The Top Five Mixed Martial Arts Families of All Time

5. THE RUAS

(Brothers Mauricio “Shogun” and Murilo “Ninja”)

Impact on MMA:

The Ruas haven’t been around for very long (Mauricio is 25, Murilo is 27). That said, beyond their talent and participation in an influential training camp that has revolutionized the striking game – Brazil’s famed Chute Box Academy – the Ruas really haven’t influenced the sport all that much…yet.

Fighter quality:

Despite his shocking loss to Forrest Griffi n at UFC 76, Mauricio Shogun Rua, should still be considered one of the best 205 pound fighters in the world. He’s an overwhelming stand-up fighter that uses foot stomps, knees, and pinpoint punches to destroy opponents (he has already accumulated 13 career KO/ TKOs). Further, his submission skills are underrated.

Shogun has already defeated current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Ricardo Arona, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira during his young career.

Murilo “Ninja” Rua (14-7-1) is a solid fighter with well-rounded skills that has experienced his share of success. However, he often seems to fall short when he steps in with the big guns, although on June 22, 2007 he finally came through with a TKO victory over Joey Villasenor to become EliteXC’s 185 pound champion.

Length of participation:

These two haven’t been at the top of the MMA game for very long. Mauricio had his first professional MMA fight in September of 2002; Murilo started his career in May of 2000.

Final word:

It is quite likely that someday the name Rua will be even bigger in MMA, as these two brothers haven’t even entered primes yet. For right now though, they will have to settle for number five on the list.

4. THE EMELIANENKOS

(Brothers Fedor and Aleksander)

Impact on MMA:

This part is all about Fedor. He is the straw that stirs the family drink. The long-time PRIDE Heavyweight Champion has widely been considered the best fighter in the world for over four years now. Anyone that good is bound to have influence.

Fedor has also helped revolutionize training methods by proving that weight lifting isn’t necessarily needed in fighting. You see, Fedor doesn’t do any, yet he is still considered one of the strongest men in MMA history.

Beyond this, Fedor looks like an everyday guy and never talks junk. This style has won over huge numbers of fans in his homeland of Russia, as well as throughout Japan and America.

Fighter quality:

Obviously, Fedor (26-1) is as good as they come. He has defeated names like Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), Mark Coleman (twice), and Matt Lindland.

He has the striking skills (ask Cro Cop) and the submissions (he’s taken out thirteen fighters that way). Oh yeah, and then there’s his power.

“Look, I’ve fought many people from around the world, so I’ve seen many strong fighters,” said Renato Babalu Sobral to GracieMag.com. “But like him, never.” Then he went on to add, “He’s got takedown skills, but sometimes (he) just throws you down, using tremendous strength that he just doesn’t look like he’s got.”

Fedor’s brother Aleksander (11-3) is a good, young fighter. He has succeeded in defeating solid opponents like Assuerio Silva and Sergei Kharitonov. However, he has also lost to the two best fighters he’s faced: Josh Barnett and Cro Cop.

That said, his career is still in its infancy. There is likely much more to come.

Length of participation:

Fedor has been in the sport since August of 2000 and has been dominating it since 2003. Aleksander has only been fighting professionally since October of 2003.

Final word:

The fact that Fedor’s brother is good ends up being icing on the cake.

 

3. THE NOGUEIRAS

Twins Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira)

Impact on MMA:

These guys are highly respected fighters that don’t talk a lot of junk. They are liked virtually everywhere they go, which has helped to bring in fans.

Their first camp, Brazilian Top Team with Mario Sperry, is one of the most innovative in the world when it comes to the ground game. Though the Nogueiras and BTT have parted ways, the skills the brothers picked up have stood them in good stead in MMA competition.

The Nogueiras also cross train with the Cuban National Boxing Team, bringing their striking ability to a new level.

Fighter quality:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (30-4-1) is widely considered the best heavyweight submission fighter in MMA. His toughness is near legendary. The former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion has defeated Mirko Cro Cop, Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman, and Bob Sapp (350 pounds).

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (12-3) is also an outstanding fighter that is cut from the same cloth as his brother (remember, they are twins), although a major title has eluded him. He is the kind of fighter that has a chance to beat anybody at 205 pounds.

Length of participation:

Rogerio has been fighting in MMA since August of 2001; Rodrigo since June of 1999.

Final word:

Rodrigo’s legendary fights against Sapp and Barnett, plus their longer history in the sport, put them ahead of the Emelianenkos.

 

2. SHAMROCKS

(Adoptive brothers Ken and Frank)

Impact on MMA:

Ken Shamrock has been on the scene since UFC 1 (November 12, 1993). On that day, Ken left an overconfi dent striker by the name of Pat Smith screaming in pain with a heel hook on the ground. Thus, he helped usher in the truth (that submission and ground fighting were king).

Later in Ken’s career, he helped the sport grow. As Ray Hui, editor of MMAFighting.com said, “Ken Shamrock gave MMA the larger-than-life superstar presence needed to market the sport. He was a fighter who understood how to bring the story element into a fight.”

Ken also headed one of the first high level camps (the Lion’s Den), which set the standard for how MMA fighters would train in the future.

Frank Shamrock was perhaps the most dominant UFC Champion of all time, short of Matt Hughes. He is a freakishly talented athlete that left the sport early due to a lack of money and worthy adversaries (he recently made a victorious comeback against Phil

Baroni). Frank was also one of the first high profile players to bring in an elite fighter from a different discipline to work with in his training (kickboxer Maurice Smith).

MMA owes much of what it is to these two.

Fighter quality:

Ken (26-12-2) isn’t what he once was (he’s lost six of his last seven). That said, in his prime he was an outstanding fighter with excellent power and submissions. Remember, this is a guy that defeated Dan Severn, Bas Rutten (twice), and Maurice Smith.

In his prime, Frank Shamrock (22-8-1) was one of the best ever. He has defeated fighters like Tito Ortiz, Jeremy Horn, Bas Rutten, and Phil Baroni during his career. Frank has always demonstrated outstanding submission skills, underrated striking, and ridiculous cardio endurance.

Length of participation:

All the way back to UFC 1.

Final word:

As far as MMA families go, the Shamrocks are an obvious number two.

 

1. THE GRACIES

(Damn near all of them)

Impact on MMA:

About fourteen years ago, a 170 pound Royce Gracie, armed with a martial art that his father had in essence invented, won three of the first four UFC Championship tournaments (no rounds, no weight classes).

Thus, a legend was born.

“He (Royce) changed the way the general public viewed martial arts. It was no longer about how muscular a person looked or how dangerous traditional martial arts hypothetically were. Royce, with his slender physique, used his family’s technique to force his more imposing opponents into submission,” says Hui.

However, the Gracie family as a whole was completely dominant for years in MMA. In that way, they are about so much more than Helio (the inventor of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) and Royce.

Fighter quality:

Today several Gracies are still good mixed martial arts fighters, though none are currently top flight contenders. That said, Royce was once considered the best MMA fighter in the world. Rickson was always considered the best fi ghter by the family (undefeated at 11-0), Renzo is one heckuva fighter himself, and then there’s Ralph, Ryan, Rodrigo. . .

And that’s not even counting the Machados (five Gracie cousins that learned BJJ from one of the originals, Carlos Gracie himself) who then taught It to the next generation.

Bottom line is, that when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, the Gracies are it.

Length of participation:

Royce was the winner of UFC 1, and

his father was beating boxers like Antonio

Portugal back in 1932.

Final word:

There is no other choice. The name

Gracie will live on in MMA forever

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