CURITIBA, Brazil — UFC and PRIDE veteran Cristiano Marcello will return to mixed martial arts 4 1/2 years after his retirement to fight at Brave, and that’s one of the things that inspired his proteges Geraldo Coelho and Gabriel Miranda.
Both prospects are set to make their promotional debuts at Brave 15, scheduled for Friday night in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Coelho (11-3) takes on Jaime Cordoba (10-4), while Miranda (12-4) meets Fernando Noriega (5-1) in a co-main event bout.
Coelho competed at light heavyweight and middleweight early in his career before finding his home at welterweight and becoming a jiu-jitsu black belt under Marcello. Waiting for a date and opponent for his Brave debut, “Luan Santana” is out to bring a better life for his younger sister Michelle, who has Down syndrome.
”Being away from my family is a struggle, but the team here is unique,” Coelho says. “I have sister with special needs, I love her and miss her so much. My other sister sent me a picture this week, she took all my clothes and put over the bed and slept over them. It hurts my heart that I’m not there, but everything I do is to give them and my mom a better life. This is my dream and I have a price to pay. I work hard every day here.”
The welterweight prospect hopes to fight twice under the Brave banner and pocket enough money to make a 1,000-mile trip to his hometown Rondonopolis and visit his family before the end of the year.
“Fighters don’t have a schedule in MMA, so I have to stay ready at all time,” Coelho says. “Rondonopolis is too far from here, and it’s an expensive trip. I don’t have money to go there all the time.”
“Being a champion is my dream,” he adds. “Not that money doesn’t matter, but I want to make it to the top. I want to become champion, be the No. 1 in my division, and money will be consequence of my work and performance in the fights.”
Family also inspires Miranda, who joined CM System in Curitiba eight years ago and now aims to become a high-level fighter and give his kids a better life. After spending years balancing life as a fighter, and working as a security guard in night clubs in Curitiba, “Fly” now focuses on his career and teaching jiu-jitsu.
”It’s hard to make a living as a fighter in Brazil,” Miranda says. “Now that I’m in a big promotion I hope things will get better, but until I got here I had to work really hard to make a living.
”I didn’t even sleep when I worked in security, but I had a dream and worked hard for it. One of the things that motivate me after I quit that job was my daughter’s birth. She’s 3 years old now. I’m also expecting my second child now. They are the reason why I wake up every day and work hard. I do it for them.”
Winner of his last four, Miranda earned a shot at the Shooto Brazil flyweight belt in April, but was forced out of the card with an ankle injury. A year away from his last bout, a 73-second finish in Brazil, “Fly” hopes for a pair of wins under the Brave banner this year.
”I’m ready to fight,” Miranda says. “I’m going there for a quick submission, as always, and then be ready to fight the same night my master returns.”
One thing Miranda and Coelho have in common, aside from representing CM System, is being impressed — and motivated — by their coach Cristiano Marcello.
”I’ve been in the team for years, so I watched him prepare for the Ultimate Fighter and the UFC, and then I saw him retire. I’ve always seen in his eyes that he wanted to come back,” Miranda says. “He gave me a black belt and I’ve always gone for submissions in my fights because I look up to him. He’s an icon and as inspiration, and being part of his camp is fantastic.”
”I’m a big Cristiano Marcello fan,” Coelho says. “I’ve been here for five years and I’m happy to see him back to fighting. It motivates you to see him coming back at 40 and working hard with us every day.”
Brave CF 15 takes place at the Coliseo Bicentenario in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and features TUF Brazil 1 runner-up and UFC veteran Godofredo Pepey vs. Alexander Torres in the main event.