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MMA HALL OF FAME Nominee » Euclides Pereira

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Euclides Pereira  • Pioneer • Regarded by many as the best fighter of the Vale Tudo era.
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"Without doubt, Euclides was the most skilled – a complete Vale Tudo fighter. Very good in the stand-up game. He threw well, he passed the guard well, nobody could put him in a leg lock, and he was very calm in the ring. Although he was a student of Jurandir, of the Pedro Hermeterios lineage, I believe that Euclides was better than all of us from The Academia Gracie, since we used to learn jiu-jitsu to teach while he learned it to fight in Vale Tudo. He had a natural talent for fighting, beyond a doubt the most technical fighter I have ever seen in action."
--Armando Wridt, Helio Gracie BJJ red belt

by Roel Torres

From a purely statistical standpoint, the man nicknamed “O Diablo Louro” (The Blond Devil), Euclides Pereira is one of the greatest Luta Livre/Vale Tudo fighters of all time. Fighting out of the Northeast region of Brazil, everyone seems to be in agreement that he was undefeated, but there seems to be some uncertainty on how many fights he won. One contemporary printed newspaper (the well-respected “Correio Brazilienese”) used the records of the time to estimate his lifetime record before a match that took place with Ivan Gomes in the middle of his career as 366-0, but Pereira himself suggests that there are many matches not included in that tally (also, Pereira is known to have fought to a draw at least once, against Gomes in 1964.) While the unbroken string of hundreds of wins seems outrageous and exaggerated by modern standards, it was a record crafted with transparency under the glare of complete public scrutiny. Active in the decades of the fifites, sixties, seventies, and eighties, at one point he fought weekly for a six-year period and these matches were broadcast on TV-Ring, a weekly television show that was aired live in Brazil by TV Jornal do Comercio, Recife. Pereira's exalted status on these shows was reflected in one of the nicknames he received: “O Galã do Ringue" ("The Main Star of the Ring"). These fights also received substantial mainstream press coverage, and the accounts survive today in photos and newspaper clippings from the time, all readily viewable on the Euclides Pereira Vale Tudo Facebook page.

With a lean, powerful frame and a versatile skill-set, Pereira used superior quickness, a diverse attack, and unmatched technical skills to dominate the opposition, who were usually bigger than him. Worth noting is that Pereira did not pad his stats by carefully handpicking woefully over-matched opponents, but rather faced the absolute cream of the crop, engaging in multiple well-documented fights with Luta Livre/Vale Tudo practitioners with reputations nearly equal (or even surpassing) his own. Among the fighters he defeated in organized combat are Waldo Santana (three times), Maneca Santana (twice), Aurino Santana, Renato "Escorpião," Sebastião Geraldo, Hilario Silva, Djalma Fidelis, Cicero, and most notably Waldemar Santana (20 kg heavier, defeating him five times), Ivan Gomes (30 kg heavier, five matches), and Zulu (35 kg heavier) -- men who are often considered legends in their own right. But perhaps his crowning achievement came when he became the only man known to ever defeat Carlson Gracie in organized Luta Livre/Vale Tudo competition, doing so at the Fonte Nova soccer stadium on September 8, 1968 in Salvador, Bahia in front of a sold-out crowd.

With the advent of the internet as a repository of information (including a well-researched feature presented by Ron Kruck and aired by Inside MMA, and UFC fighter/global humanitarian Justin Wren's detailed descriptions of their training sessions together) people are once again slowly coming around to recognize the awesome legacy of Euclides Pereira, sixty years after he started fighting. As of this writing, long past his retirement, Pereira continues to train aspiring fighters, drawing rave reviews from the the students who are fortunate enough to work with him, as passes along the knowledge that at one time made him one of the toughest men on the planet.

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