Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is considered by many to be one of the greatest active jiu-jitsu fighter alive. And his recognition doesn’t come from nowhere: On June 3, the black belt won two gold medals in the IBJJF World Championships in California and tied Roger Gracie’s record of ten career titles. At 27 years of age, the Brazilian has competed since he was a white belt and has a wealth of experience on the mats. However, it was an injury that, according to the athlete, changed his competitive life.
In 2015, Buchecha badly injured his knee during a jiu-jitsu match, was forced to undergo surgery and had to stay away from the mats for ten months. And it was during this time that the expert in the gentle art ignited his motivation to go back to training and winning titles.
“My life has changed a lot since I gotten hurt”, Almeida told AG. Fight. “I’ve seen what it’s like to live my life without doing what I like, which is to train jiu-jitsu. So, I started giving a lot more value to these things, like being healthy and being able to train whenever I want, to be able to travel and to live in the sport. After the injury, a lot has changed. Today, I like to go to a camp and prepare myself, whereas before I was a little tired [of it].”
On July 23, “Buchecha” will return to the mats for a rematch against Roger Gracie in one of the sport’s most anticipated fights. And despite having tied his rival’s record, the Brazilian ensures that, in his opinion, the veteran is still the biggest name in sports jiu-jitsu.
“Roger certainly is the greatest legend of our sport”, Almeida said. “When I started to train jiu-jitsu, he was already the Roger Gracie we know, competing in the absolute. I remember him fighting [Ronaldo] Jacaré… So, my idol from the start was Roger and having the opportunity to fight him again is something incredible.”
However, despite the praise, “Buchecha” predicted a very different fight from when they met at Metamoris in 2012. The first meeting between Gracie and Almeida ended in a draw after 20 minutes.
“I believe that this will be a very different fight”, Almeida said. “It’s been a long time; I’ve won titles, my body has changed, I have more experience, I’m curious to know how it is because Roger certainly never stopped training. It’s Roger Gracie. I’m also curious to see how this fight will unfold.”
The two athletes will meet during Gracie Pro Jiu-Jitsu, an event that will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 23.