The number one is obvious. The king of MMA families is the Gracie family. They were the MMA pioneers. They have developed jiu jitsu. They have countless names out there. So, we will concede far and away the number one spot of “Best MMA Families” to the Gracie clan. However, who else has a solid MMA family?
There are countless families with a pair of brothers fighting. You’ve got the Shamrocks (Ken and Frank), the Nogueira brothers, the Ruas (Shogun and Ninja), the Lauzons (Joe & Dan), the Overeems (Alistair and Valentijin), the Millers (Dan and Jim), the Diaz brothers (Nick and Nate), the Hughes’ (Matt and Mark), the Emelianenkos (Fedor and Aleks), the Serras (Matt and Nick), the Guidas (Clay and Jason), the Evans’ (Rashad and Lance), the Ellenbergers (Joe and Jake), the Healeys (Ryan and Pat), the Brownings (Junie), the Assuncaos (Junior and Rafael), and the Millers (Micah and Cole).
Now we are seeing the emergence of husband and wife fighter combinations such as Evangelista and Cristiane Cyborg Santos, Brandon and Kerry Vera, and Randy and Kim Couture (They are divorcing).
We are seeing a second generation emerge and we may soon see father son combinations such as the emergence of Randy Couture’s son Ryan.
I guess the best way to settle it is a tournament. With sixteen families entered and seeded here is the first round bracket.
1. The Nogueiras vs. 16. The Assuncaos
Easy. Rodrigo and Rogerio are legends of PRIDE. They are really pioneers as well. This is no contest. They are the early favorites.
2. The Emelianenkos vs. 15. The Ellenbergers
No contest. The Emelianenkos are both top 20 heavyweights in the world. Neither Ellenberger is as good as either Emelianenko. By the way, I hear there is a third Emelianenko entering MMA. The Russians win this one brutally and easily. Fedor can carry this duo.
3. The Ruas vs. 14. The Guidas
The Guidas have an exciting style, but they are no match for the muay thai skills of the Ruas. Mauricio and Muirilo move one. Like the Emelianenkos a third brother began an MMA career in 2009…watch out world for Marcos Rua.
4. The Shamrocks vs. 13. The Serras
Could there be a match-up between more obnoxious fighters? This is really no contest. Matt Serra is solid. The Shamrocks are legendary. Shamrocks easily into round 2.
5. The Diazs vs. 12. The Coutures
I am a Randy Coutre fan. He may be one of the best ever, but he does not have a family member to help his case…yet. The Diazs’ are both elite level fighters. They move on past the “Natural” family.
6. The Millers vs. 11. The Evans’
Rashad is a great fighters, but his brother…not so much. Rashad is the best fighter in this group without a doubt, but overall Dan and Jim Miller are better. They may even be underrated here. These guys could both be viewed as top 20 guys in their respective weight classes. The Millers move on past the Evans’ despite Rashad’s skills.
7. The Hughes’ vs. 10. The Overeems
It may be fair to conclude that Mark Hughes and Valentijin Overeem cancel one another out so we see a battle between Alistair Overeem and Matt Hughes. I think if weight and size was no obstacle Matt Hughes has had the better career and has made more impact, therefore Hughes’ move on to round two, but Mark is a liability.
8. The Lauzons vs. 9. The Santos’ (Cristiane & Evangelista)
I think both Joe and Dan are above average fighters who deserve to be in the UFC. Cristiane is the most dominant female fighter in the world and she may be able to take Joe and Dan out on her own. With all things being equal I will pick the Santos’ to upset the Lauzons.
1. Nogueiras vs. 9. Santos’
The Santos’ would like to be the Cinderella family of MMA, but that stops in round 2 when the encounter the Nogueiras. The Nogs move one to round 3 with no trouble again.
2. Emelianenkos vs. 7. Hughes’
If this fight took place today it would be an easy win for the Russian family, however, if you consider the whole of a career it becomes a more competitive match. Fedor is the world’s best now. Hughes was at one time the number one guy. Don’t forget how dominant he was. Love him or hate him Hughes can carry this team. Even if I conceded that the Matt/Fedor match-up cancels out we have to agree that Aleksander has been more successful than Mark Hughes. Because of that the Emelianenkos move on.
3. Ruas vs. 6. The Millers
Shogun is a top tiered elite fighter. Both Miller brothers are in the 15-25 range in their weight classes. I would say that Jim and Dan combined are better than Ninja. but Shogun was at one time the world’s best light heavyweight. He has big wins to his credit. Because of that the Ruas move on to the semi-final round. However, the Millers could rise even more as time goes on.
4. Shamrocks vs. 5. Diazs
Last round I asked if there could be a more obnoxious match. Here is your answer. Nick and Nate are good. Real good, but this is bad for them. The Shamrocks have had too good of careers as both belong in the UFC Hall of Fame. The Shamrock beat the Diazs who do not leave quietly.
1. Nogueiras vs. 4. Shamrocks
What a match this could have been in their respective primes. While Ken and Frank are legends. I still think the weight of how good both Nogueiras are is too much. I think if you match them up Ken vs. Rodrigo and Frank vs. Rogerio both Nogueiras win. That settles it for me. Nogueiras into the finals.
2. Emelianenkos vs. 3. Ruas
The bottom line here is the Ninja becomes a liability in this match up. Fedor is the best. His brother is also great. Shogun could hang with them, but Ninja can’t. Because of that the Emelianenkos move into the finals.
1. Nogueiras vs. 2. Emelianenkos
This match is not just a dream match on paper. Fedor has squared of with Big Nog and beaten him twice. However, lets look at the whole. The Nogueira brothers have a combined 49-8 career record with notable wins over Dan Henderson (2), Alistaie Overeem (2), Kazushi Sakuraba, Vladimir Matyushenko, Heath Herring (3), Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman, Josh Barnett, Fabricio Werdum, Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, and Sergei Kharitonov. That is a who’s who list. Both guys are top 5-10 fighters in their weight classes.
The Emelianenkos hold a 45-4 career record and have notable wins over Rodrigo Nogueira (2), Babalu, Matt Lindland, Ricardo Arona, Mark Coleman (2), Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Crop Cop, Heath Herring and Sergei Kharitinov.
The question has to be have the Emelianenkos fought the level of competition and made the impact that the Nogueira have. I would say…No. Fedor is the best heavyweight and one of the best pound for pound, but his brother has not beaten anyone of note. His 3 losses have come to the most recognizable name she has faced. Fedor has been dominant and even holds wins over Nogueira, but over the course of history the Nogueiras as a team, as a family win this one by decision.