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Scouting Report: Fighters to watch at BRAVE CF 60, from former champions to rising stars

Ahead of the promotion's return to Brazil on July 30, take a look at four names to watch at BRAVE CF 60.

BRAVE Combat Federation has hosted four epic events in Brazil thus far, with a fifth two weeks away. If one looks back through the BRAVE CF annals, it is not hard to regale fight fans with spectacular Brazilian-based BRAVE CF shows.

The South American nation has earned the title of BRAVE CF's "second home," and come July 30, BRAVE CF 60 will light up Brazil's sky for the fifth time when 16 of the world's finest mixed martial artists descend upon Goiania to showcase their talents.

BRAVE CF 60 marks another milestone, as Goiania becomes Brazil's third city to host the BRAVE Nation, as Brazil previously hosted events in two other regions: Curitiba (in the South) and Belo Horizonte (South East). 

Since BRAVE CF 1, the promotion has offered life-changing opportunities to 79 Brazilian athletes to date, a statistic that proves the brand's commitment to the growth and improvement of South American athletes.

Come BRAVE CF 60, a handful of BRAVE CF athletes will not only have the opportunity to earn money doing what they love, but also grab a moment that could change their lives forever.

Here are four athletes to look out for when the lights brighten up the Arena Goiania.

Lucas 'Mineiro' Martins 

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In the main event of the evening, Brazilian star Lucas Martins (20-6 MMA, 2-3 BCF) will want to show the world that his veteran-status star still has altitude on its wings as he goes up against hometown hero Henrique Marques (8-1 MMA, 0-0 BCF) in an exciting BRAVE CF lightweight bout.

It has been a disappointing run of late for Martins in the BRAVE CF cage, and that bout of bad luck was compounded by the withdrawal of his original opponent, France's Amin Ayoub (16-6 MMA, 3-1 BCF), who was forced out due to injury.

Prior to that, post earning the BRAVE CF lightweight championship against Brazil's Luan Santiago in 2018, the Brazilian's career has been thwarted by two bad losses, one injury-enforced loss and a plethora of fight cancellations.

His latest change in opponent may be another blow, however, Martins' shift in mindset will only be ramped-up as he looks to make a huge statement come July 30 against the BRAVE CF debutant, who will aim to make good on the hometown advantage.

A convincing win over the debutant could prove that he is worthy of redemption in the lightweight division and start making his way back to the top throne which is currently being held by Egypt's Ahmed Amir.

Luan Santiago 

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The BRAVE CF 60 co-main event of the evening sees another former lightweight champion, as Brazil's Luan Santiago (16-6 MMA, 5-3 BCF) takes on Moldova's Mihail Cotruta in the super lightweight division.

Santiago only got to share in the spoils of championship status for a short while after knocking out Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady. Four months later, he lost the belt to fellow countryman Cleiton Silva at BRAVE CF 25.

Brazil's 2016 "Fighter of the Year" then took a quick turnaround fight and got back on the horse to earn a hard-fought split decision win over Russia's Gadzhimusa Gadzhiev at BRAVE CF 29. With the pandemic in full swing come 2020 followed by the subsequent global lockdown, Santiago had to accept three fight cancellations and ended up without a single fight for the entire 2020.

As if that was not enough, the popular Brazilian lost to France's Benoit Saint Denis on his return in 2021 at BRAVE CF 49 before fighting in smaller promotions, which brought home a mixed bag of results. After more than a 15-month hiatus from the BRAVE CF Arena, Santiago returns and this next assignment could be a test of resolve on the biggest MMA platform.

He comes face to face with a BRAVE CF newbie who sports an insane record of nine knockouts. A win for Santiago almost guarantees his catapulting to the top of the heap and gets him closer to booking a date with the champion, Russia's Eldar Eldarov (13-1 MMA, 5-0 BCF).

Asu Almabaev 

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One of the biggest flyweight matchups in the world of MMA will be on display at BRAVE CF 60 as Kazakhstan's Asu Almabaev (15-2 MMA, 2-0 BCF) takes on the well-traveled Zach Makovsky from the U.S. Almabaev is one of his homeland's finest exports, adding on to the pedigree of the celebrated Kazakhstan fighters.

Almabaev won the 2021 BRAVE CF "Submission of the Year" award after pulling off a beautiful rear-naked choke against Ukraine's Aleksander Doskalchuk at BRAVE CF 53. That award was followed up by the well-deserved BRAVE CF "Breakout Fighter of the Year" prize which he celebrated with another strong performance when he beat Russia's Imram Magaramov via unanimous decision at BRAVE CF 57 earlier this year.

The 28-year-old Kazakh has a bright future ahead of him and has a celebrated past with only two losses coming back in 2017. There have been talks of Almabaev being the next in line to face the first-ever BRAVE CF Flyweight champion which will be confirmed when Velimurad Alkhasov takes on another Russian in Ali Bagautinov.

In order for that to happen he will have to first make it three out of three in the BRAVE CF cage when he comes up against Makovsky, who will be hungry to get back to winning ways after the latter's disappointing split decision loss to well-known rival, Alkhasov in the semi-finals of BRAVE CF flyweight tournament last year. Makovsky's drive to right his wrongs, compounded by BRAVE CF 60 only being Almabaev's third showing in the BRAVE CF cage, this will be a real litmus test for Almabaev.

Nkosi Ndebele 

The first and only bantamweight fight of BRAVE CF 60 will be one that does not include two Brazilian fighters, adding a touch of international flavor to the much-anticipated BRAVE CF event. Colombia's Eduardo Mora takes on South Africa's Nkosi Ndebele (4-1 MMA, 4-1 BCF) in a thrilling 135-pound bout. Ndebele's international star may have not risen to the mesosphere just yet, but make no mistake, the South African known as "King'' is a hot commodity back in Africa and his countrymen and women have long been waiting for his return.

Since his BRAVE CF debut back in 2018, "King" has only lost one out of four bouts thus far, with his last fight seeing him drop a spectacular knee on France's Abdelmoumen Mssaate in the second round of their BRAVE CF 48 bout. Ndebele may be a man of few words, but he will command the respect of his opponent with his cage presence as he looks to dominate the professional leagues like he did in the amateur division when he became the African champion.

Ndebele could also stake his claim as a force to be reckoned with in the Bantamweight division when he faces his Colombian counterpart.