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Female vs. male fight, with NO RULES

"My leg wobbled. Then I realized that he was trying to knock me out. I decided I needed to survive this. This was no game.”

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Modern mixed martial arts was born from style vs. style Vale Tudo ("Anything Goes" events in Brazil. There were no gloves, and often no rules, or even time limits.

Jorge Pereira, earned his black belt in jiu-jitsu from Rickson Gracie in 1986, and is now a 7th degree coral belt. with a successful academy in Miami Beach, Florida. In the 1980s and later, he was a ferocious defender of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in Vale Tudo fights. After defeating Alessandro Stefano at Circuito de Lutas 2 on July 5, 1995, a reporter asked him a pointed question: “You won but you bled a lot, didn’t you?” Pereira's reply was famous.

“A warrior doesn’t bleed, his honor overflows,” replied Pereira (Guerreiro não sangra, ele transborda de honra).

By the age of 42, Pereira was blind in one and had a severe knee injury, from his many years of defending the Jiu-Jitsu flag. But he wasn't done. 

In 2007, a Florida-based retired Marine and serial entrepreneur named Jason Atkins approached Pereira with a proposal to bring back the old school style of Vale Tudo fighting. The effort rented a satellite truck, and held the events with no spectators deep in Rio's notorious favelas. It was called Rio Heroes.

The promotion was profoundly raw and profoundly controversial. 13 events were held in 2007, and Rio Heroes 14 took place on January 29th, 2008. However, facing increased legal scrutiny, in part because the event's financial backers were gambling interests, and prohibited under Brazilian law, Rio Heroes stopped after the 14th edition.

Among its most controversial moments was this female vs. male Vale Tudo fight.

Earlier in her life, Ediane "India" Gomes was a drug addict living on the streets of Rio. Her life changed when she met Jorge “Macaco” Patino, himself a veteran of some of the craziest vale-tudo fights ever. At the time of the video, Gomes was trying to break into the MMA business, and the $250 to show and $250 more to win offered by Rio Heroes was a massive incentive.

Her opponent was a Muay Thai instructor, who, luckily for her, had vanishingly little familiarity with the ground game. That's Jorge Pereira at center ref.

Gomes reminisced about her early years in an interview with Ben Fowlkes for MMA Junkie.

“I was out of control," said Gomes in her native Portuguese. "All I (could) think about was getting high, and getting into trouble out in the streets. ... I was passed around as a child. Some took care of me, others didn’t, and others left me in the streets.”

“‘Macaco’ saw my potential. He was one of many people who helped me so I could get away from drugs. I wouldn’t have made it without their help.”

“For me, fighting was survival. I came from the streets. I grew up fighting in the streets to survive. Imagine being paid for a change.”

“I thought we’d be pretending to fight for a movie. I didn’t know that much about fighting. When I arrived, I found out this was for real. I wasn’t sure I should be doing it. Then I found out I could get 250 American dollars to fight and $250 more if I won. That’s a lot of money in Brazil. A lot of MMA events in Brazil just pay a fraction of that. I figured I’d make some money even if I lost.”

“In reality, at the start of the fight, he was just playing. He was going easy at first, to see what I had to offer. After I punched in, he kicked me hard on the thigh. My leg wobbled. Then I realized that he was trying to knock me out. I decided I needed to survive this. This was no game.”“I wasn’t sure I could punch him effectively since my hands were so small by comparison, so I decided to headbutt him. I knew I could hit him harder with my head and open him up. He started panicking since he had no jiu-jitsu. That’s when I was able to isolate an arm.”

“I had managed to get clean off drugs, fight a man, and win. I had dreams of fighting jiu-jitsu on the world stage. It was also great to get the $250 to show and $250 to win. A lot of the Brazilian media made it seem like we were being exploited, but a lot of other competitions would literally pay nothing, by comparison. Maybe what I did wasn’t right, but at least we got paid.”

Gomes went on to have a successful MMA career, retiring in 2018, following a win the previous year over Pam Sorenson at Invicta FC 23. Gomes fought the likes of Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes, Hiroko Yamanaka, Tonya Evinger, and Leslie Smith.

Gomes has come a long way, as far, in fact, as has anyone in mixed martial arts. And she has a lot of fans.

“After I lost (to Evinger) I could hear a man’s voice in the crowd telling me I’m a good person,” said Gomes. “Often when I meet fans, they hug me. I’ve been told that even if we don’t speak the same language, they can tell I’m a good person. I’m treated very well in the United States. There’s no money in the world that can measure up to that.”

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