After waiting years for the right opportunity to make the switch, “Buchecha” is unsurprisingly thrilled about his successful debut in the all-encompassing sport.
“I’m feeling great. I think it was a perfect night for me,” he says. “I could use my submissions and my jiu-jitsu. I’m so happy right now.”
Still, the 17-time BJJ World Champion is staying grounded and won’t get carried away after just one outing on the global stage.
He’s not the type to start making brash callouts to the heavyweight division’s top dogs, preferring to take things one step at a time.
“I don’t think about [whether I made a statement]. I came here to get the job done and I did it, so I’m not really thinking of the future like that,” Almeida says.
“My head was thinking about the debut. And now my next step is thinking about my next fight. I think I need to learn how to walk before I can run, so that’s what I want to do.”
For “Buchecha,” the most important thing was to get the result with the eyes of the world watching. His grappling resume meant he stepped into MMA with high expectations – and with his opponents knowing exactly what to expect.
But even with all that pressure, the Brazilian navigated his way around a dangerous striker in Silva and got the action to the canvas unscathed.
“I’m not saying [the fight] was easy, but I think the game plan worked really well,” Almeida offers.
“I’m training a lot, and my boxing is getting much better. But I knew if I tried to strike with him, the fight would end in a very different way because he’s a legend in kickboxing and much better than me at striking.
“That’s why I avoided the striking game against him and tried to use my best game – and that’s what I did.”
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After needing less than three minutes to dispatch his opponent, “Buchecha” is eager to build on his momentum and wants to get back into the Circle before the end of this year.
“5 December [ONE X] is a big one coming up, so I want to be a part of that,” he says. “Let’s do it.”
For now, though, it’ll be a few days of rest and relaxation for the 31-year-old before he gets back to some serious training at the famed American Top Team.
Being surrounded by elite coaches and some of the world’s top fighters at the Florida-based gym has given “Buchecha” even more motivation to continue his progression, along with the confidence that he can make big strides in mixed martial arts.
“All the guys [at American Top Team] helped me so much since day one when I got there. They have treated me as part of the team since day one,” he says.
“I was training every day with [legendary fighters], and I was feeling ready. Because if I can train with these guys and do well, I know I’m doing good. The confidence that the training gave to me was something unbelievable.”
It is clear that “Buchecha” is focused on adding to his skill set, but he is also determined to showcase his mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – and prove its efficacy on the global stage.
“When I fight, I know I’m carrying the jiu-jitsu flag with me,” he adds.
“And I carry our whole community. That’s why I have a lot of support from the BJJ community, so that’s really great for me.”