In a constant rivalry with Team Nogueira for the position of the greatest MMA team hailing from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s Nova União gym represents an astonishing success story in martial arts. Throughout the 90’s, the team stood out as the best in the world in jiu-jitsu among lighter weights, a dynamic that repeated itself in MMA in the following decade – always based on a lot of tough training and the gathering of top talent from all of Brazil. Factors that, according to André Pederneiras, the team’s leader, are not enough to keep his students in the country.
Currently in the final phase of building a new training center for Nova União, the coach, who trains the likes of José Aldo, Leonardo Santos and Hacran Dias, stated that the lack of support and structure for athletes in Brazil constantly has top talent migrate to other countries, especially the US, to represent different gyms. That also includes his own gym.
“I think the situation in Brazil is very bad at the moment”, Pederneiras told AG. Fight. “If I could, I would send them all out. I told them, you can go today – I see a lot more advantage [abroad] than continuing to train under the conditions that Brazil offers today. I train them to change their lives, [and if] I can’t do it here, I want them to move, regardless of whether they are in my team or in another.”
Jair Lourenço, a Nova Uniao member, already moved to Arizona earlier this year and seems to have created a new set of opportunities for some of the other team members. Currently, Renan ‘Barão’ and Jussier ‘Formiga’ are already training under his tutelage in the US, which seems to please Pederneiras back in Brazil, where some of his best fighters still remain settled.
“[José] Aldo has strong roots [in Brazil], he doesn’t want to leave […]. Aldo is already more [financially] stable, but I would like to give some advice to the Brazilian athletes, not only of my team, but that they migrate to the United States or some other country that provides them with better conditions than Brazil. Today, it is very difficult to be an athlete in Brazil, to train and to grow financially.”
A former fighter himself and now a renowned coach, the team leader and manager of many of his athletes, “Dedé”, who is seen as a father figure by many of his students, has experienced all facets of the sport. Therefore, confident in the talent that is still being developed in his home country, Pederneiras bets that with the correct investments, Brazil could take over the top of MMA.
“If you take a look at the history that the USA has with the Olympics and other world championships, you see that the investments in sports are absurd. We never had it in Brazil. We can’t describe what kind of athletes we have here. We got there and competed for belts [even though] we don’t even do 50 percent [of what we are capable of].”