ONE heavyweight MMA phenom and 17-time jiu-jitsu world champion Marcus 'Buchecha' Almeida is a man not to be trifled with on the ground. This man has 138 wins in grappling competitions with 72 submissions. What's even crazier is that he has only lost 14 times and has only been submitted four times.
Considering the level of grapplers he's locked horns with on the mats, these numbers are nothing short of legendary. No wonder many fans, fighters and analysts consider him to be the most accomplished grappling competitor of all time.
Amongst Almeida's accomplishments in jiu-jitsu is clinching the International Brazilian jiu-jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World Championship absolute open-weight gold medal six times. The Brazilian phenom also broke the record of the great Roger Gracie in absolute gold medals at the prestigious ‘Mundial’ tournaments.
Almeida's pace, agility and speed are like that of a lightweight fighter. His massive heavyweight frame belies his athletic prowess. It just doesn't make sense for a fighter of that size to be moving as fast and agile as that.
Now that he has moved on to MMA, it's a big new world for 'Buchecha' to conquer. He is taking his journey as carefully and methodically as possible. Stopping all three of his opponents inside the first round, the jiu-jitsu master has fully translated his grappling genius into his MMA arsenal.
At ONE on Prime Video 1 on August 26, 'Buchecha' will face his toughest challenge yet in the form of former ONE interim world title challenger Kirill Grishenko. If he gets past Grishenko in the same dominant fashion he did against his other three opponents inside the circle, Almeida might be bound for gold in the near future.
It seems that 'Buchecha' is primed for MMA stardom if he plays his cards right. He has all the ingredients needed to make it big in this sport. Today, we analyze three solid reasons why 'Buchecha' can be the next big thing in MMA.
#3. 'Buchecha' trains in two of the best MMA gyms today
One of the best aspects of how Almeida transitioned to MMA from jiu-jitsu is his tremendous respect for the game. He didn't try to blast into competition overconfident with his undeniable grappling genius. The 17-time jiu-jitsu world champion saw himself as a whitebelt in MMA and took to the sport as a beginner
Part of his careful transition to cagefighting was his decision to train under two of the best MMA teams in the sport today: American Top Team (ATT) in Coconut Creek, Florida, and American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California. This is on top of his original grappling team Checkmat and his affiliation with one of Asia's top MMA teams, Evolve MMA in Singapore.
Between AKA and ATT, the two powerhouse gyms have produced multiple world champions across different organizations, including Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, and Glover Teixeira. The two teams have also housed ONE world champions Adriano Moraes and Arjan Bhullar, just to name a few.
Surrounding himself with world-class talent and veteran minds in the sport will definitely give 'Buchecha' the tools needed to become an MMA world champion one day. His humility and hunger to always improve and learn make him such a remarkable MMA fighter, considering that he is already a legend in submission grappling.
#2. 'Buchecha' is a marketing goldmine
There is a reason why 'Buchecha' has more social media followers than most of the former jiu-jitsu world champions fighting in MMA right now. From a marketability standpoint, Almeida is a goldmine. He has the skill, appeal, and legendary status to get any casual MMA fan tuning in.
Unlike his famous jiu-jitsu rival, the dangerous middleweight Rodolfo Vieira, 'Buchecha' can speak fluent English, which means he can easily connect with his fans across the globe.
Add that to his status as the most accomplished jiu-jitsu fighter of all time, then you have the male heavyweight equivalent of someone like Ronda Rousey.
ONE struck gold with their signing of Almeida as they pushed him into the main card slowly but surely. At the same time, they frame the narrative around him quite well. He is a mythical grappling specialist who is now taking the sport by storm.
Once he fights Grinshenko at ONE on Prime Video 1, a larger US audience will get to see Almeida shine, which will only add to his growing star power.
#1. 'Buchecha' is a 17-time jiu-jitsu world champion
Make no mistake, the ultimate reason why Almeida could become the next big thing in MMA will always be the tools that first brought him to the dance; his mastery of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Not many jiu-jitsu world champions have worn MMA gold but none have achieved the same level of success 'Buchecha' had in grappling alone.
Under the tutelage of MMA veterans and ONE Championship seeing him as a major player in the heavyweight ranks, sky's the limit for the Brazilian icon. We see Almeida's MMA game to eventually resemble that of Khabib Nurmagomedov, the perfect use of strikes to complement his debilitating ground skills. Once he perfects that formula, nothing will be able to stop him.