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Old 07-06-2007, 10:26 AM   #1
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Default Lineal MMA Championship

Who has the best claim as the first champion of MMA, using the Brazilian Vale Tudo matches as a starting point? Is it:

Helio Gracie:

Total record before Kimura: 8-0-7, including:

1934: Drew with Wladek Zbyszko
1934: Defeated Taro Miyake
1951: Drew with Kato
1951: Defeated Kato

Kimura and After:

1951: Defeated by Masahiko Kimura (submissions only match)
1955: Defeated by Valdemar Santana

Valdemar Santana:

1955: Defeated Helio Gracie
1955: Drew with Carlson Gracie (Jiujitsu rules)
1956: Lost to Carlson Gracie
1957: Lost to Carlson Gracie
1959: Drew with Carlson Gracie
1959: Lost to Masahiko Kimura (submission match)
1959: Drew with Masahiko Kimura

Carlson Gracie:

Total record is 18 Vale Tudo fights, with only one loss.

1955: Drew with Santana (Jiujitsu match)
1956: Defeated Santana
1957: Defeated Santana
1959: Drew with Santana

Masahiko Kimura

Before Helio Gracie:

Considered the greatest judoka of all time, won the All Japan (dual winner) in 1949, and many tournaments before the war; purported to have lost only four times in his lifetime.


1955: Defeated Helio Gracie
1959: Defeated Valdemar Santana (submission match)
1959: Drew with Valdemar Santana (Vale Tudo match)

There are a few possibilities here:

First, one could claim that Helio was the champion because he was the first of the four to involve himself in mixed matches, and was considered the "man to beat" by Santana to get the Vale Tudo crown as late as 1955.

On the other hand, Kimura had the best record. He wiped Helio out, and had a win and a draw against Santana when far past his own prime (early 40's). As an added bonus, he was considered the best judoka in history.

BUT...of the four, Valdemar is the first to win his "title" under true Vale Tudo rules, with his nearly four-hour marathon match against Helio Gracie. The previous two fought under some sort of submission rules for most of their significant fights.

Carlson seems the least controversial of the four, since he soundly beat Santana twice and had a more extensive record of Vale Tudo matches than anybody else. Unlike Kimura and arguably Helio, he won his title under Vale Tudo rules. However, since he never faced Kimura it is impossible to know who would have won, even at Kimura's advanced age. Judging from Kimura's results against Santana....
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