Marcus Buchecha was considered the best grappler on the planet for years, collecting a total of 13 world championships in jiu-jitsu and two ADCC gold medals among other accomplishments. He won’t rush things in MMA, but is confident that he will be called ONE heavyweight champion one day.

“The goal is to be the one, to be at the top,” Buchecha said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca ahead of Friday’s clash with Kirill Grishenko at ONE’s debut on Amazon Prime Video. “The final goal is always to be the best, to be among the best and beat them. I went all-in in MMA and am dedicating my life to this now. It was like that in jiu-jitsu and would’t be any different in MMA.

“I don’t know when, but [becoming champion] is definitely my goal. I have no rush, I got time. I just started in the sport two years ago. I can’t say when, but I will get there. I live one day at a time and only think about the today. I’m learning to live like this. You only have to live the today because sometimes the tomorrow never comes. My focus is on fighting [Grishenko] now, and I think the rest will happen naturally.”

Buchecha left the grappling world in 2019 and made his highly anticipated MMA debut two years later at ONE, tapping Anderson “Braddock” Silva with a north-south choke in under three minutes. He was even quicker in his next bout, submitting Ji Won Kang with a rear-naked choke. Buchecha improved to 3-0 this past June, stopping Simon Carson with punches.

“In fact, I was [throwing punches from mount] to create space for a submission, but I was able to adjust my legs and hips really well,” Buchecha said. “The moment he turned there, I had such a good position he couldn’t move, so I started hitting. I saw he wasn’t defending himself, but still thought he would get out and I would attack with a submission. … I really wasn’t expecting a stoppage. It was a relief when the referee stopped, the first TKO of any career.”

Buchecha said that ending a fight with punches taught him an important lesson because sometimes, he said, other jiu-jitsu fighters “force positions that aren’t there, so the punches give you great advantage creating spaces.” The American Top Team talent is now 3-0 in the sport with three quick finishes, and wants to keep the streak going against Grishenko.

“I’d be lying to you if I told you I want to fight three rounds,” Buchecha laughed. “If I can always end it in the first round, that’s a dream for me. First-round submission is always the goal. I’m ready to fight three or five rounds, I don’t have this rush of getting out of there.”

Grishenko is 5-1 in the sport and looks to rebound from the first defeat of his career, losing to Anatoly Malykhin for the interim ONE heavyweight title in February. The Belarusian fighter scored three of his five MMA wins by knockout and one via submission, and Buchecha calls him “a great challenge” for his fourth MMA appearance.

“I really feel like a MMA fighter now,” Buchecha said. “My jiu-jitsu is working, I was able to adapt it really well. There’s always room for improvement, of course, but I was able to adapt my jiu-jitsu and it’s flowing way better now. … Nothing scares me. I train with Steve Mocco here, one of the best wrestlers, so I feel very confident. But, for sure, this is going to be a great challenge.”

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