December 25, 1982|
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight||185 lb (84 kg; 13.2 st)|
|Reach||76.0 in (193 cm)|
|Fighting out of||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Team||Renzo Gracie Academy|
|Rank||Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhães and Renzo Gracie|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Rafael Natal Diniz Franca (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁafaˈew naˈtaw]) is a retired Brazilian mixed martial artist who competed in the middleweight division of the UFC. A professional MMA competitor since 2005, Natal mostly fought in the Ring of Combat promotion before joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Mixed martial arts career
Natal started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and was eventually awarded his black belt by 5th degree black belt Vinicius Magalhães. Natal is also a professor (an instructor) at Renzo Gracie's academy in New York, where he trains with Márcio Cruz.
Natal's professional MMA career began in smaller shows and he compiled a record of 6–0 - which included a victory over Danillo Villefort - before scoring a minor upset victory over Silmar Rodrigo via unanimous decision.
Ring of Combat and Moosin
Natal then joined Ring of Combat and made his promotional debut against Alexandre Moreno at Ring of Combat 23. Natal defeated him via KO in the first round.
This was followed up by a submission win over Plinio Cruz at Ring of Combat 24, before Natal faced Victor O'Donnell at Ring of Combat 25. Natal lost to O'Donnell via doctor stoppage after round 1.
At Ring of Combat 26, Natal was supposed to fight Sean Salmon. However, Salmon had to withdraw and was replaced by Allan Weickert. Weickert was no match for Natal, who picked up the submission victory after a rear naked choke.
Natal then competed in Moosin: God of Martial Arts against The Ultimate Fighter 4 winner Travis Lutter. In a bout dominated by striking, Natal caught Lutter with an uppercut, giving him the KO victory in the first round.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
His first opponent was The Ultimate Fighter alumn Rich Attonito at UFC Fight Night: Marquardt vs. Palhares. Natal lost the bout via unanimous decision. Natal was dropped in the first round in the bout with Attonito. He recovered well and even got takedowns but couldn't do enough to win the decision.
Natal was expected to face Jason MacDonald on December 11, 2010 at UFC 124. However, MacDonald would later withdraw and was replaced by newcomer Jesse Bongfeldt. The fight was scored a draw by the judges. Natal won the first two rounds 10–9, but two judges scored the third round 10–8 Bongfeldt leading to the majority draw (two 28–28 scores) after 3 rounds. The scorecards were originally announced as a unanimous 30–30 draw, but when copies of the scorecards were distributed, the mistake was corrected.
Natal was expected to face Riki Fukuda on August 6, 2011 at UFC 133. However, Fukuda was forced out of the bout due to a knee injury sustained in a car accident  and replaced by Costas Philippou. When Philippou replaced an injured Alessio Sakara to fight Jorge Rivera, Natal faced former The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest competitor Paul Bradley instead. Natal defeated Bradley by unanimous decision, winning the first and third rounds on all three judges scorecards. In the fight Natal utilized excellent takedown defense and a constant barrage of low kicks to outpoint his opponent.
Natal was expected to face Magnus Cedenblad on January 26, 2013 at UFC on Fox 6. However, Cedenblad pulled out of the bout citing an injury and was replaced by promotional newcomer Sean Spencer. Natal defeated Spencer via third round submission.
Natal was expected to face Chris Camozzi on May 18, 2013 at UFC on FX 8. However, Camozzi was pulled from the matchup with Natal in favor of a matchup with Ronaldo Souza at the same event after Souza's scheduled opponent Costas Philippou pulled out of the bout with an injury. Natal instead faced promotional newcomer Joao Zeferino. He won the back-and-forth fight via unanimous decision.
Natal was expected to face Ed Herman on November 16, 2013 at UFC 167. However, after Michael Bisping pull out of his fight with Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30, Tim Kennedy's original opponent Lyoto Machida filled in for Bisping thus giving Natal the spot to face Kennedy at UFC Fight Night 31. He lost the fight via knockout in the first round.
