The Rio Heroes (No Gloves-No Rules) show was a throwback to the Vale Tudo origins of mixed martial arts. In one of the show’s most memorable moments, a male Muay Thai practitioner went up against a female Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) student who had never had an MMA outing before.
The movement that led to the creation of the American and Japanese mixed martial arts scenes was rooted in two subcultures and two grappling styles, namely Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and shoot wrestling. The first events were the Vale Tudo events in Brazil, followed by the Japanese shoot-style wrestling shows.
As MMA evolved, participants started incorporating multiple martial arts into their styles, and promoters introduced more rules to increase safety and promote mainstream acceptance of the sport.
The female contender in question was Ediane Gomes, who is now a professional mixed martial artist. However, in 2007, Gomes was still battling her demons. She was recovering and had spent years living homeless in Sao Paulo. She was in dire need of money, which is why she agreed to a Vale tudo bout for the Rio Heroes organization.
Her life changed when she met Vale Tudo legend Jorge ‘Macaco’ Patino and started training at his academy in Sao Paulo. It was during this time that she decided to compete.
In the Rio Heroes event, Gomes was offered $250, plus an extra $250 if she won, to compete against a man with no knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu.
The bout was a No Holds Barred match with no gloves and headbutts allowed. Gomes, however, was undaunted. During the scrap, the man went easy on her at first, but after she showed initiative he ramped up his participation.
Realizing that he was trying to knock her out, Gomes riled herself up and eventually won by armbar from mount after a tough battle that left her compromised.
After the Rio Heroes experience, Gomes made her official MMA debut on August 16, 2007. She won her first five, but then faced future UFC women’s bantamweight competitor Amanda Nunes, who defeated Gomes via TKO in the second round.
Gomes went on to defeat Marissa Caldwell at Bitetti Combat 6, but then faced future UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, who defeated her via armbar just 25 seconds into the event.
Since 2014, Benny A. King has been fully immersed in the world of combat sports. Starting with a blog about Greco Roman wrestling, Benny’s passion for combat sports has led him to explore various disciplines.