Later this month, the sport’s leader will kick-off its pay-per-view schedule for 2023 by crossing the continental border to South America, where Brazil’s MMA enthusiasts will pack Rio de Janeiro’s Jeunesse Arena for a blockbuster event on January 21.
As well as two title fights at the top of the card, which will feature a pair of Brazilian fighters in reigning flyweight king Deveison Figueiredo and former light heavyweight titleholder Glover Teixeira, fan favorite Burns will also be in action.
Having seen a desired clash with Jorge Masvidal not come to fruition, “Durinho” will make the walk in front of his home fans to face divisional veteran Neil Magny.
As well as an opportunity to rebound following a defeat in his sole 2022 outing, Burns is excited to see the Octagon back on Brazilian soil, a location the UFC hasn’t visited since a fan-less card in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to cause havoc globally.
With that in mind, 2019 marks the last year in which the nation’s fans were able to witness UFC action in the flesh. Coupled with the decline of some of the nation’s greatest MMA legends, that’s perhaps stalled the sport’s growth there in recent years.
But Burns believes that one man has played a huge part in rectifying that.
Burns Praises Recent Champion For Promoting MMA In Brazil
During a recent interview with Michael Bisping and Anthony Smith on the Believe You Me podcast, Gilbert Burns looked ahead to the promotion’s upcoming long-awaited return to Brazil.
While the one-time welterweight title challenger noted that MMA remains one of the leading sports in his nation, he admitted that its growth was stalled owing to the departure of stars like Anderson Silva.
However, he believes that a pair of recent reigns brought MMA back on an upwards trajectory in the country, namely that of Charles Oliveira.
“It’s a main sport, especially right now that we lost the World Cup. (But) soccer, football, is on a different level,” Burns said. “But now, with the UFC back in Brazil, wow, it’s gonna be crazy. A lot more pressure on us fighters because we lost the World Cup and Charles lost the belt.
“But I think Charles was the one that helped so much to grow it back, because we got Anderson and we got all those fighters, but then we kind of lost a little fighters. Then we got Amanda (Nunes); not that big in Brazil. Figueiredo is not that big. Then we got Glover that kind of put a little fire. Then we got Oliveira that put a lot of fire in Brazil.”
In terms of rejuvenated careers, not many have come close to the feat achieved by Oliveira. “Do Bronx” turned around a largely inconsistent UFC record with an 11-fight win streak that included a championship crowning opposite Michael Chandler and subsequent victories over Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.
While his winning run was ultimately ended at the hands of Islam Makhachev last October at UFC 280, Oliveira’s reign and memorable streak appeared to attract the attention of all corners in Brazil, something that was evident with the hero’s welcome he received upon returning with the gold in 2021.
Where does Charles Oliveira rank among Brazil’s greatest MMA exports?
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