Feature: ‘You’re Going to Die’ – The history behind Brazil’s notorious MMA chant

MMA is noisy. The sounds in the cage — polyurethane smacking flesh, the resounding thud of the canvas — are just one section in…

By: Tim Bissell | 4 years ago
Feature: ‘You’re Going to Die’ – The history behind Brazil’s notorious MMA chant
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

MMA is noisy. The sounds in the cage — polyurethane smacking flesh, the resounding thud of the canvas — are just one section in the sport’s violent orchestra. Outside the chain-link fence there are barks from cornerpeople, claps and horns from the timekeeper’s table and thumping bass through PA systems.

When produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA’s cacophony includes a unique, and predictable, soundboard; vocal-cord shredding screams of “It’s time!” and explosive grunts of “He hurt him!” The UFC layers actual music into the mix, too, including an oddly placed Romanesque chorus and the Dana White commissioned nu metal ode to face-punching.

Fighters, in the UFC and beyond, also use songs to add texture to MMA’s soundscape. See (and hear) Wanderlei Silva’s ‘Sandstorm’, Ronda Rousey’s ‘Bad Reputation’, and Conor McGregor’s ‘Foggy Dew’.

But the most awesome, and often annoying, sounds of fighting come courtesy of the thousands of punters who pack arenas to gawp at this bloody spectacle. Most of what they generate isn’t very creative. There are the boos when a bout doesn’t look enough like Mortal Kombat and the un-ironic chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! As of late, there are also the nauseating shrieks of ‘Whooo!’ — MMA’s version of the vuvuzela.

However, there is a chant that separates itself from everything else the crowd spews out. A chant, of intriguing provenance, that has grown to represent the sport and one of its homelands. Like MMA, it’s intense, aggressive, and entirely up for debate whether it’s in good taste or bad. That chant is ‘Uh vai morrer’ or ‘You’re going to die.’

It was August 27th, 2011 when ‘Uh vai morrer’ first rained down on the sweaty canvas of a UFC Octagon. The location: Rio de Janeiro.

Despite Brazil being an ancestral home of mixed martial arts, prior to 2011 the UFC had only visited that country once in its 18 years of existence. UFC Brazil: Ultimate Brazil (aka UFC 17.5) was held in São Paulo on October 16th, 1998.

That card was headlined by Frank Shamrock, who defended his UFC middleweight title by tapping out John Lober. Earlier that night Pat Miletich decisioned Mikey Burnett for the lightweight title, Pedro Rizzo dropped Tank Abbott and Vitor Belfort annihilated Wanderlei Silva.

Two years after UFC Brazil the Fertitta Brothers swooped in and began their campaign to transform MMA into a mainstream sports and entertainment product. The promotion grew in popularity throughout the 2000s and enjoyed record pay-per-view success as the decade came to a close. Throughout all of this, Brazilian fighters were a mainstay on bout listings, title fights, and unofficial rankings. The undisputed king of Gen-X’s wave of Brazilian fighters was Anderson Silva.

In 2011 the UFC decided to end its self-imposed exile from South America. They booked UFC 134 at Rio’s HSBC Arena and chose Silva, the reigning middleweight champion, as the headliner. Brazilian icons Maurício ‘Shogun’ Rua and Antônio Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira were also booked on the card.

Paulo Thiago was there, as well. A hard-nosed welterweight who’d had memorable clashes with Josh Koschek, Mike Swick, and Diego Sanchez. While fighting to reach the pinnacle of mixed martial arts, Thiago was also serving with Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE); a special forces police unit with a mandate for urban warfare against the drug gangs of Rio’s favelas.

Waiting in the cage for Thiago that night in 2011 was David Mitchell, an ace grappler and Tachi Palace champ from NorCal, who came up with Jake Shields and the Diaz brothers. I’ll definitely never forget Paulo,” said Mitchell. “Or the chant.”

Mitchell walked to the Octagon under a chorus of boos, thanks to the 14,000 fans packing the arena. His walkout song was a mash-up of Jimmy Hendrix’s rendition of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and U2’s ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’. Mitchell vs. Thiago was the fifth fight of the night and the first to feature a Brazilian versus a foreigner.

Joao Victor Xavier was in the crowd that night, covering the event for Lance!, South America’s largest sports-only newspaper at the time. “Crazy, crazy, crazy,” murmured Xavier when thinking back to the event. “It looked like a soccer game. A final game for a soccer season.”

