Matheus Nicolau is not your average Brazilian fighter. He’s not from a poor family nor has lived through a difficult financial situation. His desire to pursue martial arts has led him to become BRAVE CF’s latest signing to beef up the already stacked Bantamweight division. As he looks to make a winning debut at BRAVE 25, in his native Belo Horizonte, Brazil, he can’t help but reflect on his journey in the martial arts journey and the path he has taken following the biggest tragedy of his life.
Even though Matheus had a different childhood than most kids in Brazil, one thing he had in common with all of them: his love for football. As nine out of ten boys growing up in the country, he wanted to become a professional football player. His physique wasn’t up to par with his age, though, and he would suffer the consequences of that inside the field, as he was tackled and lost possession far often than his technical level indicated.
To change that and become more resistant to opponents, he started doing jiu-jitsu. Little did he know it would completely change his life. His older brother led the way, as he too started working out and doing jiu-jitsu. His father was the biggest fan of the Nicolau boys, and always pushed them to play all sports they could and, after the divorce, whenever he had Matheus over for the weekend, they would watch sports in the TV almost the entire day.
As Nicolau grew into his teenage years, a tragedy changed the entire course of his life. Even with a growing love for jiu-jitsu, football was still his priority. All of that changed when his father passed away. Aged 13, Matheus found a way to cope with the sudden and devastating loss: train jiu-jitsu.
He stepped away from the football fields and focused on the mats. He recalls the difficult time in vivid detail.
“I remember deciding right there and then that I wanted to dedicate myself to martial arts. It was the day my dad died. I stared myself in the mirror and decided that I would be a martial artist. I found consolation in the mats. I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I didn’t want to go train football, I just wanted to go to jiu-jitsu class”.
His love for MMA was even older than jiu-jitsu, and derived from watching old fights on VHS tapes. However, he never thought he would become a mixed martial artist, a decision he took on that same fateful day.
“MMA started to be in my plans that day. I trained pure jiu-jitsu for two more years but started with proper MMA training at 15, and I’ve never looked back”.
After making his professional debut at 17, Nicolau soon developed into one of Brazil’s brightest prospects in the lighter weight classes, racking up victories in the local circuit, and established local promotions.
After a victorious stint with the UFC, Matheus is now on a collision course with one of BRAVE CF’s most decorated Bantamweights in Felipe Efrain. The fellow Brazilian is a striking specialist and has three devastating KO’s under the promotion’s banner.
Nothing that rattles Nicolau, who is now a jiu-jitsu black belt and one of Brazil’s most underrated wrestlers. He guarantees the focus is purely on Felipe but already has big plans for his BRAVE Combat Federation career, as he joins girlfriend and Strawweight contender Luana Pinheiro in the promotion’s roster.
“All I want is a win for my debut. I’m working hard, aware of my opponent’s level and skillset. I want to make sure that I get off to a winning start because then the sky is the limit with BRAVE CF. I know I can go out there and become a world champion for BRAVE CF and that’s what I want to do”.
For Matheus, the ultimate goal is to become the best version of himself. Something that a BRAVE CF title would clearly indicate.
“I don’t really pay attention to other fighters, or compare myself to them. My eternal pursuit is to be the best version of myself I can be. I hope that my best version can be the one carrying the BRAVE CF belt in my waist”.