baseball, football

Belo Horizonte native Matheus Nicolau’s journey from football to jiu-jitsu to MMA

Matheus Nicolau

Matheus Nicolau

Born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, mixed martial artist Matheus Nicolau, 26, had a childhood that was different from that of most kids in Brazil. But there was one thing he had in common with all of them, which was his love for football.

From football to jiu-jitsu

Like nine out of ten boys growing up in Brazil, Nicoulau wanted to become a professional football player but his physique was not up to par with his age. He would suffer the consequences of that inside the field as he was tackled and lost possession far often than what his technical level indicated.

To change that and become more resistant to opponents, Nicolau started doing jiu-jitsu. Little did he know it would completely change his life.

It was Nicolau’s older brother who led the way as he too started working out and doing jiu-jitsu. Their father was their biggest fan and he always pushed them to play all sports they could.

After the divorce of Nicolau’s parents, he would watch sports on TV almost the entire day whenever he was with his father over for the weekend. As he grew into his teenage years, a tragedy changed the entire course of his life.

Football was still Nicolau’s priority even with a growing love for jiu-jitsu but all of that changed when his father passed away. When he was 13 years old, he found a way to cope with the sudden and devastating loss, which was jiu-jitsu training.

Stepping away from the football fields, Nicolau focused on the mats. He recalled, “I remember deciding right there and then that I wanted to dedicate myself to martial arts.”

“It was the day my dad died. I stared myself in the mirror and decided that I would be a martial artist,” Nicolau continued. “I found consolation in the mats. I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I didn’t want to go train football (and) I just wanted to go to jiu-jitsu class.”

From jiu-jitsu to MMA

Derived from watching old fights on VHS tapes, Nicolau’s love for MMA was even older than his love for jiu-jitsu. However, he never thought he would become an MMA fighter, a decision he took on that same fateful day.

“MMA started to be in my plans that day,” Nicolau shared. “I trained pure jiu-jitsu for two more years but started with proper MMA training at 15 and I’ve never looked back.”

At 17, Nicolau made his professional MMA debut. Soon, he developed into one of Brazil’s brightest prospects in the lighter weight classes, racking up victories in the local circuit and established local promotions.

On August 30, 2019, Nicolau will make his Brave Combat Federation debut at the Minas Tenis Clube Arena in Belo Horizonte. He will face Felipe Efrain, 25, of Sao Paulo, Brazil in the bantamweight division in the co-main event of “Brave 25.”

Meanwhile, here is a clip featuring Efrain:

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