The boos for Mitchell switched to rapturous applause when Thiago stormed out from behind the curtain. And just as quickly, the indecipherable roars of the crowd mutated into song.

Thiago had chosen ‘Tropa de Elite’ by São Paulo rapcore group Tihuana for his walkout song. The partisan crowd knew every word. “It was unbelievable,” said Mario Yamasaki, who was in the cage at the time. “I remember exactly that day because it gave me goose bumps.”

The song, which includes the lyric ‘Elite troop, hard to crack’, was part of the official soundtrack for the 2007 film Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad). The film was directed by José Padilha (Narcos) and written by Bráulio Mantovani (City of God). It starred Wagner Moura (Narcos) as BOPE captain Roberto Nascimento. The film won the Golden Bear at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival and is still one of Brazil’s most critically and commercially successful films.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, a sequel also starring Moura, was released in 2010. Like the first film, Elite Squad 2, received critical acclaim and box office success. The sequel is the highest-grossing Brazilian film of all time and the record holder for box office sales of any film in Brazil, Brazilian or otherwise.

“When he came out to the song, the movie was fresh in people’s minds,” said Xaiver. “So the crowd was even more electric than what you see at a soccer game. It was crazy, crazy. It was like, the ground was like shaking, people everywhere were jumping, having fun.”

Xavier believes the incredible reception Thiago received at UFC 134 was thanks to Elite Squad’s notoriety in mainstream Brazil and because of the messages contained in those films. “It was something that confronted people’s beliefs in the system. Altogether it was a relevant movie and it had a very big cultural impact overall in this society.”

More so than the original, The Enemy Within tackled the complicated relationship between Brazilian law enforcement and politics. It discussed corruption and questioned the moral authority of BOPE and similar groups. Ultimately the film, like its predecessor, lionized BOPE and Mauro’s Nascimento as brutal solutions to a Brazil that had been buckled by criminals and abused by a plunderous political elite. It’s a theme that does well in Brazil. And it’s a theme that gave BOPE celebrity status and reverence across most of the country. It also made Paulo Thiago one of the more popular fighters at UFC 134.

The crowd in Rio serenaded Thiago for every inch of his walk to the Octagon. Seamlessly their word for word rendition of ‘Tropa de elite’ then transitioned to repeated chants of just a single word; caveira (skull). This was also a reference to BOPE, which has a knife piercing a skull, atop two crossed pistols, as its insignia. Faca na Caveira (knife in the skull) is BOPE’s motto. Thanks to Elite Squad, that’s a popular expression in Brazil. It means something like, “Let’s do this.”

A patch for Brazil’s Special Police Operation’s Battalion (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais) aka BOPE
Quassy / Wikicommons

The caveira chants lasted while Thiago entered the cage and simmered as he and Mitchell were introduced to the masses. As Yamasaki stepped forwards to give both fighters the green-light, another chant took over in the crowd. Uh vai morrer. Uh vai morrer. Uh vai morrer…

“It was awesome,” said Yamasaki of the moment he first heard the chant being sung all around him. “It was really really unbelievable being there, with the amount of people screaming one phrase. Unbelievable.”

The chant rocked the arena before melting back into the general din of crowd noise. It would flow in and out throughout the fight, which ended in a decision victory for Thiago. Uh vai morrer popped up repeatedly for the rest of UFC 134, as fans were treated to emphatic victories from Minotauro (over Brendan Schaub), Shogun (over Forrest Griffin), and The Spider (who TKO’d Yushin Okami in the second round).

Rodrigo Tannuri, a spectator at the event, watched all of this action, alongside his father. Although he was not swept up in chants of ‘Uh vai morrer’, those words made a lasting impression on him. “It escalated as the fights went on,” he recalled (via Lucas Rezende). “At first, I thought it was a bit weird. Brazilians are used to that because of football, but this is another sport.”

Indeed ‘Uh vai morrer’ was not invented for the controversial sport of cage-fighting. It was instead co-opted from Brazil’s most popular sporting pastime.

Futebol, Football, Soccer, Calcio… whatever you want to call it, is comfortably the most popular game the world has ever known. And wherever it’s played it attracts fanaticism that is rarely rivaled in any other sport. Football stands are filled with devout followers who, as part of their worship, sing and chant until the final whistle.

