Building ‘Buchecha’ – How Marcus Almeida Forged His Legendary Grappling Game

Buchecha controls Kang Ji Won on the canvas at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS.

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida became the greatest competitor in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu history with a relentless style – and he’s bringing that same intensity to mixed martial arts.

Using the principles that helped him become a 17-time BJJ World Champion, Almeida is now looking to extend his perfect 4-0 MMA record against “Reug Reug” Oumar Kane in their heavyweight clash at ONE Fight Night 13: Allazov vs. Grigorian on Prime Video.

It’s been a dream start in MMA for the Brazilian icon, who’s finished all four of his opponents in the first round and plans to once again push the pace against Senegalese wrestling star “Reug Reug.”

This has been the 33-year-old’s mindset throughout his combat sports career, as he was always aggressive in his days as an elite grappling competitor.

Ahead of his high-profile matchup in U.S. primetime this Friday, August 4, “Buchecha” explained:

“This explosive game of always moving forward started early on when I was a [BJJ] blue belt, but of course, it got better as I gained experience. And still today, I’m developing this game of moving forward, always looking for the submission.”

A lot goes into developing an athlete’s unique style, from their physical stature and personality to the superstars they hope to emulate.

Almeida’s strength and speed for his size helped him find his own game, but he was also influenced by many of the greats in the sport of BJJ, as well as those who transitioned well to MMA.

He recalled:

“I always really enjoyed watching Leo Vieira, who is my master. Marcelo Garcia, Roger Gracie, Xande Ribeiro, Ronaldo Jacaré, and Fernando Terere were other references. Those were the ones I watched the most when I started jiu-jitsu.

“Ricardo Arona is a guy I’ve always been a big fan of. I always enjoyed watching him because of his aggressive fighting style, with very good physical conditioning and a forward-moving game. I’ve always been inspired by that type of fighter. I’ve always been a fan of his, and I’ve tried to take a bit of that game to apply to mine.”

‘Buchecha’ Thinks BJJ And Wrestling Is The Winning MMA Combination

One area often cited as a weak point of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – especially for those who move into mixed martial arts – is the takedown game.

However, that’s not an issue for Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida. The Brazilian star has always been known for actively pursuing top position with his aggressive wrestling, and that strategy paid off as he became the most accomplished BJJ practitioner of all time.

“Buchecha” realized early that wrestling would be a crucial element of his skill set, and it set him up for success when made the switch to MMA in 2021:

“I felt a need in the jiu-jitsu days to be good at the takedown game. I remember that fighters who were good at judo had an advantage because they managed to get ahead in fights. I only trained [a little bit of] judo as a child and realized that wouldn’t be an advantage if I went back. That’s why I chose to train in wrestling.

“I adapted it, doing wrestling with a gi, and that improved my takedown game a lot. I managed to adapt this wrestling game very well with the gi with grips. That’s where my game improved a lot, both in the gi and no-gi. And today I train a lot more wrestling because of MMA.”

For Almeida, adding wrestling to his elite BJJ has created the perfect blend for his style. It was nearly impossible to stop on the competition mats, and it’s helped him become the fastest-rising heavyweight in the all-around sport of MMA.

Now set to face an athletic wrestler in Oumar Kane this Friday, “Buchecha” must be at his best to get the match to the ground, where he is most proficient.

And while he might not have the edge in a straight takedown shootout, the American Top Team representative knows that the integration of new techniques into his existing arsenal will be the biggest factor.

He added:

“With this combination of jiu-jitsu and wrestling, I was able to adapt very well to be able to connect my jiu-jitsu positions. And now in MMA even more so.

“It’s not just connecting, but adapting wrestling to be able to use my jiu-jitsu. It’s a very important combination.”

More in Features

Jimmy Vienot walks to the Circle
Luke Lessei Eddie Abasolo ONE Fight Night 19 29
Nong O Hama Nico Carrillo ONE Friday Fights 46 2
Bampara Kouyate Shakir Al Tekreeti ONE Fight Night 15 45
Jozef_Chen hero 1200x1165
Ok Rae Yoon Lowen Tynanes ONE Fight Night 10 66
Rodtang Jitmuangnon Denis Puric ONE 167 142
Rodtang Jitmuangnon
Tawanchai PK Saenchai Jo Nattawut ONE 167 78
Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II faceoff
Rodtang Jitmuangnon Edgar Tabares ONE Fight Night 10 36
Johan Ghazali Edgar Tabares ONE Fight Night 17 21