Proven grappling champ Marcus Almeida fully embraces MMA: ‘It’s a new chapter in my life’

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Proven grappling champ Marcus Almeida fully embraces MMA: ‘It’s a new chapter in my life’
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  • Marcus Almeida
    Jiu-Jitsu fighter

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – Marcus Almeida has a new mountain to conquer.

“Buchecha,” one of the greatest and most accomplished grapplers in the history of sport jiu-jitsu, said goodbye to the mat as he now finds himself competing in the cage. Almeida (1-0) successfully transitioned to MMA in September, winning his professional debut by first-round submission under the ONE Championship banner.

It was the start of a new career as Almeida intends to invest all his efforts in MMA and no longer jiu-jitsu.

“It was amazing,” Almeida recalled fighting MMA for the first time when speaking with MMA Junkie. “To be honest, I thought I was going to be more nervous about it. Of course I was really excited, but I kept calm, and I stuck to the game plan. … I felt great, and it was better than my expectations. I think I got addicted to it, so that’s why I’m fighting again really soon. I don’t see myself leaving this sport anytime soon.”

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Almeida returns to the cage Dec. 3 at “ONE Championship: Winter Warriors.” He’s scheduled to face unbeaten heavyweight Ji Won Kang (5-0).

The 31-year-old is not fully closing the door on grappling but has no interest in competing. He believes he’s done it all in the world of jiu-jitsu and has nothing else to prove.

Almeida is eager to build a legacy in MMA, just as he did in grappling.

“I always had in my head that a real fighter always tests himself, and I want to test myself,” Almeida explained regarding his switch to MMA. “That’s what fighting is about. I test myself in the gi, and I got like 13 world titles as black belt and then I test myself no-gi, and I won two ADCC titles, which is kind of like the Olympics of grappling.

“So now I want to test myself in MMA. I did my first fight and of course I’m not done. I like it. It’s a new game. Since my last world championship, I don’t have the fire, the desire anymore to go through a camp with the gi. To win 14th time, 15th time, I think that’s not going to make a difference in my legacy.

“I proved myself already, so it’s time for a new challenge. It’s time to move on. It’s a new chapter of my life. I’m really excited about it, and it feels like a brand new beginning. It’s the same feeling when I got my black belt in 2010. I wanted to prove myself and test myself against the best. It’s a similar feeling I’m having right now in MMA.”