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Rio Heroes: MMA or street fight?

I’m sure, by now, many of you have heard about or seen ads for Rio Heroes, a fighting organization out of Brazil. The fights feature bare knuckles brawls in a makeshift cage, and according to this report from MMA Insight writer, Andre Fernandes, no tapouts:

The most controversial and hated fighting organization in the world, Rio Heroes, made its 9th event this month in Brazil. Known to be a return to the famous Brazilian Vale Tudo bloody origins, Rio Heroes is a bare knuckle organization with no time limit and almost no rules. Only the “rules of honor” apply — no eye gouging, striking the groin or biting. With no crowd, the events are broadcast live on the Internet through a pay-per-view website which also features cock fighting and bikini girls armed with military weapons. The first editions caused a huge uproar in Brazil due to the lack of rules and the injuries the fighters sustained because they couldn’t tap out. The referee, and mastermind behind it all, BJJ black belt and former Vale Tudo fighter Jorge Pereira (7-4-0), gives instructions to the athletes during the fight encouraging them to destroy and massacre their opponents, even when they are nearly unconscious on the ground. Though they now have a “low budget” cage, the first events were held in gym rooms and fighters often fought up against the walls, breaking windows and brawling through the glass. Another factor that contributed to public disapproval was the fact that fighters came from poverty and frequently stated that they were only fighting for the money. This was true even in the case of a female fighter who then proceeded to beat her male opponent.

While I don’t agree with what kind of “show” Rio Heroes is putting on, they are entitled to do their own thing. Would I like to see tapouts added? Absolutely. Do I have any control over it? No. I’m sure plenty of street fights with less rules than this go on all around the world.

What I have a problem with, however, is how Rio Heroes is being marketed. For awhile, the promotion had huge banner ads on I have not seen one recently, but they were promoting a free internet fight card recently and lots of promos were all over Sherdog’s website.

As we all know, is now officially affiliated with ESPN. ESPN is mainstream, which means a lot of your casual fans end up reading news from Sherdog or being redirected to their website. Is Rio Heroes the kind of organization that Sherdog really wants to be advertising on their website? For a sport that has come so far over the last few years here in America, the violence and true bloodsport nature of what Rio Heroes appears to be, is something that could turn fans off of MMA in general.