Natal was expected to face Alessio Di Chirico on July 22, 2017 at UFC on Fox 25.  However, Di Chirico pulled out in the weeks leading up to the event with a neck injury and was replaced by promotional newcomer Eryk Anders. Natal lost the fight via knockout in the first round.
After Natal retired from professional fighting, he took up the role as the president of Dominance MMA in Brazil.
On October 2, 2017, Natal announced his retirement as a professional MMA fighter, with a record of 21-9-1.
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|31 matches||21 wins||9 losses|
|Loss||21–9–1||Eryk Anders||KO (punches)||UFC on Fox: Weidman vs. Gastelum||July 22, 2017||1||2:54||Uniondale, New York, United States|
|Loss||21–8–1||Tim Boetsch||KO (punches)||UFC 205||November 12, 2016||1||3:22||New York City, New York, United States|
|Loss||21–7–1||Robert Whittaker||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 197||April 23, 2016||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||21–6–1||Kevin Casey||TKO (punches)||UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Bader||January 30, 2016||3||3:37||Newark, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||20–6–1||Uriah Hall||Decision (split)||UFC 187||May 23, 2015||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||19–6–1||Tom Watson||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 183||January 31, 2015||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||18–6–1||Chris Camozzi||Decision (split)||UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs. Mousasi||September 5, 2014||3||5:00||Mashantucket, Connecticut, United States|
|Loss||17–6–1||Ed Herman||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva||May 10, 2014||3||5:00||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Loss||17–5–1||Tim Kennedy||KO (punch)||UFC: Fight for the Troops 3||November 6, 2013||1||4:40||Fort Campbell, Kentucky, United States|
|Win||17–4–1||Tor Troéng||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Bader||September 4, 2013||3||5:00||Belo Horizonte, Brazil||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||16–4–1||João Zeferino||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold||May 18, 2013||3||5:00||Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil|
|Win||15–4–1||Sean Spencer||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson||January 26, 2013||3||2:13||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Loss||14–4–1||Andrew Craig||KO (head kick)||UFC on Fuel TV: Munoz vs. Weidman||July 11, 2012||2||4:52||San Jose, California, United States|
|Win||14–3–1||Michael Kuiper||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 143||February 4, 2012||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||13–3–1||Paul Bradley||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 133||August 6, 2011||3||5:00||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Draw||12–3–1||Jesse Bongfeldt||Draw (majority)||UFC 124||December 11, 2010||3||5:00||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Loss||12–3||Rich Attonito||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Marquardt vs. Palhares||September 15, 2010||3||5:00||Austin, Texas, United States|
|Win||12–2||Travis Lutter||KO (punches)||Moosin: God of Martial Arts||May 21, 2010||1||4:12||Worcester, Massachusetts, United States|
|Win||11–2||Allan Weickert||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Ring of Combat 26||September 11, 2009||1||2:53||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Loss||10–2||Victor O'Donnell||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Ring of Combat 25||June 12, 2009||1||5:00||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Lost the Ring of Combat Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||10–1||Plinio Cruz||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Ring of Combat 24||April 17, 2009||2||3:13||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Defended the Ring of Combat Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||9–1||Alexandre Moreno||KO (punch)||Ring of Combat 23||February 20, 2009||1||3:59||Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States||Won the Ring of Combat Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||8–1||Jon Kirk||Submission (rear-naked choke)||SWC 2 - Battleground||November 28, 2008||1||3:19||Frisco, Texas, United States|
|Loss||7–1||Eduardo Telles||KO (head kick)||Fury FC 6 - High Voltage||July 12, 2008||2||2:18||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Win||7–0||Silmar Rodrigo||Decision (unanimous)||Mo Team League 1||August 11, 2007||3||5:00||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Win||6–0||Gerson Silva||Decision||XFC Brazil||April 29, 2007||3||5:00||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Win||5–0||Nailson Bahia||Submission (armbar)||XFC Brazil||April 29, 2007||1||1:24||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Win||4–0||Danillo Villefort||TKO (punches)||Gold Fighters Championship 1||May 20, 2006||1||N/A||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Win||3–0||Carlos Eduardo dos Santos||Submission (guillotine choke)||Wild Fight 1||October 1, 2005||2||2:46||Juiz de Fora, Brazil|
|Win||2–0||Walter Luis||Submission (keylock)||Champions Night 12||May 6, 2005||2||0:55||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Win||1–0||Emerson Avila||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Champions Night 12||May 6, 2005||1||1:58||São Paulo, Brazil|
- "Fight Card - UFC 187 Johnson vs. Cormier". UFC.com. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
- "Rafael Natal - Official UFC Fighter Profile". UFC.com. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
- "Middleweight Rafael "Sapo" Natal signs four fight deal with the UFC". mmajunkie.com. July 8, 2010.