Unlike big league North American sports, graced with simplistic chants of DE-FENCE or LET’S GO… something or other, football chants often include florid and skewering verses, customized for specific teams, players, and entire nations. But not all football chants are any more complex than what you’d hear at Yankee Stadium or the Staples Center. Some are just pop songs. Some are just sounds. That’s how Uh vai morrer began.

In 1993 Atlanta-based hip hop duo Tag Team released their debut album Whoomp! (There it is), reaching #39 on the Billboard 200 chart. Track one on the album — also titled ‘Whoomp! (There is is)’ — peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Today the track is celebrated as one of the more recognizable hip hop songs to come out of the 1990s.

‘Whoomp!’ was an international hit, too. Xavier remembers it well. “This kind of music — in general — here in Rio in the 90s, it was very big.”

In the States ‘Whoomp!’ quickly spread from radio waves and MTV to sports arenas, with the infectious chorus being used to pump up the home team’s fans. It was used like this in Brazil, too. However, in Brazil the crowd weren’t singing along with the original lyrics.

“Not everyone knew English at the time,” said Xavier. “Now it’s become more common, most people have more ways to learn it, but most people didn’t know English so, with ‘Whoomp!’ and other songs, they would always sing whatever they heard.”

And so, ‘Whoomp! (There it is)’ became ‘Uh-tererê’ around Brazilian soccer pitches and basketball courts. ‘Uh-tererê’ is not Portuguese, it’s just noises. But, across the 1990s and early 2000s, this simple repetition of sounds was a signature crowd noise in Brazil.

Once ‘Uh-tererê’ was established in Brazil’s collective consciousness, it didn’t take long for ‘Uh vai morrer’ to emerge. The responsibility for this change rests on the shoulders of the Ultras; Brazil’s ultra-passionate (and ultra-violent) soccer supporter clubs.

Ultras exist in most nations where football is played. They’re groups of hardcore fans who strive to present a fearsome presence both inside and outside of stadiums. Their goals: to spur on their team and intimidate their rivals. Ultra culture in Brazil is especially ardent, with some of Brazil’s most successful and popular teams — like Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, and Santos — inspiring multiple groups of Ultras. Some of these Ultras don’t just advocate for their club, they also support specific social and political ideologies.

Across the sporting globe, Ultras from rival teams clash in violent (and sometimes fatal) street and stadium brawls. It’s an occurrence that happens routinely in Brazil. In Brazil even groups of Ultras supporting the same team — but alongside divergent ideologies — are known to fight. Under such a chaotic atmosphere, it’s not surprising that the upbeat and encouraging ‘Uh-tererê’ morphed into something far more menacing.

“It’s impossible to know how long this kind of thing has been going on,” said Panayotis League, PhD, an ethnomusicologist at Harvard University who previously lectured at the State University of Paraiba in João Pessoa, Brazil.

“All the evidence points to processes like this one having been going on for as long as people have been singing, or as long as people have been chanting or taking some kind of codified language, whether they were thinking about it as poetry or a magical spell.”

League stated that this process — of substituting one text for another, without substantially changing its musical accompaniment — is known as contrafactum.

League added that Brazil is a notably fertile breeding ground for contrafacta. “Brazilians, in general, have a very strong oral, poetic, and musical culture,” he said. “And they tend to be very good at making up new lyrics for things; catchy little songs that are commenting on society or politics or what’s going on at a particular moment.”

Examples of contracta are, according to League, especially prevalent within the Brazilian Carnival scene. “Very frequently people will take the melody of a very popular song, a pop song or a traditional melody, and put new lyrics to it.”

“It’s just something people do,” continued League, enforcing that contrafactum is a universal phenomenon. “It’s the first step of composition, really. Take something you know and change some slight thing about it. Then it becomes something different and you keep doing that and eventually the individual composer decides that it’s something new. But that’s really how composition frequently works and that’s how improvisation works, not just in music, and poetry, and language, but everything people do. Everything comes from something else.”

But despite being familiar with numerous examples of contrafactum, League — a self-professed Brazilophile — said he found ‘Uh vai morrer’ particularly interesting.

“I was a high schooler in the nineties, so of course I remember the original song,” said League. “But what’s interesting to me, as someone who studies these processes, is that the new chant follows the rhythmic structure and the syllabic structure, but it doesn’t really rhyme. It doesn’t sound particularly close to the original.

