MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino-American mixed martial arts (MMA) star Brandon Vera has long relinquished his place as champion of ONE's heavyweight division, but he continues to keep an eye on the competitors.
A fighter that the Filipino-American star has been watching closely is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida.
"Buchecha" is 3-0 in his young mixed martial arts career, but the hulking heavyweight was an unstoppable force in the submission grappling realm. The American Top Team fighter holds 17 world titles across the ADCC, IBJJF World Championship, and the Abu Dhabi World Cup among other organizations.
Vera, a BJJ black belt himself, said Almeida's submission game is in a league of its own and that there's almost no escape once he latches on to you.
"'Buchecha' is a heavyweight man, he's flying around submitting all these big heavyweights with no problem," Vera said.
"His takedowns look so beautiful and it's not the technique of his takedowns that impresses me but the timing of his takedown, off the shots. Your back-and-forth motion, very impressive 'Buchecha,' I've been watching you."
Almeida's BJJ game was on full display in his first two matches in ONE Championship when he submitted knockout artists Anderson "Braddock" Silva and Kang Ji Won. He changed his approach in his third fight against Simon Carson when he scored a ground-and-pound knockout against the Australian veteran.
Vera added that Almeida's BJJ is at such a high level that it's hard even putting it into casual parlance. The best the former heavyweight king mustered is describing how older brothers usually play with their smaller and younger brothers when they are young.
"The easiest way to explain is if you had an older sibling that would hold you down and say 'stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself,'" said Vera.
"That level of Jiu-Jitsu that those guys have can do that to professional athletes at this level in MMA. That's the only way I can bring it up so that everybody understands. That level of Jiu-Jitsu is scary because you see they can do whatever they want with people once they have their hands on you."
Vera can finally see "Buchecha" in action once again when the rising heavyweight contender takes on Belarusian fighter Kirill Grishenko at ONE Fight Night 1: Moraes vs Johnson on August 26, Manila time, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.