ONE flyweight world champion Adriano Moraes (20-3) has carried his Brazilian identity with immense pride throughout his illustrious MMA career, and there's no doubt he'll showcase it once again when he rematches American icon Demetrious Johnson (23-4-1) at ONE on Prime Video 1 on Friday, August 26.
But while Moraes is best known for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt stylings, there is another Brazilian art form that speaks to his soul – capoeira.
The flyweight king originally discovered capoeira during his childhood in Brasilia, Brazil. During his walks home from school, he heard people singing and cheering. That initially piqued his curiosity, but it was the actions of the local capoeiristas who kept his attention.
Just like any impressionable adolescent, Moraes' young mind was eventually drawn to the mesmerizing martial art that combined dancing, striking, and acrobatics.
"Every time I passed the court when I was coming back from school, I heard that typical capoeira singing, the sound of the berimbau, and the crowd jumping, doing somersaults, throwing kicks, and having that whole party," Moraes said. "It all caught my attention. That's when I wanted to do capoeira."
Moraes started on that very same court and began taking capoeira lessons with Mestre Esquilo when he was 12 years old.
The flyweight would stumble upon Brazilian jiu-jitsu four years later and invest most of his time into his grappling pursuits and MMA career, but he still continued to practice capoeira in his spare time. After all, the art form's benefits helped him in other areas of life.
"Capoeira helps a lot," he said. "It helps with footwork, gives the athlete more creativity, and helps with movements. Despite being a dance, capoeira helps a lot in martial arts as a whole.
"I believe that many fighters started in capoeira. There was Marco Ruas, Pedro Rizzo, Rubens 'Cobrinha' Charles … many fighters have capoeira as a strong point and they always emphasize it. I believe that Brazilian fighters appreciate and value capoeira a lot."
Would Moraes join a capoeira circle today?
Moraes lives and breathes MMA. The Brazilian has been in the sport for more than a decade, owns a 20-3 record, and possesses a 70 percent finishing rate. Also, he is the most dominant flyweight in ONE Championship history.
Despite that, the longtime ONE flyweight world champion still fools around with his capoeira skills at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.
"Mikinho" and his teammate, Leo Carvalho, regularly practice the craft inside the gym walls. But if there were some capoeiristas throwing down around town, then the 34-year-old Brazilian kingpin would consider getting in on the action.
"If I saw a capoeira circle and had a lot of friends, if it was a friendly circle, I think I would join," Moraes said. "I would try my luck and play with people. Capoeira is that – it's a lot of fun, a lot of singing, and a lot of dancing."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.