“‘Uh vai morrer,’ doesn’t particularly sound like ‘Whoomp! There it is’. Frequently when contrafacta happens, people try to match the new text onto the old text, as far as the same vowel sounds, or a rhyme, or something like that. In this case it’s not. It’s really just a little rhythmic phrase; short and easy. And you’ve learned it perfectly after the very first time you hear it. You don’t need to hear it repeated ten or twenty times. Somebody says ‘Uh vai morrer’, you immediately know what it means.”

Without questioning everyone who was in attendance when ‘Uh-tererê’ first transformed into ‘Uh vai morrer’, it’s impossible to know, definitively, how this new chant was born. It’s likely that experts will never know whether it was generated by a hive-mind-like mentality or by a single songsmith who came up with a bright idea.

League said, if he had to guess, he would favor the ‘chanter-zero’ thesis. “That song was popular enough that everybody would know what they were referring to and probably it just spread. It’s catchy, it’s straight to the point of the sport. It’s immediate and violent and threatening, and I’m sure everybody likes it and just started screaming it.”

At UFC 134, David Mitchell was the first non-Brazilian to be targeted with the chant of ‘You’re Going to Die’, but he wouldn’t be the last. Dozens of fighters have now heard it; at open workouts, weigh-ins, and during their fights. It’s not limited to UFC fighters, either. Brazilian promotions such as Jungle Fight routinely book non-Brazilians to take on their local talent and bear witness to fanatical screams of ‘Uh vai morrer’.

But does the chant achieve what the fans are hoping for — a psychological edge to ‘their fighter’? And what do the targeted fighters think about thousands of fans yelling that their days, maybe even minutes, are numbered?

“[The chant] maybe added a little extra nerves,” offered Mitchell. “It’s definitely a home town advantage kind of thing and that’s why they did it. It was intense.”

Mitchell added that his experience in Brazil didn’t lead him to thinking Brazilians were “bad fans”. “They were just very passionate about their fighters,” he said. “[The chant’s] a little over the top, possibly, but MMA’s crazy and the guy is trying to kill you, so… it’s appropriate.”

Zak Ottow, who fought Sérgio Moraes in São Paulo in 2016, said he “had fun” with the chant. “Not only did I get it during the fight, but I got it during weigh-ins, too. So they really showed support for their guy and it was definitely a unique experience walking out.”

“It’s cool,” added Ottow. “I hope they keep doing it. It makes the sport fun. I love any fans that are involved. Either against me or for me, as long as the fans are getting entertained and into it, that’s great.”

Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader fought for the UFC in Brazil on two occasions, defeating Antônio Rogério Nogueira in 2016. Like Ottow, he enjoyed the atmosphere that comes along with ‘Uh vai morrer’ and he’s got no hard feelings about it.

“I always sort of embraced it,” said Bader (via Zane Simon). “I looked at it as more as [them] being passionate fans … Obviously they want their guy to win. It’s just one of those things where it’s kind of a tradition there. So, I never took it to heart. And every interaction I had with fans down there, they were super cool.”

UFC welterweight Neil Magny has fought in Brazil three times. He said he was confused when he first heard the chant, but then grew to appreciate it. “Had someone not told me what they were saying, I would have never known. I would have just thought they were singing a national anthem or something, but [my jiu jitsu coach] told me they’re actually singing ‘You’re going to die,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, wait, wow, that’s not very nice.’”

Magny compared the chant to things he’s heard at home in the US. “In football we say, ‘Oh we’re going to stomp those guys,’ and that kind of thing. You don’t necessarily mean you are going to physically stomp somebody, you’re going to go out there and dominate the game.”

UFC bantamweight Marion Reneau reported a similar experience during her Brazilian debut back in 2015, when she beat Jessica Andrade in Porto Alegre. “I heard that chant during the weigh-ins and I honestly thought they were cheering for me, because nobody told me about the chant and I was like, ‘Man, that’s a cool little chant, they must really like me!’”

Like Magny, Reneau was eventually clued in by her BJJ coach. “He looks at me and says, ‘You’re going to die.’ And I go, ‘Oh my god,’ because I was fist pumping to it!” But Reneau said that after she had the surreal experience of competing during the chant, she thought it was “kind of neat”.

