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Meeting Cosmo Alexandre, you are struck by his gentle, unassuming manner, and engaging smile. But a look at his bouts on YouTube makes it very clear – you do not want to meet Cosmo Alexandre in the ring.

Highlight videos, one after another, show Alexandre striking with devastating impact, dropping opponents to the canvas with his first punch, pummeling them with kicks and knees, and winning fights by knockouts in as little as 20 seconds. 

“He’s modest,” said Evolution MMA owner Keith Rummel. “In the Muay Thai world, he’s like Michael Jordan. He doesn’t like to brag about his record.” Apparently, he lets his fists do the talking, especially since his first language is Portugese. Alexandre speaks good English, along with some Thai and Spanish, all picked up in his travels around the world in pursuit of his calling.

Alexandre has a new position as head Muay Thai/kickboxing coach at Evolution. MMA stands for “mixed martial arts,” and while that is in itself a discipline and style of fighting, it also sums up Alexandre.

The native of Brazil is a seven-time world champion in three separate combat sports – Muay Thai, kickboxing and MMA. Now 37, which makes him something of an elder statesman in the world of martial arts fighting, Alexandre still fights professionally, but is devoting more of his energies to training other fighters.

This includes both local amateurs here in Naples, at the Evolution gym on Trade Center Way in north Naples, and some of the top martial artists in the world. Alexandre recently returned from training longtime UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Champion Anderson Silva and former UFC Champion Cris Cyborg.

In Naples, his students include youngsters with their ages in single digits, and seniors up to age 73. Most fall into the 25 to 50 age range though, according to Rummel.

“Eighty percent of our members are regular people who want to get in shape and learn some self-defense skills. I was head striking coach until Cosmo came here,” said Rummel. “Now I’m the assistant.” Rummel met Alexandre in 2010 when he was still fighting on the amateur circuit, when he engaged the Brazilian for a training session.

“He beat me up for an hour, and I realized I couldn’t compete at that level,” he said.

When one thinks of sports and Brazil, the two that come to mind are Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or BJJ, and soccer. Alexandre initially took up martial arts as a training regimen for playing soccer but fell in love with the Muay Thai style of fighting and worked to excel. The Evolution gym also offers BJJ, under head coach Orlando Castillo, who is also an active competitor in his sport.

“I don’t like to lose,” said Alexandre, asked what makes him a champion-caliber fighter. “I don’t want to be just one more guy. So I work hard.”

“He’s physically gifted, but he also has an incredible work ethic, and he’s smart,” said Rummel.

“I have over 100 fights, and my face is not beat up,” said Alexandre, in the closest he came to boasting. Each of the styles in which he competes, and now trains, has differing rules which must be followed.

In MMA, for example, when an opponent goes down, “you jump on him” and keep pummeling away. In Muay Thai, the ref calls an eight count. Kickboxing allows no elbow strikes or clinches, which are part of the other fighting forms’ repertoires.

What he does, said Alexandre, is a sport, but unlike soccer or American football, don’t call it a game.

“In the ring, it’s not a game,” it’s a fight, he said. “We’re not playing.”

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