Ricardo Arona “The Brazilian Tiger” – MMA Legend

Ricardo Arona “The Brazilian Tiger” – MMA Legend

1. Ricardo Arona’s Details

Full Name Ricardo Arona
Pro MMA Record 14-5-0 (Win-Loss-Draw)
Nickname Brazilian Tiger
Date of Birth 07/17/1978
Age 45
Height 5’10”
Weight 91 kg ( 200lbs)
Born Niteroi, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Last Fight Sep 12, 2009, at Bitetti Combat 4 (BC)
Weight Division Light Heavyweight
Career Disclosed Earning NA
Fought out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Foundation Style MMA
Lineage Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Ricardo Liborio > Ricardo Arona
Team Association Brazilian Top Team
Rank 4th Degree in Black Belt
Favorite Position/Technique Double Leg Takedown / Baiana

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2. Ricardo Arona’s Biography

Ricardo Arona is a retired Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter with a black belt in BJJ given to him by Ricardo Liborio. He is a submission wrestling No-Gi legend with a successful career in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.

In his mixed martial arts career, he competed in RINGS and PRIDE Fighting Championships and was a member of the Brazilian Top Team from 2000 to 2009.

In wrestling, Ricardo has a 13–0 record without ever losing a single point in a competition.

He is a former Rings Middleweight Champion, the winner of the 2001 Ring Middleweight Championship Tournament, and the runner-up of the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix.

In the now-defunct Pride FC promotion, Ricardo competed against some of the best fighters of his time, including Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emilianenko, Murilo Rua, and many others.

Ricardo Arona is a four-time ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Champion and was recognized in the ADCC Hall of Fame at its inaugural class as a result of his accomplishments.

2.1. Ricardo Arona’s Early Life and Amateur Fighting

Ricardo Arona was born in Niteroi, Brazil, on July 17, 1978.

In 1991 at the age of 13, Arona witnessed a Vale Tudo (No Holds Barred) competition which inspired him to get into BJJ. Although he had trained in karate and was doing judo at that time, he abandoned it right away to pursue Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu .

2.2. Ricardo Arona’s Pro BJJ Career

His first experience with BJJ was not very pleasant. Ricardo disliked the trainer, and after two months, he switched academies in search of a more suitable gym.

After two years when he was proudly wearing a blue belt, Ricardo switched teams again and moved to Master Lelio's place.

Arona, at the age of 15, began his training in a basic classroom at Lelio's garage with an all-adult class. Lelio was a big fan of wrestling and No-Gi, something they included in their training in addition to MMA.

In 1994, while training at Lelio’s academy, Ricardo became the Brazilian National Champion and obtained his purple belt as a result of his victory.

Master Lelio was well aware of Arona's immense potential at the time and he knew his student wouldn't be able to progress in his small academy. So Lelio recommended Arona continue his training elsewhere. The first place he went was to Nova Unio. Unfortunately, Arona did not feel welcome there, so he transferred to the Carlson Gracie Academy where he went on to win various titles in submission wrestling.

Winning the Brazilian Nationals

In 1994, while training at Lelio’s academy, Ricardo became the Brazilian National Champion and obtained his purple belt as a result of his victory.

Master Lelio was well aware of Arona's immense potential at the time and he knew his student wouldn't be able to progress in his small academy. So Lelio recommended Arona continue his training elsewhere.  The first place he went was to Nova Uniao. Unfortunately, Arona did not feel welcome there, so he transferred to the Carlson Gracie Academy where he went on to win various titles in submission wrestling.

Winning the State and World Championships

He won the state championship and the Mundial (world championship) that year, earning his brown belt the following year. He went on to win the Rio de Janeiro State Championship, the Mundial (again), and the Brazilian Nationals in his weight class and finished second in the absolute classification.

Winning ADCC Trials

He also won the Brazilian ADCC Trials that year (the biggest submission wrestling championship in the world). Ricardo then won the ADCC finals soon after, which earned him worldwide recognition. He obtained his black belt from Ricardo Liborio (while still on the podium) after winning the championship in Abu Dhabi.

2.3. Shift from BJJ to MMA

Shortly after this great triumph, MMA promoters began dropping contracts on his lap to go and fight in MMA, which was Ricardo Arona's original dream.

Despite having difficulty putting on a gi and training, because submission wrestling and MMA had always been his major focus, Ricardo went on to compete in the World Championship while only having trained with the gi for 12 days before the event. In his weightclass, he came in second and won the silver medal.