“Now when I think about it, I don’t think anything of it because it’s just something they do as a culture. I don’t think it’s disrespectful. It’s something they do to get behind their person, no matter who it is. Sometimes I wish Americans would do that to American fighters. Why don’t we have a little chant?”

Bosnian-born UFC lightweight Damir Hadžović, fighting out of Denmark, said he knew all about the chant when he competed at UFC Belem in 2017. “We’re used to hooligans [in Europe],” he said. “When I got in there, I knew what I had to do. I blew them kisses, ‘Oh obrigado, thank you!’ Because I waved they did not have that hostility towards me. I kind of played a little smart with them, not that Colby Covington thing, you know?”

“But all that ‘Uh vai morrer’, doesn’t affect me. What can they do? They cannot fight us. But it’s cool, I like it. It brings the atmosphere. The Brazilians are crazy fans. They make it exciting.”

The first time UFC strawweight Amanda Cooper went to Brazil, while supporting a coach who was fighting on an XFC card in São Paulo, she wondered if the fans were going to fight her. “It was the loudest chant ever,” said Cooper. “It was scary. The entire crowd was possessed and they were all screaming it. They’re screaming ‘You’re going to die’ as you’re walking up to the cage. And you’re not sure if you beat them … are you going to get jumped in the parking lot? It was really cool, honestly.”

Someone who is not a fan of ‘Uh vai morrer’ is UFC bantamweight Jimmie Rivera. He beat Pedro Munhoz in São Paulo in 2015. When asked his take, he said: “I think it’s great if you’re a Brazilian. But like, for someone that’s not from their country … screaming a chant that says, ‘You’re going to die’ is kind of f**ked up.”

“No one’s saying, ‘Oh you’re going to die. We want you to die,’ in the US. So I wasn’t a big fan of it at all. Cheer for your home team, I understand, but I don’t believe you have to cheer, ‘You’re going to die’ in Portuguese.”

UFC welterweight Tim Means, who has had three fights in Brazil, couldn’t disagree more.

“It’s badass,” he said, matter-of-fact. “If anyone’s followed my story, I’ve been shot, stabbed, all that. I’ve looked death in the face, faced death more than once. That energy, you can feel those roars off your skin, you get goose bumps, and you can feel the cage vibrating and the floor vibrating and it’s just … it’s electrifying, man. It’s absolutely outstanding. What a fun fight environment.”

Not many Brazilian fighters were willing to go on record regarding their thoughts about ‘Uh vai morrer’. One highly ranked UFC fighter stated they didn’t want to publicly express their distaste for the chant, for fear of a negative reaction back in Brazil. The few Brazilians who were happy to chat were positive about the chant and the fans who sing it.

“It feels awesome when the crowd says, ‘Uh vai morrer.’ Like, ‘You’re going to die,’” said Livia Renata Souza, former Invicta FC strawweight champion and current UFC strawweight. “It’s great support to us, [it] gives us extra fuel.”

“The Brazilian people are so creative, you know?,” laughed UFC middleweight Antônio Carlos Júnior when asked about the chant. “They always have something funny to say.”

“For me it’s great, because it’s not against me!,” said Júnior who then stated he didn’t think there was anything disrespectful about the chant. “I think the crowd just thinks it’s something to pressure the guy who is not Brazilian, who is fighting the Brazilian.”

Júnior added that he’s seen things in MMA that he thinks are more disrespectful than what the Brazilian crowd likes to sing. “You see Chael Sonnen or even Colby Covington, they talk a lot of s**t. This is really disrespectful, because you’re not just talking about someone, you’re talking about a country, and I think this is disrespectful.”

Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Glover Teixeira said that the ‘Uh vai morrer’ chant was, “actually [a sign of] respect” from Brazilian fans. He also said that the ‘die’ part of ‘You’re going to die’ shouldn’t be taken so literally.

“Sometimes the guy gets tired on the mat and you say, ‘Hey man, you’re dying, you’re dying,’” said Teixeira. “I don’t think [fans] really mean like, ‘You’re going to die,’ like really die. Die as in like, lose in the fight … I don’t see a disrespect, I just see the way they are.”

One of the more nuanced takes on ‘Uh vai morrer’ comes from veteran UFC bantamweight Rani Yahya. “When people started that here in Brazil, I — as a spectator — thought it was disrespectful. I thought it looked bad for Brazilians,” said Yahya (via Lucas Rezende).

