More Than Inspiration: Cássio Barão

By Danny Jones (@Tidy_MMA on X)

In her autobiography My Beloved World, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote “a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this’”. 


Seldom does one encounter an individual whose example ignites aspiration and inspires emulation through sincerely obtainable means. Yet Cássio Barão represents an athlete paradigmatic to Justice Sotomayor’s words.


An undefeated mixed martial artist holding an 8-0-1 professional record, the 28-year-old Paulista is a six-time World Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion. However, it is not competitive accolades that render Cássio a role model – rather, it’s his incredible resolve, altruism, and ambition in the wake of devastating adversity.


Explore Cássio’s professional record, and one notices a significant hiatus between his 2014 professional debut, and his second professional bout in 2021. It was here that Cássio was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s Syndrome, a rare chronic inflammatory neurological disease. 


Enduring a deep, consuming depression upon discovery of his illness, Cássio’s condition deteriorated such that he fell into a two-week coma.


It is something that I don’t really like to talk about, because it was a very hard time in my life” Cássio admits.


It took a year for Cássio to rehabilitate, including relearning how to walk, and how to talk.


The only explanation that I really have is that God touched me in a way – and touched my life” Cássio says. “[God] was able to get me back on track and walking”. 


Today I feel great, but it’s definitely something I relate to during hard times” Cássio admits. “I fight not to get into that deep, deep place again”.


Following his own personal experience, Cássio strives to help anyone caught in the dark place that he once was. At 21 years old, he moved from his hometown of Cajamar, São Paulo, to Palmas, Tocantins, where he later established his own gym. Naming the gym ‘Centro de Treinamento Barão Jiu Jitsu’, in homage to his master Roberto Barão, Cássio not only offers opportunity to the locals, but helps over two hundred children that struggle with anxiety and depression through his non-profit organisation.


Cássio would flourish upon his eventual return to professional competition in December 2021. Competing six times in less than one calendar year, he extended his professional record to 7-0, winning every bout inside the distance.


On January 28th 2023, Cássio made his LFA debut at LFA 151 in Cajamar. With up to five hundred of his own passionate supporters in attendance, Cássio went the distance for the first time in his professional career, earning a majority decision draw against Lucas Barros. Seven months later at LFA 166, Cássio needed just 36 seconds to dispatch 26-bout veteran Paulo Oliveira.


Now, Cássio looks towards his first main-card bout with LFA – a featherweight matchup against Jose Ferreira at LFA 185. Hosted at Horseshoe Hammond Casino in Hammond, Indiana, LFA 185 is both Cássio’s first professional bout outside of Brazil, and his first time in the United States.


I’m extremely excited for the opportunity” Cássio says. “I know how big of an opportunity this is for me, and for my professional career, but I am more prepared than ever. I’ve been working with a sports psychologist to make sure my mindset is on point. My fight camp was great. No injuries. I’m just excited to come and put on a show. I think it’s the right time”.


His opponent – replacing the injured Busurmankul Abdibait uulu – is the third Chilean to compete for LFA; the matchup marks the first Brazilian-versus-Chilean bout in promotional history. 


For Cássio, it will also be the first time competing since becoming a father.


I love being a father” Cássio says. “I didn’t have a father growing up, so it’s extra motivation to be a good father to my daughter. I’m the type of guy that always wanted to have a big family, and a lot of kids – my wife already promised me that when I sign with the UFC, we’ll look into having some more kids, so I am looking forward to it!”.


Amongst the myriad of successes in the wake of unimaginable adversity, Cássio maintains a sincere humility. Performances with LFA have showcased his authentic unwavering ambition, and undeniable heart. Cássio Barão is more than an inspiration. Cássio Barão is a role model, and a credit to mixed martial arts.


I want to make sure everybody knows how much of a big heart I have inside the cage” Cássio says. “I wear my heart on the tip of my gloves for every fight. I know I’m the type of fighter that promotions want in the cage – I put it all on the line. I’ve got the good following, and with a good performance here in the US, I’ll be able to eventually knock on the Contender Series door – or the UFC!”.



The author extends his utmost gratitude to Cássio Barão, Max Soares, and Jamie McClintock for making this article possible.


Interview translation courtesy of Max Soares


Image sourced from Prefeitura de Cajamar (

Leave a comment


© 2023 Legacy Fighting Alliance LLC