Brave CF 46: Leonardo Mafra fighting for Brazilian pride against Eldar Eldarov in Sochi

    Former UFC welterweight Leonardo Mafra has his eyes on the biggest prize of his career as he prepares to challenge for championship gold in Russia.

    Mafra will drop five pounds to challenge for Brave CF’s 165-pound super lightweight title in the main event of Brave CF 46, as the Bahraini promotion stages its first event on Russian soil on Jan. 16.

    Mafra (15-5) will take on reigning champion Eldar Eldarov in a battle between the Brazilian striker and the Russian sambo specialist, and said the hype surrounding the champ’s grappling credentials doesn’t concern him ahead of fight night in Sochi.

    During his time as Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cornerman for his fight with Thiago Tavares in Sao Paulo, Eldarov (12-1) persuaded the future UFC lightweight champion to wear a t-shirt bearing the phrase, “If sambo was easy, it would be called jiu-jitsu.” The slogan caused quite a stir with the Brazilian fans that week, and Mafra – who prefers to finish his opponents with strikes, rather than submissions –spoke about that incident in Brazil and said he’d like to gain a little retribution when he faces Eldarov on Jan. 16.

    “I’m a proud Brazilian, right? So, of course, I respect and appreciate the Brazilian jiu-jitsu,” he said during an Instagram Live interview with Brave CF. “More than that, I carry that flag wherever I go. But I know Eldar is a guy who likes to say he represents sambo. Well, if he’s from sambo, I’m a vale-tudo guy. Even better than sambo is vale-tudo, MMA.”

    Mafra heads into the title fight after more than a year away from the cage. His last outing saw him claim a unanimous decision win over Djamil Chan at Brave CF 25 in August 2019, but a planned bout with England’s Carl Booth was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    That bad luck turned into good fortune, with Eldarov eventually being handed a shot at the 165-pound title.

    A former protege of the late Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Eldarov heads into the matchup riding a decade-long 11-fight winning streak. His only career defeat came against Nurmagomedov in Eldarov’s second professional bout, back in 2009.

    Confirmed bouts for Brave CF 46 include:


    • Eldar Eldarov vs. Leonardo Mafra – for super lightweight title
    • Ali Bagautinov vs. Oleg Lichkovakha
    • Nurzhan Akishev vs. Roman Bogatov
    • Zhyrgalbek Chomonov vs. Konstantin Erokhin
    • Abdisalam Kubanychbek vs. Jahongir Saidjamolov


    • Rustam Chsiev vs. Gamzat Khiramagomedov
    • Magomed Abdusalamov vs. Andrey Lezhnev
    • Alexander Keshtov vs. Bair Shtepin
    • Khunkar-Pasha Osmaev vs. Yuriy Verenitsen
    • Dmitriy Krivulets vs. Murtaza Talha
    • Fedor Babich vs. Murad Bilarov
    • Erkinbai Abdusalamov vs. Said Surkhaev

    This was originally published on

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