Lucas Martins (pic: sherdog)

BRAVE 11: Lucas Martins Wins Gold to Cap One of the Best Brazilian MMA Cards of 2018

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil – Diehard fight fans scratched their heads when talented Brazilian featherweight Lucas Martins (20-3) was dismissed from the UFC following his entertaining decision win over Robert Whiteford at UFC Zagreb in 2016. With this impressive five round performance over top Brazilian regional talent Luan Santiago (12-3) in the main event of BRAVE 11, Martins picked up his fourth straight impressive victory on the regional scene and reminded fans that he’s still an ascending talent at 145 pounds. To his credit, the southpaw Santiago wasn’t fazed by his name foe, as he confidently stepped forward and pressed his athletic advantages early. Santiago found the mark with the first handful of straight lefts that he threw in this scheduled five-rounder, and it looked like the 29 year old Martins might be in for a long night until the 23 year old Santiago got too cocky and left himself exposed for a huge counter right. Santiago hit the deck but survived Martins’ attempt to finish the fight, and when the pair returned to standing it looked the early speed gap was diminished. Martins further slowed his younger foe with slashing leg kicks that played a big role as the fight wore on, though he still had some trouble getting his face out of the way of Santiago’s left hand in round 2.

The tenor of the fight changed in round 3, as Martins picked up his pace while Santiago faded and could no longer find the mark with his punches. Now in control, Martins switched gears and surprised his foe with a takedown to start round 4. A failed D’Arce choke allowed the younger man to pop back to his feet, only for the same takedown/failed D’Arce sequence to play out a second time. Round 5 was even better for Martins, who briefly off-balanced Santiago with a solid left hand and seemed to be cruising toward a decision win as the final moments ticked down. That decision turned into a conclusive finish when Martins looked to seal the fight with a slam, but ended up earning a TKO when Santiago foolishly stuck his arm out and suffered a nasty break. Painful finish for Luan Santiago, who showed off strong skills in his first shot at world class competition but didn’t have the gameplan to take out the skilled and heady vet. Meanwhile, Lucas Martins picked up his fifth straight victory and picked up the BRAVE interim lightweight belt – up a weight class from his normal 145 pounds no less. Impressive stuff for the 29 year old Martins, who held a winning 4-3 record inside the Octagon and remains one of the top 145 pounders on the planet.

BRAVE 11 Fight 10 – Light Heavyweight Title:
Klidson de Abreu Farias (12-2, champ)   Sub1-RNC   Matt Baker (14-10)

Defending BRAVE 205 pound champ Klidson de Abreu Farias looked like an absolute beast on this evening as he splattered late replacement Matt Baker in his first title defense. Baker found his face mashed into the canvas within seconds courtesy of wicked GNP strikes, and the Canuck was on the defensive as long as he was in the fight. Baker gamely absorbed a nasty knee to the face and fought off a couple of armbar tries, but he had no answer but submission when de Abreu grabbed onto a no-hooks standing RNC. De Abreu gets to go home with the big shiny silver belt, and the Brazilian prospect should find himself nearing the top 50 in the world light heavyweight rankings when Fightmatrix releases their next update on Sunday.

BRAVE 11 Fight 9 – Lightweight:
Erivan Pereira (12-1)   TKO2   Gesias Cavalcante (21-12-1)

It’s hard to believe that 34 year old Rio de Janeiro native Gesias Cavalcante made his first apperance on Brazilian soil in his 34th professional fight at BRAVE 11. It took some time for either man to engage, which earned a warning from the ref, but when the action commenced Cavalcante put on a classic round 1 performance with an early takedown and ground-and-pound. Although Cavalcante advanced to mount, he was unable to finish the fight before the round 1 bell. That proved to be costly when Pereira plastered JZ with a right hand that sent him careening to the canvas early in the second. Pereira followed up with donkey kong hammerfists that earned the lanky regional champ a huge TKO win over the former world #1! Huge win for the youngser.

BRAVE 11 Fight 8 – Flyweight:
Bruno Malfacine (2-0)   Sub1-Armbar   Rafael Pereira (5-3)

Nine-time BJJ world champion Bruno Malfacine showed off a strong all-around game as he dazed Rafael Pereira with punches early in their featured flyweight clash. Under the supportive eye of revered ATT coach Ricardo Liborio, Malfacine claimed back mount and pounded away with strikes until he snatched Pereira’s arm and took it home for the round one sub. Fantastic stuff from 31 year old Bruno Malfacine, who has all the makings of a future star at flyweight and who announced that he’s looking to become the best 125er in the world.

