A Brazilian MMA promotion has staged a wheelchair MMA bout between two disabled fighters — and the fight has gone viral.
Held earlier this month at ABCF Fighting 23, the bout saw Geova Rodrigues Botelho and Pedro Costa trade heavy blows for three three-minute rounds. Costa emerged victorious via split decision, and the fight was later shared widely on social media.
Both fighters were thankful to ABCF Fighting for the experience, given the lack of opportunity for disabled MMA fighters to compete. Both Botelho and Costa had been left paralyzed as adults. Botelho was a champion in karate before an accident left him in a wheelchair, while Costa was paralyzed by a gunshot.
“It was an unforgettable fight,” Costa told MMA Fighting. “I’ve been on a wheelchair for 14 years and never thought about fighting,” Costa told MMA Fighting. “I was first approached with this idea in 2016 but I wasn’t training at the time, I wasn’t prepared. I spoke with Muay Thai and boxing coaches now and decided to do it. It’s not easy for us, disabled people, to get into fighting. Geova and I are good friends and we had the guts to do this. I’ll never forget this moment.”
ABCF Fighting founder Marcio Machado says that he was proud to stage what was likely the world’s first professional wheelchair MMA bout to “show the world you can still compete in MMA even if you’re on a wheelchair.” And Machado plans to offer more opportunities to disabled fighters, with another wheelchair fight set to feature in the next ABCF Fighting card on September 7.
“They’ve always wanted to be part of this but never had the opportunity,” Machado told MMA Fighting. “We were bold enough to make it happen and it was a huge success. We’re now looking into helping these athletes to find better training and make this competition even better, so other athletes can do it too. That’s the goal.”
Could we even see wheelchair fights in the UFC? Costa says that he wants to make it happen.
“If there are other challenges available, we’ll do it,” Costa said. “I’ll even send a letter to the UFC because disabled people loved this idea. I know it wasn’t a beautiful fight, but it was the first one.”
You can watch the full fight below: