Jiu-jitsu legend Marcus Buchecha has dealt with several fight cancellations since his transition to MMA, and it was no different ahead of his return to the ONE Championship cage in 2022.
Buchecha, who faces Simon Carson at Friday’s ONE 158 in Singapore, had three different opponents earlier this year. First, he was booked against “Reug Reug” Oumar Kane in April, who withdrew due to undisclosed reasons. Hugo Cunha stepped in for May 20, but tested positive for COVID-19. A third heavyweight agreed to face him on short notice on that day, but also couldn’t make it.
“This is the fourth opponent for this fight so it’s been really complicated, but I’m doing my part. I said I’d fight all the names they gave me,” Buchecha said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “I’m not even thinking about a specific opponent anymore, I’ll just go there and do my thing and pray that everything works out and the fight happens.
“That has been delaying my career and my plans. I should have six fights by now but I’m going for my third. What can I do? I’ll only believe [the fight is happening] when we touch gloves in the cage and actually fight.”
“Reug Reug” was expected to face Buchecha back in 2021 and 2022, but it never came to fruition. Ji Won Kang faced him in December of that year, eight months after the original date. Thomas Narmo also withdrew from a bout with the Brazilian grappler this past September.
Asked if he believes they’ve all had reasonable explanations for their pullouts, Buchecha said “it’s hard to say if it was something planned, but it’s all very weird.”
“But who am I to judge?” he said. “I do my part, I’m a professional. After I sign a contract, I honor it. My word means a lot, it’s not just a piece of paper. I showed up every time.”
The American Top Team heavyweight flew from Florida to Singapore for the May 20 card and was left without an opponent. He immediately agreed to be part of the June 3 show and stayed in Thailand, working at Phuket with the likes of Roan Carneiro and Douglas Lima, to face whomever at ONE 158.
Carson, who got the call to compete on Friday, is 2-1 as a professional MMA heavyweight, scoring both wins by first-round knockout with a submission defeat in between.
“From what I’ve seen from him, he’s a striker but also a black belt in jiu-jitsu,” Buchecha said. “He doesn’t have much experience in theory, only three fights, but I think I’m a dangerous guy and I only have two fights, so that doesn’t mean much. I have to stay alert, as always.”
If victorious in his third appearance under the ONE banner, Buchecha plans on taking two weeks off to recover from another heavy training camp and be part of the company’s first card on Amazon Prime later this year.
“I know they’re doing that card soon, maybe in August, and I plan on being on it,” he said. “It’s going to be a big card, the first time on Amazon Prime, and I want to be part of it.”