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MMA HALL OF FAME Nominee » Eugênio Tadeu

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Eugênio Tadeu • Pre 1993 • Debuted 30 November 1984 vs. Renan Pitanguy.
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by Stevie Levie

Human beings are given to feuds, and Mixed Martial Arts is no exception. Beverages have Coke vs. Pepsi. West Virginia and Kentucky have the Hatfields vs. the McCoys. The Bible has God vs. the Devil. And the early history of MMA has Luta Livre vs. BJJ. The fighters' fight split down into something like Greasers vs. Preppies.

In short, Eugênio Tadeu was a great representative of kids who couldn't afford gis.

The term Luta Livre means wrestling in Portuguese. Luta translates to 'fight' and Livre translates to 'free' so the term is can be translated as 'free fighting.'

Luta Livre was founded by Euclydes "Tatu" Hatem, and was based on based on catch wrestling. In 1940 Hatem beat George Gracie by Double Top Wrist Lock, popularly know as a Kimura.
The Luta Livre banner was later carried by Hall of Fame nominee Euclides Perreria, who beat Carlson Gracie in 1968.

In the 70's the discipline was refined by wrestler, Judoka, and Engineering professor Roberto Leitao. Throughout, Luta Livre fighters trained no-gi grappling and used leg locks in an era when the BJJ community shunned both.

In the 1980s the style was represented by heavyweight Hugo Duarte and lightweight Eugênio Tadeu.

Eugênio was born, Eugênio Tadeu Gomes Amerim, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1965. He was trained under the tutelage of Marco Ruas and Tae Kwon Do black belt Luis Alves. Alves was a student of Tae Kwon Do black belt Nelio Naja, who in turn is credited with bring Muay Thai to Brazil.
Tadeu was the star of Luta Livre and front and center in the feud with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.  He would go on to fight as a 5'8, 160 welterweight in MMA, competing from 1994 to 2003, with a final official record of 3-3 with one no contest.

His first formal MMA fight was against Renan Pitanguy in a Jiu-jitsu vs. Lute Livre challenge show.  Pitanguy began the fight in a Gi, but removed it half way through the fight.  Tadeu pounded his opponent with bare knuckles, until Pitanguy's corner threw in the towel in the first round.  

Tadeu fought Wallid Ismael in an event aired by Rede Globo channel in national television in Brazil. The battle with Wallid ended when both fighters fell out the ring, almost causing a near fan riot. Tadeu was counted out by the referee, similar to something you would see in pro wrestling, as Tadeu was attempting to climb back into the ring. The fight is listed as defeat due to injury.

Tadeu's next fight ended in a full-blown riot, with serious consequences for the development of MMA in Brazil.

On 27 September 1997, in Rio de Janeiro Tadeu fought Renzo Gracie to a standstill. Late in the fight crazed Luta Livre supporters stormed the ring, and one of them cut Gracie with a knife through the fencing. The lights went out and fans rioted. In response, officials on Rio banned MMA for a number of years. The riot was featured on World's Dumbest Criminals and is listed as the #8 Worst Moment In MMA History by ESPN.

The next year, on 13 March 1998 Tadeu fought Mikey Burnett at UFC 16 in New Orleans, Louisiana. However, Tadeu was only able to land six strikes on the Lions Den protege Burnett, losing by Referee Stops Contest (Strikes ) at 9:46 of the first round.

However, public matches are only a small fraction of the bout Tadeu engaged in.

In the 80s Tadeu had a famous challenge match against Royler Gracie, that lasted a little under an hour.  Both men fought bare knuckle, wearing shoes and speedos in a Gracie academy, as Rickson Gracie sat in a folding chair watching, along with others.  Tadeu was able to land hard punches in the first part of the fight, even dropping Royler with a punch that nearly kKO'd the young Gracie, before spending a lot of time in Royler's Guard. Both men faded as the fight went on, and eventually it was mutually called off.

Today Tadeu has an active Facebook account, and is still involved in various form of combat sports, as president of the Associação Cultural Recuperar (Chile), presidente of the Associação de Luta Livre Esportiva, and president of Eugênio Tadeu Muay Thai Luta Livre MMA.

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