Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida has been flawless since transitioning to mixed martial arts, and the best heavyweights in the world are keeping their eyes on his progress.
Both men are highly impressed with the 17-time BJJ World Champion and expect big things in the future – including a potential showdown for the heavyweight MMA gold.
Here’s what Bhullar and Malykhin had to say about the Brazilian before he goes for his third consecutive first-round submission victory at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Arjan Bhullar: ‘He’s A Winner, And He’s Been Winning A Long Time’
Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan “Singh” Bhullar knows how to successfully transition from one sport to another.
The former Commonwealth Games Wrestling Gold Medallist joined the famous AKA camp in California when he moved into MMA, and it paid major dividends.
Now, Bhullar is seeing “Buchecha” on a similar trajectory at American Top Team in Florida and thinks he is building his career in the right way.
The Canadian-Indian said:
“‘Buchecha’ is coming along. Even in jiu-jitsu, it was MMA-friendly jiu-jitsu where he liked his takedowns. He wasn’t a pulling guard type of guy. He’s a physical guy. So then coming into MMA, he’s hooked up with a good team with ATT.
“It’ll take time for him, but he’s coming along. He started to really mix his strikes into his takedowns and [in] every fight, he is looking more and more comfortable. It’s good to see.”
Bhullar won’t make any bold predictions about where “Buchecha” might end up, but he also won’t underestimate the decorated ground specialist.
He sees a man who’s building the foundation for a strong future in MMA, and he would be intrigued by a head-to-head battle if the Brazilian icon proves deserving.
“This is MMA. He’s only a few fights in and unproven in my opinion. So, it remains to be seen [whether he’s the best grappler in the sport]. But if you’re looking at just accolades, a resume based on jiu-jitsu, yes, absolutely. Let’s see if he’s able to duplicate that in the world of MMA.
“He’s a winner – he’s been winning for a long time – and a great athlete. That would definitely be a fight that interests me and gets me excited.”
Anatoly Malykhin: ‘He’s One Of The Best BJJ Fighters In The World’
ONE Interim Heavyweight World Champion Anatoly Malykhin also has Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida on his radar.
The Russian athlete keeps a close eye on his division and sees “Buchecha” as a likely adversary in the future – though he’s admittedly grown fond of the down-to-earth grappler ever since they crossed paths at his gym in Thailand.
“I had not been following his career in BJJ, but since he has joined ONE, I started paying attention because I always look at new talent as potential opponents. I do think he’s one of the best BJJ fighters in the world, a multiple-time World Champion. He is strong, and he has won against some of the top guys in ONE.
“I just met him. He was in Phuket. He came to the camp I am training at. He probably wanted to spy on my training, but he had no luck – the training had finished by the time he arrived. But we met each other, and he made a good first impression on me. He looks like an open, kindhearted guy. We follow each other on Instagram now.”
As much as “Sladkiy” admires the Brazilian on a personal level, he would not hesitate to square off inside the Circle.
But while “Buchecha” has recorded a pair of dominant submission victories since switching to MMA, the interim king believes the former BJJ star needs a few more tests before stepping up to challenge for gold.
Once that happens – and if Almeida can overcome well-rounded opponents – the Russian would happily accept a matchup against arguably the leading heavyweight submission specialist on the planet.
“We need to see him fighting a top-class grappler or wrestler. He has not faced anyone with a good takedown defense. So far, his opponents have been mainly good strikers (Kang Ji Won and Anderson “Braddock” Silva).
“Amir Aliakbari and [Kirill] Grishenko would be good tests. We need to see someone with good takedown defense. I want to see how he could combine his striking and grappling skills, if he can’t take an opponent [to the ground]. Let’s see if his stamina would be ok, too.
“I wish him to continue having a winning streak until he meets me in the ring. I will fight to unify the belts soon, so let’s see how soon ‘Buchecha’ and I can meet. You can send me the contract any time, I am ready.”