Today, it is commonly stated that MMA is best for fighting; and MMA combat is the ultimate proving ground.
Capoeira Carioca looks nothing like MMA; hence, Capoeira Carioca is not good for combat. Or is it?
The problem lies in the assumption that there is only one 'combat' - the MMA combat. But that is not true. The way combat works varies greatly with the situation. Some people say with 'rules', but this word is both too narrow and overused - the proper term is situation.
Situation includes all factors that influence the combat - rules, environment, weapons, clothing, weather, etc.
MMA is best for MMA situation - situation of two trained athletes fighting without external interference, without weapons, with groundfighting allowed, on a soft floor and rules prohibiting killing or maiming the opponent (and also headbutts and kicking a downed opponent).
All the above factors of MMA situation shape the MMA fighting. (Imagine, for example, if MMA was fought on a stone pavement. Naturally, throwing the opponent onto his head would be much more important part of the game then it is now).
Now, let us look at the combat situation Capoeira Carioca was used in, and evolved for: Multiple opponents in mass battles, weapons, fought on stone pavement, with kicking and stomping on the downed opponent allowed and probably popular.
(Note that I don't say 'no rules'; just a different situation)
In this situation, Carioca excelled; its takedown techniques (rasteira, cabeçada) allowed you to shoot the opponent to the ground quickly and move on; its aversion to clinching and grappling helped avoid getting tied with one opponent and getting attacked (stabbed) by the other; its fast footwork allowed to quickly get it, strike, and get out.
Now I do not say this is 'better' than MMA. It is just a different situation. Take Carioca, combat system designed for the above situation, into a MMA ring; and get quickly taken down and grappled into submission.
However, it works the other way too: Take MMA into a mass battle involving straight razors, and get your jugular ripped in no time.
The true answer is that you should train a martial art that is suitable for your specific situation. If your hypothetic fight resembles a MMA bout (and I don't mean this disparagingly), train MMA. If your hypothetic fight resembles a mass street battle, train Carioca.
I personally like to supplement Carioca techniques and skills with a few grappling/clinching techniques; mostly used when the opponent manages to grab you, with the goal to knock him out quickly and escape. (Without gouging his eyes or tearing his ears; this is another part of most current situations - the law).
Are you going to see this in MMA anytime soon? Probably not. Will it work in the situation I am developing it for? I think it will.
BTW: A great defence against a double leg takedown is to cut opponent's neck with a straight razor. Just because you cannot apply it in a MMA doesn't make it any less effective. It just shows you why Carioca never developed anything like modern double leg takedown; instead relying on cabeçadas and rasteiras.
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