Photo via ONE Championship PR

Buchecha discusses Kang Ji Won clash at ONE: Winter Warriors

Marcus Buchecha Almeida tests skills against Kang Ji Won on December 3rd at ONE: Winter Warriors. This high-stakes heavyweight bout goes down at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

I spoke with Buchecha ahead of this sophomore ONE Championship contest. Excerpts from our recent chat are below.


Having his druthers in getting a quick bout turnaround for early December inside the Circle

“The fight was supposed to be for the big card (ONE X). But then the card changed, the ten-year anniversary one. But I’m glad they kept the smaller shows and I’m happy I got a chance to stay on one of those. Because I’m training so hard. I didn’t want to wait two or three more months to fight. So I’m really happy about that.”

Buchecha’s assessment of his debut MMA performance overall

“It was something I was training a lot. Getting the submission, it’s something that I train a lot. So it’s not really usual in MMA. You see more rear naked chokes, those kind of chokes. It’s something that I train a lot. It’s really on my game. So I think it’s something you guys maybe will see me doing again in the future.”

Buchecha’s first time utilizing strikes in a competitive combat context

“Yeah, because Asian rules are different. So for grapplers, it’s really good when we’re able to use our knees on the ground. Just like you said (Mark) Coleman and Ricardo Arona, they use really well. It’s something I had in my mind, something that I train. Because most of my training partners, they fight on shows in America. So they don’t use it (grounded knees) too much because they are not allowed to use. I make sure that I put that in my game. Always tried to remember that I can use that. So I always try to remember during sparring sessions, always use those knees. Because it’s a really powerful weapon.”

Some of the adjustments Buchecha has made in training to prepare for fighting under the global ruleset

“I’m the only heavyweight at American Top Team that fights at ONE. Of course we have like a couple of other guys but heavyweight, I’m the only one. So I don’t have to worry about fighting a teammate anytime soon. So that’s really good for me.”

ONE: Winter Warriors

His avid training partner being Antonio Carlos Jr and Shoeface‘s recent PFL championship win

“It was really good. When you see a friend winning such a big title, it’s something amazing. I’m glad I could be a part of that, watching my friend winning. Such a huge thing for him, for his career. It’s really a big motivation for me as well. Because I saw how hard he trained and we live together. So I could be part of that day by day, training with him, learning. So it was a big motivation for me. He came from jiu-jitsu. He didn’t come from striking. So he’s a jiu-jitsu fighter. And he did it. So for me, it’s a really great example to look up to.”

The feelings competing on cards with fellow Evolve MMA fighters like Christian Lee last time. This as he readies to share a space on this upcoming event with Ritu Phogat

“Just like you said, for me it’s such a pleasure. Such an honor to represent such great teams as Evolve MMA and American Top Team. Those teams support me so much and I’m really happy to carry the flag. It’s always good when we have teammates fighting on the same card. It’s always something that’s a real incentive. So we watch each other. It’s always good when you see your teammates winning. So it’s always a good day.”

Buchecha’s work at American Top Team with some heavyweight bodies like Marcelo Golm

“Steve Mocco is one of my coaches, my wrestling coach. I train a lot with him. Marcelo Golm, he is one of my main training partners. Marcos Rogério Pezao (de Lima) just had a huge win in UFC this weekend. Said Sowma from Bellator too. Philipe Lins from UFC…So I have a lot of heavyweights to train with me, good guys… So it’s always good to have those guys, training with them a lot. It’s been a great opportunity for me to learn and evolve. Get better every day.”

ONE Championship

Buchecha usurping Roger Gracie’s Jiu Jitsu-based Guinness record and if Almeida has ever picked the former ONE Championship titleholder’s brain on nuances within the jiu-jitsu to mixed martial arts crossover

“Every time when I see him, we talk a lot about it. I don’t remember when was the last time that we saw each other. But I remember when I signed with ONE, what he said was it was really the best choice that I ever made because the event is amazing. He said so much good things about the event, about Chatri (Sityodtong) himself. So it was good to hear his thoughts on the event, before and right after I signed. It was good.”

Buchecha continued, “He told me I would do good with my jiu-jitsu there. Things like that. So it was pretty cool to hear from him because he is a world champion too. He is such a legend in the sport. Like you said, he fought on ONE Championship and he got a belt there. So it was great.”

Buchecha’s thoughts on the main stylistic proclivities of upcoming opponent Kang Ji Won

“He is such a tough guy. Undefeated, he had huge wins in his last fights. So I know it’s not gonna be an easy fight, an easy challenge. I had a couple of fights to do before but other opponents got hurt. Got an injury and somehow they drop out of the fight. He was one of the guys in the division that wants to fight. Because it’s been a while since his last fight. I think it was in August. So he’s hungry, me too, and we both wanna get our wins. So sooner or later, we would fight each other.”

Buchecha continued, “It is what it is. In the division, there is no easy fights. Just tough fights. I knew it would be like that. Because now I think one of the divisions with the biggest names in ONE Championship is the heavyweight division. So it’s stacked with huge names and I’m just happy to be part of that. To be one of those big names. I want to make sure that I do good. So I’m doing everything I can to go there, perform, and get a victory.”

The Kang Ji Won bout being previously canceled and if there’s any game-planning utility to that rescheduling

“For sure. Because I signed the agreement with him and I was training a couple of weeks to fight him. So he’s a southpaw, a striker. So I was training for him for a long time and then he got hurt. I got a message that he wouldn’t fight. Then I didn’t really know who I was fighting. So it was hard for a while because you’re training for a southpaw. Then they change it for another guy. At the end of the day, I said I’m gonna train for myself. I’m gonna train to get better, to evolve. So I’m gonna forget my opponent and I just kept training. It just kept getting better. Getting better every day and that’s what I did. That’s what I did since then.”

Marcus Almeida

If this upcoming Buchecha bout with Kang Ji Won could be a title eliminator

“No, actually everybody asked me that. Because like you said, he’s a name that was about to go to fight for the title. Of course, if I get a win over him, a lot of people would look at me with different eyes. But being honest, I don’t think about that. My only worry right now, my only concern is him. It’s him. So my only focus is to fight him and do my best there. I don’t like to think too much about the future. So I’m just thinking about him right now. Just about tomorrow, not the days ahead.”

Thoughts on American Top Team being so featured on AEW and the idea of Buchecha getting into pro wrestling

“Yeah, man it’s amazing. I saw all the guys having a lot of fun doing that. Especially Junior Dos Santos. He is such a big name in this sport, in MMA. He was having a lot of fun. So it’s good to see my teammates, my friends doing that. Having fun. So why not? Maybe in the future to be part of that too. So who knows?”

Buchecha continued, “To get on this level, I need to perform first in MMA. That’s the welcoming invitation. So if I don’t do good in my sport, I think it makes no sense to get an invitation to do this. So I have to worry about this first because those things can be future. Things that are gonna come with the victories along the way.”

Parting thoughts for Buchecha

“Just would like to thank everyone for the support. Everyone who was with me for this fight. Of course, my teammates, all the jiu-jitsu people that was behind me. So we like to appreciate everyone for the support and let’s do this again… Really excited. Can’t wait. Let’s do it.”

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