- "10 February tussles worth watching". sherdog.com. February 4, 2009.
- "WildFire victorious in MTL debut". sherdog.com. August 12, 2007.
- "Haselrig suspended after Ring of Combat no-show". sherdog.com. September 12, 2009.
- "Mariusz Pudzianowski taps to Tim Sylvia punches at Moosin: God of Martial Arts". mmajunkie.com. May 22, 2010.
- "Rich Attonito vs. Rafael Natal added to UFC Fight Night 22 preliminary card". mmajunkie.com. July 20, 2010. Archived from the original on July 23, 2010.
- "Jason MacDonald Makes Return From Broken Leg vs. Rafael Natal at UFC 124". mmafighting.com. 2010-10-06.
- "Jason MacDonald out, Rafael Natal faces newcomer Jesse Bongfeldt at UFC 124". Archived from the original on 2010-10-23.
- Duane Finley. "UFC 124 Results: Rafael Natal and Newcomer Jesse Bonfeldt Given a Majority Draw Decision". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
- "Newcomer Weidman likely replaces Natal, meets Sakara at UFC on Versus 3". mmajunkie.com. February 14, 2011. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
- "Rafael "Sapo" Natal vs. Riki Fukuda Added to UFC 133 Card". mmaweekly.com. April 14, 2011.
- "Riki Fukuda out of UFC 133 due to car-accident injury". mmajunkie.com. June 20, 2011.
- "Replacement Costa Philippou meets Rafael "Sapo" Natal at UFC 133". MMA Junkie. June 20, 2011. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012.
- "Paul Bradley vs. Rafael Natal Slated for UFC 133". mmafighting.com. July 25, 2011.
- Matthew Roth (2011-08-06). "UFC 133 Results: Rafael Natal Punishes Paul Bradley to a Decision Win". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
- "Rafael 'Sapo' Natal welcomes newcomer Michael Kuiper at UFC 143". MMAJunkie.com. November 29, 2011. Archived from the original on December 3, 2011. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
- Staff (2012-02-04). "UFC 143 results: Though tested, Rafael Natal bests newcomer Michael Kuiper". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
- "Rafael Natal vs. Andrew Craig slated for UFC on FUEL TV 4". mmajunkie.com. May 16, 2012. Archived from the original on May 19, 2012.
- Steven Marrocco (2012-07-11). "UFC on FUEL TV 4 results: Craig survives Natal barrage, gets comeback head-kick KO". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- "Magnus Cedenblad vs. Rafael Natal booked for UFC on FOX 6 in Chicago". mmajunkie.com. November 27, 2012.
- "UFC on FOX 6 lineup finalized with Rafael Natal vs. Sean Spencer". mmajunkie.com. January 15, 2013.
- John Morgan (2013-01-26). "UFC on FOX 6 results/photos: Rafael Natal chokes out Sean Spencer in third". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
- Ariel Helwani (April 7, 2013). "Chris Camozzi vs. Rafael Natal booked for UFC on FX 8". mmafighting.com.