“Telling people they will die? I mean, I was never a really religious guy, but I would never wish for someone to die. So I didn’t like it very much. However, when I fought Johnny Bedford here in Brasilia, there already was some bad blood between the two of us. I remember this was one of the most memorable moments. At the weigh-ins, he came out first and everybody started chanting that. Then I came out and everybody started cheering for me.

“At that moment, I felt the support of the crowd and I liked it. So that’s how it goes. As a spectator, as a human being, I don’t like it. As a fighter, I feel grateful, because I know that they want to motivate me.”

Joao Victor Xavier, who currently works as a press officer for the Bahrain-based MMA promotion BRAVE, has heard ‘Uh vai morrer’ plenty of times at MMA shows and at soccer stadiums. He remembers laughing at UFC 134 when the chant made its Octagon debut. “I felt like it was just a way of taunting,” he explained. “It was more like a taunt. I didn’t feel like it was done in a menacing tone.”

“I understand where people come from when they say they don’t like it, but I can one hundred percent say that, as a fan of mixed martial arts and as a journalist, too, that it’s done in a humorous way. You can dispute if it’s in good taste or bad taste, but I don’t think it’s done in a menacing way.”

MMA journalist Steve Jeffery, co-host of The Hammer MMA Radio, agrees with Xavier regarding the actual intent of Brazilians who sing this infamous chant. Jeffery has attended MMA shows on most continents and he heard ‘Uh vai morrer’ in person at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Henderson 2 in Natal in 2014.

“You get there and you get to the building and it’s just overpowering,” he said. “That was probably, pound-for-pound, the second largest chant I’ve ever heard. The first would have been obviously the UFC 129 event, Georges St-Pierre vs. Jake Shield in Toronto. That was with 50,000 plus people, arena shaking stuff. But to my memory, the second largest chant would be that overall uneventful UFC Fight Night in Brazil.”

“If I thought that they meant it, if I thought they meant they wanted to see the opposing fighter literally die, then I would think that’s in bad taste,” said Jeffery. “I don’t believe that at all. To me it’s just what they chant. Now it’s a part of tradition of going to the fights.”

Tradition or not, Rodrigo Tannuri, who was in attendance at UFC 134, said he wishes the chant would stop. “I don’t like it,” he revealed. “Unfortunately, the media treats MMA as ‘Brazil against the world’ kind of thing, which spices things up even more. Because of that, among other things, we’re perceived as savages.”

Bloody Elbow’s Lucas Rezende agrees with much of Tannuri’s assessment. “To me, it’s like one of those roll your eyes moments,” he added.

Rezende said he knows many foreign fighters have no problem with the chant and that some are even energized by being told they’re ‘going to die’ by thousands of people. However, Rezende is concerned about the impact ‘Uh vai morrer’ makes on the reputations of both MMA and Brazil.

“That shouldn’t be the image that we’re trying to get across to other people,” said Rezende. “But I think most Brazilian fans don’t care and they even like it because that shows that a Brazilian crowd is scary and something to be concerned about.

“I think you can do that without having to disrespect the fighter. You can just cheer for the fighter you want to cheer for without having to insult a foreign fighter. Because if you’re welcoming someone into your country, you should treat them well and give them a nice welcome. But people treat foreign fighters as enemies and they find it hard to separate that from the sport, which is why I don’t like it.”

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the infamous chant of ‘Uh vai morrer’ is firmly entrenched within mixed martial arts culture. The chant is one of many details that stoke debate over what is and isn’t appropriate and agreeable in a sport where people attempt to destroy each other’s faces.

But, the similarities between ‘Uh vai morrer’ and MMA go beyond sharing grey areas between good taste and bad. The chant’s history is one that bears more than just a passing resemblance to the evolutionary path of mixed martial arts.

‘Uh vai morrer’ was born in Brazil, the product of something that came from overseas. A product, which itself was a mishmash of other influences (Whoomp! samples an Italian disco track and is suspiciously similar the earlier Whoot! there it is by 96 South). When ‘Uh vai morrer’ debuted it was frightening and threatened to fulfill what it was prophesying. But when it reached the UFC cage, it was declawed, sanitized, tongue-in-cheek. Today, MMA’s ‘Uh vai morrer’ isjust like WME’s UFC merely an echo from the more violent, and clandestine, world that spawned it.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

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