Punch, punches, arm bar, rear naked choke. When we look at a fighter's professional MMA record, these are often the types of finishes we are used to seeing in brackets next to KO, TKO or submission in the win or loss column.
Slam, flying switch kick and spinning Capoeira kick on the other hand are finishes that are a bit of a rarity on a fighter's resume. For freshly signed Bellator fighter Marcus "Lelo" Aurelio, that's how three out of his first seven fights were finished, his remaining three wins were the "boring stuff" like KO (punches), TKO (punch) and Submission (rear naked choke).
Aurelio is still young in his professional MMA career, and he is ready to show people on a larger scale just how effective Capoeira—a rarely utilized martial art—can actually be in MMA. He's already done it on the smaller stage that is Battle Field Fight League in British Columbia, Canada. Bellator on the other hand provides him with a much bigger stage to send his message.
"I do want to go out there, fight some top guys and really prove that Capoeira is effective and really close a lot of peoples' mouths in regards to Capoeira being an ineffective martial art," Marcus told Bleacher Report. "I think that through Bellator this will be a big step, it's really the place where I can prove myself and prove my martial art."
Many of you probably haven't heard of Capoeira or if you have, you probably don't know much about it. Is it a martial art? Is it a dance? These are some questions you may have. In Canada the masses were introduced to Capoeira through the popular reality television series So You Think You Can Dance Canada, but, Capoeira is so much more than that.
Capoeira has a history that dates back to the 1600s, and is somewhat shrouded in controversy as to where exactly its first beginnings in Brazil are rooted. Part of this controversy was due to the lack of historical documentation and the very controversial setting in which it was developed.
"The history of Capoeira itself, is it's a ritualized combat that is disguised as a dance and it includes martial arts, acrobatics and music," Aurelio said. "Originally most Africans, most people that were slaves were from Congo and Angola, two million slaves were transported from these two countries to Brazil to work in sugar cane fields and cocoa fields because there was a huge demand in Europe. From there, they got together with the natives that were from Brazil and they created this martial art called Capoeira. It actually has a lot of influence from native and from African influences, different types of rituals from Africa and different types of rituals from natives is what created what you see in Capoeira today."
Capoeira, unlike many other martial art forms developed out of dire circumstances for a people who needed to defend themselves from the Portuguese conquerors. Boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are very different art forms in terms of their methods and where they came from historically in comparison to Capoeira.
"Other martial arts like Wushu, Kung Fu or even Jiu-Jitsu they all have books and they have instruction on how to properly apply movement and how to teach this and uniforms and stuff like that," he said. "Capoeira really didn't have that, Capoeira really came from the streets, it came from slaves, people who couldn't learn how to write or read, people who couldn't write things down to pass it on. What was passed on through Capoeira was just body, I would come and show you how to move your body and you would show it to somebody else."
Without the rigidity of some other martial arts, Capoeira is somewhat of a free-flowing style that can be made up as you go along. Watch the highlight video of Aurelio attached to this article and you'll see a fighter who seems to fight with a little bit of reckless abandon, a guy who will improvise in the middle of the fight just to get that stoppage.
Being able to throw spinning kicks, fists, flip around and cart wheel with such speed and fluidity is impressive to see in the middle of a fight. Capoeira makes for a very unorthodox fighting style, the kind of fighting style that freezes an opponent or gets inside their head before the fight even begins.
"When I go in there I try to make myself feel comfortable obviously and my comfort is in Capoeira," Aurelio said. "They [my opponents] know they don't know what to expect, because I might throw half a back flip on to some one's head. It's like I'll take those types of risks [..] Capoeira is an art of survival and I am going to do whatever I can to survive at that moment and if it requires me to even throw the kitchen sink at you, I'll throw the kitchen sink at you, but I am going to get out of there alive."
So far Capoeira has worked out really well for Aurelio, opening his professional MMA career with a 6-1-0 record with all his victories coming by way of spectacular finishes. With his signing to Bellator's welterweight division, fans will be able to see whether his success with Capoeira will continue at a higher level.
The Bellator welterweight division is a talented division with guys like current champion Ben Askren, fighters like Douglas Lima, Karl Amoussou and former UFC welterweights Paul Daley and Ben Saunders in the mix. Aurelio is jumping into deep waters, but it's what he wanted.
"I know it [Bellator] is a big step up, but that's what I really want to get to," Aurelio said.
If he continues to finish fights in Bellator the way he has finished fights up until this point in his career, it won't be long before we see him in the Bellator welterweight tournament and further success could definitely have the UFC come knocking.
Obviously, there are a lot of hurdles for Aurelio to overcome. So many fighters who start off well in this sport end up fizzling out as they get towards the UFC—fans saw that in Hector Lombard's UFC middleweight debut in Calgary last weekend.
What makes Aurelio's case so interesting is the fact that he is a second-generation Capoeira practitioner who brings a completely different style in to the sport of MMA, a style that is definitely fan friendly.
What Aurelio can do with his career is bring eyeballs to Capoeira in a fashion similar to the way former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida brought Karate back to the forefront with his spectacular win over Rashad Evans for the UFC light-heavyweight title.
You can see Aurelio make his debut on August 24 at Bellator 73 in Robinsonville, Mississippi. An opponent has yet to be announced for him, but Aurelio assures us he will be on the card.
If you're interested in learning more about Capoeira and Aurelio visit his training centre's website Axe Capoeira or the facility he works out of in Vancouver, British-Columbia, Canada. Aurelio can also be followed @barraozinho on twitter.
Leon Horne enjoys all sports and has a particular interest in MMA; give him a follow on Twitter for more information and keep an eye out for interesting interviews and news, Follow @Leon_Horne
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