Illinois, the Hughes twins – Matt and Mark – grew up playing football and wrestling, earning All-American honors in their collegiate careers. From there, Matt (41-7) compiled a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career over the past decade, twice winning the UFC Welterweight title and holding victories over Georges St. Pierre, B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, and Royce Gracie. The 35-year-old is now preparing for who could be his fi nal opponent: long-time rival Matt Serra at May’s UFC 98.
Mark fought at 190 pounds, racking up a 6-1 record that included a two-round decision victory over Alex Stiebling at UFC 28 in November 2000. However, he hasn’t fought since 2003, and despite Matt claiming last May that Mark signed a UFC deal, nothing was ever announced.
THE EVANS BROS.
From the state of New York come the Evans brothers: Rashad and Lance. The 29-year-old “Sugar” got his big break by winning the Heavyweight division of TUF’s second season. He went on to defeat Forrest Griffi n for the Light Heavyweight title at December’s UFC 92, which kept his undefeated record alive. Rashad continues to build on his wrestling background forged on the mats of Michigan State and a season at Niagara County Community College, where he won a National Junior College title.
Brother Lance launched his own MMA career in 2004, but he has just a handful of pro fi ghts. Recently, he got a shot to make it onto season 8 of TUF, but he couldn’t continue after hurting his rib in a qualifying match against eventual fi nalist Vinnie Magalhaes. He has been mainly north of the border in Canada, training in Quebec and fi ghting in Montreal for the TKO promotion.