After a few years, Ricardo claimed that BJJ had become a passion for him and that if it had been financially viable, he would have pursued a career in the gi.

Ricardo Arona's condition has never been questioned as he has always shown up for his fights in top shape. He spent a lot of time thinking about how he could enhance his strength and improve his condition. Ricardo claims that he loves to train with nature and has designed a set of exercises that includes walking against the tide of the sea to develop balance, jogging up hills on a beach to build stamina, and performing extreme maneuvers while surfing in the beach to test his adrenaline levels.

Arona kept on competing in Pride FC, one of the most prominent organizations in the world (now defunct) several times before taking a break.

2.4. Career in Mixed Martial Arts

In his MMA career, Arona fought in RINGS before joining Pride FC, winning the belt in one of the most famous organizations at the turn of the century.

Fighting Network Rings

Ricardo Arona joined the Fighting Network RINGS, a Japanese MMA promotion, shortly after leaving ADCC. He made his MMA debut by fighting against veteran Sambo Champion Andrei Kopylov and winning the match after dominating the champ for the majority of the fight.

He subsequently won the next match against Jeremy Horn and went on to compete in the King of Kings Tournament. But he was knocked out in the first round by Fedor Emelianenko, resulting in his first official loss.

Fedor was given the win for attempting more submissions during the match due to the RINGS' ruleset rewarded aggression over positional control.

Ricardo’s next match was against a professional wrestler, Hiromitsu Kanehara, to who he pinned with a kneebar in the second round.

Following that, Arona competed in a tournament for the RINGS Middleweight Championship where he defeated Jeremy Horn by unanimous decision in the first round. His last opponent was Gustavo Machado, who he defeated with kicks and punches to win the tournament and the title.

Pride Fighting Championships

Ricardo was offered a contract with PRIDE Fighting Championships after being discovered in the RINGS.

He made a good start thereby defeating Mezger in the first match, but it was considered a controversial triumph. Mezger was able to stop Arona's takedowns and forced him to defend. However, Ricardo came back in the second round, putting Mezger down and performing ground and pound until the third round. Finally, Arona won by a split decision which was debated by different judges , including the match commentators.

In the next match, Ricardo fought against Dan Henderson, another highly regarded opponent, and won by a split decision.

Then at PRIDE 23, Arona faced Murilo Rua of the Chute Boxe team which was in a rivalry with the Brazilian Top Team. The two fighters engaged in a series of clinch battles with Arona putting the pressure on his opponent throughout the match and winning by a unanimous decision in the end.

Arona's first loss in PRIDE came in his fourth fight when he was knocked out by Quinton Jackson in a sensational manner.

Arona returned to PRIDE four months later and defeated Sambo Champion Sergey Ignatov.

On April 23, 2005, Ricardo Arona competed in PRIDE's Middleweight (205 lbs) Grand Prix where he won his first fight in the competition by unanimous decision against Dean Lister and dominated the ADCC contender in a slow grappling match.

Arona then defeated Japanese fighter Kazushi Sakuraba through a corner stoppage in the second round of the Grand Prix.

On August 28, 2005, Ricardo faced Wanderlei Silva in the semi-finals of the Grand Prix. Arona stunned everyone by defeating Silva, the PRIDE Middleweight Champion at the time and handing Silva his first PRIDE middleweight loss.

Ricardo went and competed against emerging MMA fighter Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, brother of Murilo Rua and Chute Boxe integrant. Ricardo was knocked out by Rua in the finals via hammer fists to the face after a missed stomp.

Ricardo fought Wanderlei Silva for the second time on December 31, 2005, this time for the Middleweight Championship where Arona was defeated in a closely contested split decision.

Arona then faced Alistair Overeem on September 10, 2006. After fending off Overeem's initial attacks, Ricardo knocked him to the ground and managed to stay on top of him throughout the fight. He kept attacking Overeem until he was knocked down by a flurry of strikes.

Ricardo was suffering from dengue hemorrhagic fever before fighting with Sokoudjou at PRIDE 34 on April 8, 2007. Ricardo was put to sleep in just two minutes due to the effects of the fever.

Post Pride Journey

After losing to Sokoudjou, Ricardo Arona was planning to come back against Marvin Eastman, but the match was canceled due to Eastman sustained a training injury.

The match was rescheduled and was held on September 12, 2009, at Bitetti Combat MMA 4 where Ricardo achieved a victory via unanimous decision.

