2021 was a good year for Marcus Almeida. He got his MMA career off to an ideal start with two first round submission wins form his first two fights.

After excelling as a grappler for more than a decade ‘Buchecha’ made the transition to MMA look effortless. So it is easy to see why the Brazilian feels he is on ‘the right track’,

“My 2021 in MMA was perfect. I have nothing to complain about. I had two fights, I got two wins in the first round, so it was really good because I felt I’m on the right track.”

He is set to compete on Friday against another decorated BJJ black belt. Almeida faces Hugo Cunha at ONE 157 in a battle between two Brazilians with very similar skillsets.

Marcus Almeida submits Kang Ji Won at ONE: 'Winter Warriors' at the Singapore Indoor Stadium

Extremely confident

He was initially supposed to face Oumar Kane but the fight was postponed and a replacement opponent found. Having faced two striking specialists he now finds himself going up against a fellow grappler but Almeida sounds extremely confident,

“The training is perfect, I can see that I am improving daily, and I hope that 2022 will be even better.”

This time last year he was yet to make his MMA debut. But Almeida burst onto the scene with two ONE Championship wins in the space of four months and neither fight lasted longer than three minutes.

It means we have not seen that much of him inside the cage but what he has done so far is extremely impressive. Almeida says beating two fighters with several highlight reel finishes on their records was a real confidence boost,

“Getting victories over athletes of this caliber was very good for me, for my career, and also to increase my confidence because they are very tough. Both of them have a lot of knockouts in their careers, so this was really good to boost my confidence and start off on the right foot in this new sport.”

Marcus Almeida submits Anderson Silva at ONE: 'Revolution' at the Singapore Indoor Stadium

Family affair

While he is a relative newcomer in MMA terms the Brazilian has definitely not been an overnight success. He began training BJJ when he was just 14 years old because his sister had started taking classes and he couldn’t stay at home on his own.

In 2012 he won a gold medal at the IBJJF World Championships. He would do this 13 times in total, an incredible record.

‘Buchecha’ has achieved it all in BJJ. He says a lot of the credit for his success should go to his parents,

“My biggest role models in life were my parents. My father and mother always worked hard and did everything to give the best for me and my sister. And thanks to the support I’ve had from them throughout my life, I’ve managed to focus 100% on the sport (of BJJ) and become who I have become.”

His father started BJJ at the same time as him and went on to earn his black belt. Almeida cannot emphasize enough the influence his parents have had over his life,

“The biggest lesson I learned from (my parents) was to insist, persist, never give up, fight for my goals, and chase my dreams. This willpower I have, I learned from them. I learned to run after things from an early age.”

Marcus Almeida celebrates after submitting Anderson Silva at ONE: 'Revolution' in Singapore

Formula for success

He thinks his mum and dad gave him a ‘formula for success’,

“That was the biggest lesson I learned from them. No matter what the dream is, do your best and dedicate yourself 100 percent. This is the formula for success.”

He has enjoyed incredible success on the BJJ scene and will be looking to replicate those achievements in MMA with the third win of his career on Friday.