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Elizeu Zaleski: Wheel kick KO was ‘an homage to Capoeira practitioners and to the art itself’

Elizeu Zaleski feels like more people will become aware of who he is following his highlight reel KO of Sean Strickland, at UFC 224.

MMA: UFC 224- Zaleski dos Santos vs Strickland
Elizeu Zaleski
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Elizeu Zaleski should find himself on some pundits’ radars after UFC 224 following a stellar performance in Rio de Janeiro. His bout against prospect Sean Strickland ended with a first-round wheel kick KO, putting ‘Capoeira’ on a five-fight winning streak in the Octagon.

Bested only by Nicholas Dalby, via a split decision in his UFC debut, the Brazilian feels like he’s slowly, but surely, climbing the welterweight rankings. And with his credentials firmly established, he sees himself keeping a steady pace towards a future title shot.

“I’m on a nice streak. I believe I’ll be facing someone in the top 15 in my next fight.” Zaleski told Bloody Elbow. “I’m always trying to get closer to the top and eventually fight for the title. I believe I’ve been conquering my space little by little. Sometimes the recognition doesn’t come, but I have my feet on the ground. I believe I’m building a solid career. I’m looking to improve after every fight and my time to shine will come and so will the glory, sooner or later.”

With a moniker like ‘Capoeira’, it’s not difficult to figure out to which martial art the 31-year-old credits his highlight reel KO. Which, Zaleski explained, is not only a nod to the martial art, but to its practitioners, as well.

“That KO shot was a Capoeira move known as ‘armada’ or ‘meia lua sem mao’. All I can do is thank my martial art. Capoeira was the first martial art I ever trained and I still train it today. I’m very grateful. It was an homage to Capoeira practitioners and to the art itself. I’m here to represent it.”

Although Zaleski now finds himself on a five-fight winning streak, the athlete has yet to find his way on to a main card, something that may have hindered his growth in popularity among Brazilian fans. However, Elizeu believes things will change after the KO of Strickland. And he hinted that he still has a lot more moves to show off.

“Apart from my last fight, in São Paulo, and this one, all my other fights were outside of Brazil (Zaleski’s UFC debut also happened in the city of Goiania, Brazil). I think the Brazilian fans didn’t hear much about me, they didn’t know me. I believe they’ll know me better after my last fights. People will learn who is the real Elizeu Capoeira.”

Outside his Strickland win, Elizeu Zaleski has also defeated Omari Akhmedov, Keita Nakamura, Lyman Good and Max Griffin, during his current run. A strong series of opponents that should deserve the opportunity to perform in front of a prime-time audience.