29-year-old Mexican mixed martial artist Brandon Moreno beat his 35-year-old Brazilian rival, Deiveson Figueiredo, at UFC 283, and during the post-match interview, conducted in English, shouted in Spanish: “Viva Mexico Perros.”
The man translating the interview into Spanish for Moreno’s countryfolk chose not to translate his departing words.
Moreno’s victory cements him as the best flyweight in the UFC, as of early 2023.
“This for me, it’s very hard,” Moreno said during the post-match interview. “The people need to understand, I’m just trying to get food for my family and that’s it. I was trying to be very, very smart. The last one, I was so emotional.”
What is the meaning of the phrase ‘Viva Mexico Perros’?
The literal translation of ‘Viva Mexico Perros’ is “Long live Mexico dogs,” the meaning of which changes depending on whether or not its interpreter chooses to add punctuation.
It may be easy to assume there should be a comma in between ‘Mexico’ and ‘Perros,’ which would mean the whole phrase (including the word “Viva”) would mean “Long live Mexico, dogs.”
In other words, it would suggest that he was addressing the Brazilian fans as “dogs.” But he wasn’t. The ‘Perros’ in the phrase appears to refer to his Mexican fans, and to be meant affectionately.
“Viva Mexico” is a simple rallying cry. There exist equivalents in other languages: “Rule Britannia,” ‘Vive la France,” etc. But, as Luka Doncic once said “¡Viva México, güey!” its intention is to appeal to the fan base, not stoke up the rivals.
What happened next?
Brandon Moreno’s translator opted to abstain from translating ‘Viva Mexico Perros’ into Spanish, perhaps out of fear that the crowd would interpret it as meaning “Long live Mexico, dogs” – as in, with the comma, and addressing the Brazilian fans as such.
Nevertheless, afterwards, members of the audience appear to have thrown objects at Moreno as he departed the arena.
A video from UFC Español has been circulating on Twitter showing the fracas that followed. Security guards shelter Moreno as he runs out, laughing. He then embraces a friend, who addresses him as ‘Perro.’
Then, again, he shouts at the camera, “Viva Mexico Perros, let’s go.”
Sherdog forum users discuss the meaning of ‘Viva Mexico Perros’
In the mixed martial arts forum Sherdog, fans of the sport have been discussing the meaning of the phrase, ‘Viva Mexico Perros.
And there is some disagreement. While people can agree that Moreno’s speech took ‘cojones,’ there is no consensus on what he meant with his ‘Perros’ cry.
One translates it as “Long live Mexico, you dogs.” I’ve italicised the “you” to emphasise that this word doesn’t appear in the original phrase. Another interprets its meaning as, “Long live Mexico, dogs,” adding that they didn’t expect Moreno to “insult the crowd.”
But another says he wasn’t insulting the crowd. “He’s not calling them dogs,” they write. “It’s slang. It’s like saying ‘dude’ or ‘doggie.’” Which, interestingly, is different from the other two interpretations above. In this version, he’s addressing the Brazilian fans – or even the whole shebang, international audiences and all – with something akin to “guys” or “y’all,” depending on what sounds most natural.
What did Figueiredo say after the fight?
“Unfortunately it’s time to leave this division,” Figueiredo said during his post-match debrief.
“Congratulations to Brandon but I’m moving up. It was Brandon’s night. I thought it was an eye poke. I hope I don’t have any lasting problems with my eyes. I’m tired of making this weight, that’s why I’m moving up.”
For his part, Moreno’s parting message showed humility.
“This for me, it’s very hard,” he said. “The people need to understand, I’m just trying to get food for my family and that’s it. I was trying to be very, very smart. The last one, I was so emotional.”