On January 15, 2024, Monday evening, the retired 44-year-old MMA fighter and trainer Diego Braga was brutally murdered in Rio de Janeiro by a drug gang when he tried to recover his stolen motorcycle. Diego Braga made his debut in mixed martial arts in October 2003. He was a Pro-MMA fighter who fought in 32 bouts throughout his 16-year grappling career, competing against top athletes Charles Oliveira, Adriano Martins, and Milton Vieira. He retired in 2014 and started to coach young, underprivileged athletes in favelas. Braga has also trained his son Gabriel Braga, a talented MMA fighter who won the title of PFL featherweight fighter in 2023. He confirmed the news of his father’s death on Instagram:
“I have no words to describe the most incredible father and friend in the world that I had,
You will always be in my heart, and I will continue to honour you until the end, with eternal gratitude for everything. One day, I will hug you again; take care of me as you always did. I love you.”
On Sunday at 3:00 am, Braga’s motorcycle was stolen from his garage. On Monday morning, he uploaded footage of his garage on Instagram that two thieves had stolen his bike on Sunday night. Braga went alone into a slum in the western neighbourhood of Itanhangá, Morro do Banco in Rio de Janeiro, looking for his vehicle. He found his bike there, but as he tried to recover it, he was caught by a drug gang, Camando Vermelho, led by Pedro Paulo Guedes. The gang mistook him for a paramilitary soldier who fights drug trafficking, and one member of this gang, Tauã da Silva, allegedly killed Braga. After the murder, Silva ran away to escape from the police, but the Capital Homicide Police arrested him on Tuesday, and they also recovered Braga’s motorcycle. Silva confronted his crime.
Another UFC fighter, Anderson Silva, paid tribute to Braga with an Instagram post:
“A hard-working guy who, like many others, chases his dreams, bought his motorcycle with his effort, which was stolen, and had his rights violated. While those who have the power to change or normalise violence act as if they could do nothing, for them, it's just another statistic. But this same violence that you fought so hard ended up taking your life, leaving a huge void in our hearts. You have left an indelible mark on our lives, inspiring us to be better at fighting for a future in which violence does not dictate our destiny. Diego, my brother, your memory will forever be a beacon for all who remain. See you one day, brother.”
The Brazilian MMA Federation also grieved the death of Diego Braga with a post on their social media.
“You will always be remembered whenever we raise our Brazilian flag, master. May god bless the Braga family. Our deepest condolences. Rest in peace, maestro."
Photo Credit: @diegobraga13