Natal, Brazil is home to several prominent mixed martial artists, including UFC bantamweight champion Renan “Barao” Pegado. It is also home to terrifying murders, as for the second time in two days, a mixed martial artist has died from gunshots.
On February 10th, Kimura Nova Uniao fighter Luiz de Franca was shot inside the Alta Performance gym he regularly taught at, allegedly by a police lieutenant and former student, who had been expelled for being too violent in training. According to current and former training partners, de Franca was a good person, with Ronny Markes saying,
“It was a cowardly act. Really sad to see a guy full of life, that always helped everybody, die like that. I want justice”
Wanderlei Silva, who helped train de Franca in 2012, added,
“I’m really sad. Luiz de Franca, who trained with us in Las Vegas for almost a year, was brutally murdered this Monday morning in Natal. He was only 25 and never got himself in trouble. He was a good kid”
On February 11th, Pitbull Brothers fighter Guilherme “Kioto” Matos Rodrigues was shot while inside a juice shop by two men on a motorcycle, and later died on the operating table. One of Rodrigues’ teammates, and half of the eponymous Pitbull Brothers, Patricio Freire had similarly positive things to say about Guilherme.
“I can’t imagine why someone would do that to him. He was a handsome guy, everybody knew who he was, so maybe someone was jealous of him.
He trains with me for 12 years, and I never saw him getting trouble with anyone.
Guilherme was in the best time of his life now. He just majored in Physical Education and kept fighting. Everything he did was work and train. I have no idea who would do a brutality like that to him.”
I’m wondering if this outburst of terrible violence will force the UFC to reconsider Natal as a potential venue for events. It is currently scheduled to host the Fight Night 38 card, which features a rematch between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson. I don’t know if it’s too late to change locations, but if people, not just fighters, continue to get gunned down, I wouldn’t be surprised if Natal stays off the hosting list until people stop getting shot. Also, maybe Brazil needs to cut down on the “UH, VAI MORRER!”* chants if people keep taking them literal.
* – While it sounds like “Whoomp, There It is!”, “Uh, Vai Morrer” is actually Portuguese for “You’re gonna die” and is directed at every non-Brazilian fighter (And non-local fighters, sometimes, too)