Ricardo Arona’s UFC Debut

Arona announced that he will make his debut at UFC in 2010 after talking with UFC President Dana White.

Ricardo considered UFC as the ultimate goal and was confident to state that UFC rules were specifically made for him. According to Ricardo,

"In the UFC, you can use the cage, which is perfect for me, because once you have your opponent in the corner, there’s no escape.”

However, Ricardo could not achieve this goal due to his poor health and bad performance in the fight against Sokoudjou.

Contract with Bellator MMA

Ricardo Arona was offered a contract with Bellator MMA in June 2014, to which he declined saying that he wanted to be 100% healthy physically before returning to MMA fights.

ADCC added Ricardo Arona to the Hall of Fame

In December 2021, ADCC added the four-time ADCC Champion Ricardo Arona to the Hall of Fame, making him the 4th grappler on the list after Roger Gracie, Andre Galvao, and Marcelo Garcia.

His remarkable undefeated ADCC record of 13-0 earned him distinction over many notable grapplers.

Ricardo also won the absolute division once, 99 kg division twice, and a super fight against Mark Kerr.

Ricardo Arona’s Injury

In 2009, while fighting at the Bitetti Combat against Marvin Eastman, Ricardo suffered an ACL injury in the first round and fought the next two rounds while being injured.

After that, Ricardo took some time off to heal. When he decided to fight again, he started training with his friend Paulo Filho and accidentally injured his other knee during the training. Ricardo announced that he will go for knee surgery at the end of that year.

Ricardo's goal was to appear in UFC in 2010 but this would not happen due to his bad health. According to Ricardo,

“UFC is the goal of every fighter, and that’s my goal. I don’t know if I’ll need one or two more fights to get there, but I’m not worried.”

When asked in an interview about when he will appear in fights again, Ricardo replied,

“I believe my recovery will take a year and I should be able at least to decide what’s next at the end of 2014. I expect to be ready to fight in one year after the surgery, but if it takes more than a year I’m okay with that too. No rush. I need to get ready to return at 100 percent and that’s what matters.”

2.5. Ricardo Arona’s Retirement

Ricardo Arona retired from professional fighting for good when he severely injured his knee in a regional promotion after the PRIDE. His attempted comeback in 2014 in Bellator did not work out , marking the end of his MMA career.

2.6. Ricardo Arona’s Historic Fights

Ricardo Arona Vs Quinton Rampage Jackson

Ricardo fought against Quinton Jackson on June 20, 2004, at Pride FC. This was a historic match that resulted in Arona's first loss in PRIDE.

For the first time since his promotion, Arona was outsized as he saw Jackson powering out of his holds. Arona chose to stay on guard to limit the damage. He tried to knock Jackson out with an up-kick, but when that didn't work, he followed up with triangle choke which Jackson countered with a powerbomb.

The slam knocked Ricardo out, prompting the referee to stop the match and declare Jackson the victor.

Ricardo protested after the fight, claiming that he received an illegal head-butt from Jackson at the end of the slam. Although footage of the fight appeared to verify this, it was never officially acknowledged or examined.

In 2005, Ricardo made a historic win against Wanderlei Silva, the Pride Middleweight Champion at that time. The match took place on August 28 at the PRIDE FC semi-finals.

Despite Silva's fearful striking, Arona took him down with an early leg kick and worked on a lengthy ground and pound, taking him down every time the fight45 rose to continue the punishment, which lasted until the final minute.

At last, Ricardo shocked the world by defeating Silva via decision and handing Silva his first PRIDE middleweight loss.

Ricardo Arona Vs Kazushi Sakuraba

Ricardo achieved another historic win on June 26, 2005, by defeating Kazushi Sakuraba through corner stoppage in the second round of the Grand Prix.

It was a controversial victory. Despite Sakuraba's attempts to lay Arona on his back and use his characteristic jumping stomps, Arona quickly overwhelmed him, landing a succession of vicious knees to the head and strong soccer kicks to the face.

Ricardo capitalized on pressing the gash and burying his finger into it to force the stoppage when his toenail accidentally slit opened the skin over Sakuraba's left eye.

Kazuki attempted to continue, but Arona landed another volley of head-knees and concluded the fight by landing repeated soccer kicks.