- Ariel Helwani (May 3, 2013). "Injury forces Costas Philippou out of 'Jacare' Souza fight at UFC on FX 8". mmafighting.com. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- Ariel Helwani (May 19, 2013). "UFC on FX 8 results/photos: Gas tank gets Rafael Natal past Joao Zeferino". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
- Staff (2013-07-12). "Rafael Natal vs. Tor Troeng added to UFC on FOX Sports 1 3 in Brazil". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
- Steven Marrocco (2013-09-05). "UFC Fight Night 28 results: Rafael Natal gets win vs. Tor Troeng in thriller". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- Staff (2013-09-05). "UFC Fight Night 28 bonuses: Teixeira, Hallman, Natal, Troeng earn $50,000". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
- Dana Becker (September 16, 2013). "UFC 167 Adds Ed Herman-Rafael Natal". fightline.com.
- Staff (2013-10-13). "Tim Kennedy gets Rafael Natal at UFC's 'Fight for the Troops 3'". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
- Matt Erickson (2013-11-06). "UFC Fight Night 31 results, photos: Tim Kennedy flattens Rafael Natal in first". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- Staff. "Ed Herman vs. Rafael Natal joins UFC Fight Night in Cincinnati". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- John Morgan (2014-05-10). "UFC Fight Night 40 results, photos: Ed Herman grinds out Rafael Natal". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
- Guilherme Cruz (2014-07-11). "Chris Camozzi vs. Rafael Natal set for UFC Fight Night 50". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2014-07-11.
- John Morgan (2014-09-05). "UFC Fight Night 50 results: Rafael Natal survives third to earn split over Chris Camozzi". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-09-05.
- Staff (2014-11-13). "Rafael Natal vs. Tom Watson set for UFC 183 in Las Vegas". MMAjunkie.com. Retrieved 2014-11-13.
- Brent Brookhouse (2015-01-31). "UFC 183 results, photos: Rafael Natal dominates gritty Tom Watson". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2015-01-31.
- Marc Raimondi (2015-03-05). "Middleweights Uriah Hall, Rafael Natal meet at UFC 187". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2015-03-05.
- Dave Doyle (2015-05-23). "UFC 187 results: Rafael Natal wins grudge match with Uriah Hall on split decision". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2015-05-23.
- Staff (2015-12-28). "Kevin Casey vs. Rafael Natal added to UFC on Fox 18 in New Jersey". sherdog.com. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
- Ben Fowlkes (2016-01-30). "UFC on FOX 18 results: Rafael Natal controls, finishes Kevin Casey in third". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
- John Morgan (2016-02-08). "Rafael Natal meets Robert Whittaker at UFC 197". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Dave Doyle (2016-04-23). "UFC 197 results: Robert Whittaker wins slugfest over Rafael Natal". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
- Staff (2016-09-21). "Edgar vs. Stephens, Boetsch vs. Natal, other bouts confirmed for UFC 205". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
- Ben Fowlkes (2016-11-12). "UFC 205 results: Tim Boetsch lays out New York-based Rafael Natal with brutal first-round TKO". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
- Massimiliano Rincione (2017-05-26). "Alessio Di Chirico vs. Rafael Natal added to the UFC card on FOX 25". foxsports.it. Retrieved 2017-05-26. (in Italian)
- Steven Marrocco (2017-07-13). "Alessio Di Chirico out at UFC on FOX 25; LFA champ Eryk Anders to debut vs. Rafael Natal". mmajunkie.com. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
- "UFC on FOX 25 results: Eryk Anders dominates, knocks out Rafael Natal in UFC debut". MMAjunkie. 2017-07-22. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
- "After 7-year UFC run, retired Rafael Natal now taking on management role". MMAjunkie. 2018-01-10. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
- "Rafael Natal Announces Retirement | Fightful MMA". www.fightful.com. Retrieved 2017-10-04.