BRASILIA – As the lines are blurred between politics and sport, Brazilian mixed martial arts fighters have come out in support of former president Jair Bolsonaro and an attempted coup against incumbent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva earlier in January.
On Jan 8, thousands of far-right supporters of Bolsonaro, decked in Brazil’s iconic yellow and green, stormed Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace – damaging artwork, spraying profanity on walls and destroying architecture.
The rioters, 39 of whom have since been indicted, were protesting against Bolsonaro’s election loss late in 2022. The BBC reported that Bolsonaro has voiced “regret” for the unrest, but denies he caused it.
Deiveson Figueiredo, a former UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) champion who lost his flyweight title following a TKO loss in the co-main event of UFC 283 last Saturday, was among MMA fighters who went against Brazil’s current elected government.
According to website BloodyElbow.com, a recent investigation showed that Figueiredo had shared pro-Bolsonaro posts on WhatsApp, including one that said it was time to “invade Brasilia” – the capital of Brazil.
“Either a free country remains or (we) die for Brazil,” read the post, which was also reported by The Guardian.
The British newspaper also said that there was a second post by Figueiredo which encouraged rioters to “camp inside the Congress” while another showed he was saluted by military generals.
The fighter’s strong support for Bolsonaro on the messaging platform was reportedly also shared by several other Brazilian athletes in the MMA fraternity, including jiu-jitsu stars and UFC fighters.
It is not by coincidence, however, that these athletes are all united in their stance regarding Bolsonaro, who served as Brazil’s president from 2019 to 2022.
Over the past...