2.7. Ricardo Arona’s Championships and Accomplishments


  • PRIDE Fighting Championships
  • Fighting Network RINGS
  • RINGS Middleweight Championship

Grappling / Submission

  • CBJJ Brazilian Championship
  • CBJJ World Championships
  • ADCC World Submission Wrestling Championship

3. Ricardo Arona’s Main Achievements

Position Event Year
1st Place ADCC World Submission Wrestling Championship 2000
1sT Place ADCC World Submission Wrestling Championship 2001
Winner Rings Middleweight Championship Tournament 2001
Winner Superlight Championship 2003
Runner-Up Pride Grand Prix 2005

4. Ricardo Arona’s Main Achievements (Belts)

Coloured Belts
Position Belt Events Years
1st Place CBJJ World Championship Purple 1998
1st Place CBJJ World Championship Brown 1999
2nd Place CBJJ World Championship CBJJ World Championship (Open Weight) Brown 1999
1st Place CBJJ Brazilian Championship Brown 1999
2nd Place CBJJ World Championship Black 2000

5. Ricardo Arona’s Professional Record Breakdown

19 Matches 14 Wins  5 Losses
By Submission 2 0
By Decision 9 2
By Knockout 3 3

Submission Methods W/L
Methods 2 Wins  0 Loss
Kneebar 1 0
RNC 1 0

Submission Grappling Record (Undefeated 13-0)
Record Event Opponent W/L/D Method Weight Division Year
1–0 ADCC World Championship Hiromitsu Kanehara W Points 99 kg 2000
2–0 ADCC World Championship Kareem Barkalev W Points 99 kg 2000
3–0 ADCC World Championship Tito Ortiz W Points 99 kg 2000
4–0 ADCC World Championship Jeff Monson W Points 99 kg 2000
5–0 ADCC World Championship Ruslan Mashurenko W Points 99 kg 2001
6–0 ADCC World Championship Renato Sobral W Points 99 kg 2001
7–0 ADCC World Championship Jon Olav Einemo W Points 99 kg 2001
8–0 ADCC World Championship Ricardo Almeida W Points 99 kg 2001
9–0 ADCC World Championship Roger Neff W Submission Absolute 2001
10–0 ADCC World Championship Saulo Ribeiro W Points Absolute 2001
11–0 ADCC World Championship Vitor Belfort W Points Absolute 2001
12–0 ADCC World Championship Jacques Machado W Points Absolute 2001
13–0 ADCC World Championship Mark Kerr W Points Superfight 2003

6. Ricardo Arona’s Match History

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
2009 Bitetti Combat MMA 4 Marvin Eastman W Decision (unanimous) R3 Light Heavyweight
2007 Pride 34 Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou L KO (Punches) R1 Middleweight
2006 Pride FC Alistair Overeem W TKO (Submission to Punches) R1 Middleweight
2005 Pride FC - Shockwave 2005 Mauricio Rua L Decision (Split) R3 Middleweight
2005 Pride FC - Final Conflict 2005 Mauricio Rua L KO (Punches) R1 Middleweight
2005 Pride FC - Final Conflict 2005 Wanderlei Silva W Decision (Unanimous) R2 Middleweight
2005 Pride FC - Critical Countdown 2005 Kazushi Sakuraba W TKO (Corner Stoppage) R2 Middleweight
2005 Pride FC - Total Elimination 2005 Dean Lister W Decision (Unanimous) R3 Middleweight
2004 Pride 28 - High Octane Sergey Ignatiev W Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) R1 Middleweight
2004 Pride FC - Critical Countdown 2004 Quinton Jackson L KO (Slam) R1 Middleweight
2002 Pride 23 - Championship Chaos 2 Murilo Rua W Decision (Unanimous) R3 Middleweight
2002 Pride 20 - Armed and Ready Dan Henderson W Decision (Split) R3 Middleweight
2001 Pride 16 - Beasts From The East Guy Mezger W Decision (Split) R3 Middleweight
2001 Rings - 10th Anniversary Gustavo Machado W TKO (Punches) R1 Middleweight
2001 Rings - 10th Anniversary Jeremy Horn W Decision (Majority) R2 Middleweight
2001 Rings - World Title Series 2 Hiromitsu Kanehara W Submission (Kneebar) R2 Middleweight
2000 Rings - King of Kings 2000 Block B Fedor Emelianenko L Decision (Unanimous) R3 Middleweight
2000 Rings - Millennium Combine 3 Jeremy Horn W Decision (Split) R2 Middleweight
2000 Rings - Millennium Combine 1 Andrei Kopylov W Decision (Unanimous) R2 Middleweight

7. Ricardo Arona’s Top Fight Links

Photo Credit: @r_arona

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