With big things expected from both heavyweights in ONE Championship, they will meet at a crucial juncture of their burgeoning mixed martial arts careers in this showdown at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
One man will continue his rapid ascent, while the other will suffer their first setback in MMA, and this striker-versus-grappler contest is guaranteed to be a fascinating affair.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend “Buchecha” will bring his famed ground game to the Circle, but he’ll have to get past the South Korean’s heavy hands and avoid his knockout power before he can go to work.
With fight night rapidly approaching, Kang and Almeida spoke with ONE Commentator Michael “The Voice” Schiavello to share their final thoughts on the matchup.
After a first-round submission of kickboxer Anderson “Braddock” Silva in his MMA debut, 17-time BJJ World Champion “Buchecha” is looking forward to a tussle with another hard-hitting striker.
“[Kang] is a really dangerous guy – five wins with five knockouts,” the Brazilian told Schiavello.
“I know in ONE Championship there are no easy fights – I never expected one. I had a really tough fighter first time out. ‘Braddock’ is a really dangerous guy, and I’m happy because I got the victory.
“Kang is not different – he’s a really tough guy too. I knew I would have no easy path during my career at ONE, so it is what it is. It’s a big challenge. Let’s do it.”
Despite his dominant win over Silva, “Buchecha” knows his upcoming foe will bring a more well-rounded game into the Circle.
With that in mind, he’s preparing to employ his full arsenal against the South Korean on Friday night.
“I hope I can do the same, of course. But it’s not jiu-jitsu, it’s MMA, so I have to be ready for any scenario,” Almeida said.
“If it’s standing, I have to strike. I’m ready for that. If I have to wrestle, I train a lot of wrestling too. And if I have to use my jiu-jitsu, I know what to do.
“You have to be ready in all aspects, so I’m doing my best to be a complete fighter in every aspect of the game.”
On the other side, “Mighty Warrior” has gotten his MMA career off to a sensational start.
However, the Wang Ho athlete is not fazed by taking another bout while Bhullar prepares to defend his belt against Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin. Instead, he plans to use this matchup with the legendary “Buchecha” to cement his claim for the next shot at the gold.
“I don’t really mind about [not getting the World Title shot],” Kang said. “I just have another opportunity to prove myself and prove who I am, so I just think about that.”
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the game plans that each heavyweight will bring to this battle, but neither would write off competing in their rival’s field of expertise.
“Like I said, I’m ready to fight in any aspect of the fight,” the Brazilian said.
“If I can use my striking against him, I will. But if I have the opportunity to use my jiu-jitsu, I will do it too. It’s hard to predict how the fight will go, so that’s why I am ready for any scenario.”
For his part, Kang echoed that sentiment.
“I believe that I’ll know [how I’ll handle ‘Buchecha’s’ grappling ability] when I step into the Circle with him,” he said. “I trained really hard for his style. So I believe if I stick to the game plan, then I’ll do well.”
The result of this match will certainly have major implications for the heavyweight mixed martial arts division, but “Buchecha” is not looking too far ahead. For now, he’s facing a difficult task in Singapore.
“I think about today. I never think about tomorrow. I never like to make future plans. So my next commitment is to fight against him this Friday and take one step and one day at a time,” he said.
“After the fight, we can talk about that. Right now, my focus is 100 percent on this fight, and that’s my only concern.”
Kang, on the other hand, is confident that a victory would mark him out as the leading challenger for either Bhullar or Malykhin – and he has that goal firmly in mind.
“I was once considered one of the next World Title challengers,” he added. “I was in that picture, so after this win, I believe that I’ll be next.”