UFC Vegas 57: Rodolfo Vieira says he’s a ‘blue belt’ in MMA

Legendary jiu-jitsu competitor Rodolfo Vieira is set to compete in his 10th professional MMA bout at UFC Vegas 57 when he takes on the streaking Chris Curtis. On Wednesday, Vieira spoke to the media about his fight against Curtis and how he ranks his development as an MMA fighter.

“Now I’m feeling a blue belt, with no stripe,” Vieira joked when asked if he is still a “white belt” in MMA. “Maybe after, if I beat Chris, one stripe. Yes, of course, as soon as I got into UFC, I had only 5 fights and maybe three years of training. My first sparring, I was 27 years when I did my first sparring. After that, only jiu-jitsu and wrestling… It’s hard to get experience being inside the UFC, it’s very hard inside the biggest event of the world, the biggest company, where the best fighters are, but it is what it is.”

Indeed, despite Vieira’s prodigious accomplishments in jiu-jitsu and grappling, he is still relatively new to MMA. Much of Vieira’s development as a fighter has taken place under the bright lights of the UFC against world class fighters. He is 3-1 in the UFC and is coming off a July 2021 victory over Dustin Stoltzfus. Prior to that, he suffered an upset loss against Anthony Hernandez.

As much as Vieira is progressing as an MMA fighter, he is still a grappler at heart. When he faces the striker Curtis at UFC Vegas 57, it’s no secret what Vieira intends to do.

“He’s gonna try to keep the fight standing and I’m gonna try to use my jiu-jitsu and my wrestling,” he said.

A veteran of 36 fights, the 34-year old Curtis is primarily a striker. Since joining the UFC in November 2021, Curtis has reeled off two straight knockout wins over Phil Hawes and Brendan Allen, respectively. Curtis was a substantial underdog in both of those bouts.

Vieira is one of the most accomplished jiu-jitsu competitors currently competing in MMA. He won gold at the IBJJF Worlds every year from 2011 to 2014, and in 2015, captured ADCC gold. Known for his pressure passing and top game, Vieira has not competed in grappling since a 2020 submission loss to Kaynan Duarte at Who’s Number One.

How to watch: UFC Vegas 57 takes place on Saturday, June 25, and will air live on ESPN+ (subscription required).

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

Ben Coate has 1184 posts and counting. See all posts by Ben Coate