BRAVE 11 Fight 7 – Lightweight:
Cleiton Silva (13-2)   TKO2   Ahmed Amir (8-2)

Egypt’s Ahmed Amir ran through his first three entry-level international foes in the Brave CF cage, but he encountered rough sledding as he stepped up in level versus lanky XFCI champ Cleiton Silva. It only took seconds for Silva to bust Amir open with a shot to the bridge of the nose. Once the doctor ruled Amir fit to continue, the Brazilian took “The Butcher” down and landed a few solid ground strikes before summoning his man back to the feet. That was merely a ploy for Soares to throw his man back down with a judo toss, and the Brazilian took a clear and bloody 10-9 in round one. The second frame was more of the same, with Silva beating down Amir on the ground and on the feet until the ref mercifully waved off the bout due to the preponderous of blood flowing into the Egyptian’s eyes. Great win for 32 year old Cleiton Silva, who rebounded nicely from a loss to Jungle Fight champ Erick Barbosa in his previous outing.

BRAVE 11 Fight 6 – Bantamweight:
Carlos Soares (9-1)   UD3   Georges Bardawil (6-2)

Jungle Fight regular Carlos Soares enjoyed a noticeable size edge over Lebanon’s Georges Bardawil, and he used that advantage to maintain position during a low-action round 1. Both men opened up on offense in the second frame, but before either could land a big shot Soares found the takedown and dominated his man with positional control and ground strikes. Bardawil was game in the third as he tried hard for a fight-changing shot and seemed to have his foe rattled near the end. But he just couldn’t keep Soares off of him for long enough to score the killshot, and when the fight made it to the scorecards the Brazilian Carlos Soares was awarded the well-deserved unanimous decision 29-28, 29-27, 29-27.

BRAVE 11 Fight 5 – Middleweight:
Bruno Assis (8-2)   Sub1-Armbar   Douglas Carvalho (3-4-1)

Following a 39 month hiatus from competition, Douglas “Mahal” Carvalho returned to the cage on three days’ notice against Bruno Assis. Unfortunately Carvalho had very little to offer, as the favorite muscled him to the mat and latched on to a readily available armbar for the finish in just under 2 minutes.

BRAVE 11 Fight 4 – Flyweight:
Marcel Adur (14-4)   TKO2   Fernando Lourenco (6-3)

Talented Santa Catarina native Marcel Adur picked up a third straight win in style against game striker Fernando Lourenco. Adur showed off a very sturdy base and quick hands that rapidly broke down his outgunned foe. Early in round 2 Adur finished things off with a nice knee to the body and conclusive ground strikes that earned him a third quality win inside the Brave CF cage and should secure his position within the world top 50 rankings at flyweight.

BRAVE 11 Fight 3 – Welterweight:
Rodrigo Cavalheiro (22-7)   KO1-Elbows   Alessandro Gambulino (8-2)

This was easy money for Bellator, KSW, and Titan FC vet Rodrigo Cavalheiro (22-7), who took a shot or two on the feet but brutalized Alessandro Gambulino (8-2) with Travis Browne elbows in the clinch. Those shots knocked the younger man cold and gave Cavalheiro the first round KO win.

BRAVE 11 Fight 2 – Strawweight:
Luana Pinheiro (6-1)   Sub1-Guillotine Choke   Elaine Leal (5-5)

Luana Pinheiro quickly proved to be far too much for Elaine “Pantera” Leal in this strawweight contest. The ferocious Linheiro forced the bout to the mat immediately where she smashed her foe with ground strikes before securing a lethal guillotine choke for the round one submission. With this win, Pinheiro’s world ranking at 115 should register well within the top 100 – well within the crosshairs of the UFC, Invicta, and other major promotions.

BRAVE 11 Fight 1 – Featherweight:
Arnold Quero (15-6)   UD3   Caio Gregorio (5-3)

The story of this bout was French road warrior Arnold Quero bouncing around looking for the counter as popular local Caio Gregorio plodded forward and tried to overcome a vast speed disadvantage. Quero is usually good for a takedown or two against most opponents, but the Brazilian did a nice job stuffing his grappling efforts and keeping things on the feet. Sometimes fight styles just don’t mix, and that was the case here as neither competitor landed much over the course of 15 minutes, aside from a single big punch from Gregorio that scored a flash knockdown in round 3. That wasn’t enough to sway his hometown judges, as Quero earned a 29-28, 30-27, 27-30 split decision.

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