Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida wanted to be a soccer star, but says he “didn’t have much talent”

BJJ legend Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida admitted that he was also seduced by the allure of the football field growing up. Soccer, after all, is still the most popular sport in his native country of Brazil.

Good thing he wasn’t very good at it, and shifted his focus on becoming one of the best grapplers in the world instead. ‘Buchecha’ told ONE Championship about his early aspirations as a kid growing up in Santos, Sao Paulo.

Honestly I don’t remember. I just remember that I wanted to be a soccer player, like every child in Brazil. But I didn’t have much talent for it. When I was 12 or 13 I discovered jiu-jitsu, but it wasn’t until I was 15 that I fell in love with jiu-jitsu. And after I fell in love with the sport, I decided I wanted to be a fighter and make a living from the sport.”

Transitioning from soccer to jiu-jitsu turned out to be the best decision Marcus Almeida has ever made. The 32-year-old ground savant went on to become one of the most decorated jiu-jitsu athletes in the world, with a total of 138 BJJ wins to his name.

After accomplishing everything there is to in the sport of BJJ, Buchecha made another sound decision by signing with ONE Championship in 2020, to begin his shift to mixed martial arts.

The Brazilian returns to action on ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II, as he faces Kirill Grishenko in a highly-anticipated heavyweight clash. The entire card will be broadcast live in U.S. primetime from Singapore Indoor Stadium on August 26.

Buchecha to face his stiffest challenge yet

Marcus Almeida didn’t need much of a feeling-out process in his MMA debut against Anderson Da Silva last year.

Almeida proved that the debut win was no fluke, dispatching Kang Ji Won with a rear-naked choke and Simon Carson via some vicious ground and pound in his next two bouts.

All three of his wins have come in less than one round. If he gets his hand raised against a tough opponent like Kirill Grishenko, Buchecha could vault his name among the top contenders for the ONE heavyweight title.

Grishenko was undefeated in his first five fights but fell short against Anatoliy Malykhin for the ONE interim heavyweight world title last February. The Belarusian standout possesses high-level Greco-Roman wrestling and could pose a serious threat to the BJJ ace.

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