Ex-UFC fighter Matheus Nicolau joins girlfriend Luana Pinheiro in Brave CF

Matheus Nicolau, 26, of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil is about to make his Brave Combat Federation debut. His girlfriend Luana Pinheiro, 25, joined the Bahrain-based mixed martial arts promotion in 2018.

Pinheiro made her Brave CF debut on April 13, 2018 at “Brave 11” at the Mineirao Stadium’s Terrace in Belo Horizonte where she submitted Elaine “Pantera” Leal, 30, via guillotine choke. Both fighters are from Belo Horizonte.

Luana Pinheiro, Matheus Nicolau
Luana Pinheiro, Matheus Nicolau

On September 7, 2019, Pinheiro will compete in Brave CF for the second time. She will fight Yasmeli Araque, 33, of Tovar, Merida, Venezuela at “Brave 26” at the Coliseo Hernan Jaramillo in Ciudad Salitre, Bogota, Colombia.

Born on November 18, 1994 in João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil, Pinheiro started off her martial arts career in judo before focusing herself in developing her MMA skills in late 2016. “Brave 26” marks her first professional MMA bout outside Brazil.

On the other hand, Nicolau’s first Brave CF bout will be on August 30, 2019. He will fight Felipe Efrain, 25, of Sao Paulo, Brazil in the bantamweight division in the co-main event of “Brave 25” at the Minas Tenis Clube Arena in Belo Horizonte.


“All I want is a win for my debut,” Nicolau shared. “I’m working hard, aware of my opponent’s level and skillset. I want to make sure that I get off to a winning start because then the sky is the limit with Brave CF. I know I can go out there and become a world champion for Brave CF and that’s what I want to do.”

Nicolau developed his love for MMA by watching old fights on VHS tapes. As a young boy, he loved football but he decided to dedicate himself to martial arts when his father died.

“I remember deciding right there and then that I wanted to dedicate myself to martial arts,” Nicolau recalled. “It was the day my dad died. I stared myself in the mirror and decided that I would be a martial artist.”

“I found consolation in the mats,” Nicolau continued. “I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I didn’t want to go train football. I just wanted to go to jiu-jitsu class.”


After a victorious stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Nicolau is now on a collision course with one of Brave CF’s most decorated bantamweights. Efrain is a striking specialist and has three devastating knockouts under the promotion’s banner.

It is nothing that rattles Nicolau, who is now a jiu-jitsu black belt and one of Brazil’s most underrated wrestlers. He guarantees the focus is purely on Efrain but already has big plans for his career in Brave CF.

For Nicolau, the ultimate goal is to become the best version of himself. He explained, “I don’t really pay attention to other fighters or compare myself to them.”

“My eternal pursuit is to be the best version of myself I can be,” Nicolau concluded. “I hope that my best version can be the one carrying the Brave CF belt in my waist.”

Nicolau competed in the UFC from 2015 to 2018, winning three out of four bouts. Here is a clip featuring the Brazilian MMA fighter when he was still in the American promotion:

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