Fans and fellow fighters alike are already looking to match “Buchecha” against the division’s elite after he took out dangerous South Korean “Mighty Warrior” Kang Ji Won at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS last Friday.
However, the humble Brazilian is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
“It feels great because it was a big challenge, just like Anderson [“Braddock” Silva] in the first fight,” he says.
“Both of them have lots of experience. For sure now, I feel like I’m on the right path. But I’m still just 2-0 in MMA, just two fights. I’ve had five minutes of [Circle] time. That’s not much, right? So I need a lot of experience. To fight more and to learn the game.
“I’m not rushing. I’m thinking step by step, day by day. And when I’m in the game, enjoy the ride.”
Kang owned a perfect 5-0 slate heading into Friday’s contest, with all five wins coming via first-round knockout. That success led ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan “Singh” Bhullar to proclaim the South Korean deserved a shot at the belt.
But “Buchecha” completely neutralized “Mighty Warrior’s” one-punch knockout threat and submitted him in the opening round.
In the process, the 17-time BJJ World Champion showcased his legendary grappling skills – but also his evolving all-around MMA game.
“It was just perfect. I’m glad I could use my jiu-jitsu, my striking was really good, and everything worked out really well,” Almeida says.
“The game plan worked really well. I knew he was a really dangerous opponent – five fights and five knockouts. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy challenge for me, but that’s what drives me.”
“Buchecha” looked comfortable as the heavyweights initially moved around on the feet and then hit a perfectly timed double-leg takedown that brought Kang to the mat.
From there, it was one-way traffic. The American Top Team man swarmed the South Korean with punches before taking his back when “Mighty Warrior” tried to work up to his feet.
Almeida then sealed the deal with a tight rear-naked choke, and he was thrilled by the way he managed to move through the ranges en route to victory.
“Once I got in the cage, I think the punches helped me to progress my jiu-jitsu, to move forward. I think it was just a good night because I didn’t rush anything. I didn’t make any mistakes,” he offers.
“I’m training a lot. I’m not scared to be on my feet, because I think, as an MMA fighter, you have to be comfortable in every aspect of the fight. So I was really comfortable on my feet. I thought we would strike more, but I saw the opportunity to take him down, and I did.
“That’s the magic of this sport. You have to think fast and mix everything. It’s mixed martial arts.”
But for his part, Almeida is not focusing on any particular opponent or looking to jump the line for a World Title shot.
His top priority is continuing to develop his MMA skill set in the gym – and putting that into practice inside the Circle.
“I don’t like to think too much about one name because it keeps changing a lot. So I just keep training to keep evolving, and that’s my goal now. Stoic mindset – let’s get better and be ready for the next one, whoever it is,” he says.
“I think [Malykhin] is a huge name in the organization and one of the best in the world. If I keep winning, eventually, we’re going to fight. Just like anyone who keeps a good winning streak, we’re going to fight each other sooner or later.
“But like I said, I’m still learning. I’m still just two fights in. I’m in no rush to fight him – or anyone. Just little by little, step by step, day by day.”
For now, “Buchecha” is ready for a little rest and relaxation.
The Brazilian will take a well-earned break in his homeland during the holiday season before he resumes work at ATT in Florida, USA, to prepare for a busy schedule.
“Right now, I’m going to take a vacation. Since last December, I didn’t rest. I did like five camps, one after the other, without resting. Now I’m going to Brazil to see my family because I haven’t seen them in a while,” Almeida adds.
“So I’m going to spend Christmas with them, reset my mind, and come back to train for more. In 2022, I hope I can get way more fights than this year.”