The global fan base knows that Adriano Moraes is a special mixed martial artist, but Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida says his fellow Brazilian is an equally impressive human being.
Moraes – who will defend his ONE Flyweight World Title against Yuya Wakamatsu at ONE X on Saturday, 26 March – trains alongside “Buchecha” at American Top Team in Florida, USA, and the pair have struck up a strong bond.
The BJJ legend is looking forward to watching that clash at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, especially after growing closer with Moraes.
He told ONE Championship:
“I met Adriano as soon as I joined American Top Team almost two years ago. Adriano is a guy that everyone loves, who is always laughing, always upbeat. If someone says they don’t like Adriano, I’m sure the problem is the person who doesn’t like him (laughs), because Adriano is a sensational person.
“He’s the World Champion [at ONE], and when I got to the gym, I saw about six or seven belts of his there. It was the first time I saw ONE’s belt up close. It got me a lot closer to him. I asked him a lot of questions, he told me how the event was.
“And he’s also a BJJ black belt, so we exchange a lot of information after training. He has a lot of good positions, and I’m learning a lot from him.”
“Buchecha” has kicked off his own MMA career with a perfect 2-0 start in ONE, but seven-time ONE Flyweight World Champion Moraes has been at the top of the sport for years.
With that in mind, the grappling icon is watching his friend and teammate closely – and taking note of the attributes that have made “Mikinho” so successful.
“His attitude and mentality are his most defining characteristics. No matter how difficult the situation is, he always tries to remain calm to change it. There was a fight in which he got knocked down, fell practically unconscious, and managed to compose himself and finish the fight. This is an example that shows his mental strength. He is not shaken in any situation.”
Buchecha Predicts Finish For Adriano Moraes At ONE X
It won’t be easy, as #2-ranked Wakamatsu owns some of the heaviest hands in the division and also showcased his ground game in his last outing.
With that in mind, “Buchecha” is expecting these flyweight stars to stage a riveting battle, and he’s backing his countryman to emerge victorious.
“I’m very excited. Wakamatsu is a very tough guy. He is a very good striker. He used his grappling a lot in the last fight, where he ended up breaking his hand. He fought before me, so I watched his entire fight, and I saw that it will be a very good fight for Adriano. What Wakamatsu likes to do is Adriano’s specialty, which is grappling. So, I’m sure it will be a great fight, but I believe that this belt will remain with Adriano.”
The 13-time BJJ World Champion knows “Mikinho” must dig deep to overcome his latest challenger, but he thinks his friend can navigate “Little Piranha’s” dangerous skill set and secure his eighth World Title victory with a submission.
Still, “Buchecha” doesn’t think Moraes will need to win this matchup on the ground. Instead, he thinks the reigning king has the arsenal to get the job done in any range.
The heavyweight added:
“[Wakamatsu] likes striking a lot and that can make the fight dangerous because, in striking, a blow can come in and, if it hits in the right place, it might be the end of the fight. But Adriano is a guy who moves very well and has a good reach, so it will be difficult for him to take a hit like that. I believe he will be superior both standing and on the ground.
“[Wakamatsu’s] ground is very good, but Adriano’s is much superior. I think the fight ends with a submission by Adriano in the third round. This fight won’t go until the end of the five rounds.”