Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida and Nicholas Meregali are among the most impressive grapplers of their generation and both men have won multiple titles at the IBJJF World Championship over their careers. Although there’s only 4 years between them, their black belt careers have taken place during slightly different time periods. Buchecha was promoted to black belt in 2010 and he started winning medals at the IBJJF World Championship the following year, whereas Meregali was promoted to black belt in 2017 and won his first world title that same year.
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Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida v Nicholas Meregali
Thankfully there was some crossover between their careers, and the pair did actually meet on the mats once, back in the semi-final of the absolute division at the IBJJF World Championship in 2018. They had competed in different weight classes, with Nicholas Meregali taking home a bronze medal at super-heavyweight, while Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida won the ultra-heavyweight division. Buchecha won two matches in the absolute division leading up to this but Meregali had been seeded lower, so he had actually submitted three opponents in the bracket up until this point.
Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida and Nicholas Meregali were both fighting for the grips they wanted at first, but Meregali managed to get what he wanted and he pulled open guard soon after. Buchecha stayed standing at first but dropped to a knee for more stability when Meregali tried to off-balance him. After a little gripfighting in guard, Meregali tried to sit up and weave his outside leg through to a deep de la riva X guard position, but Buchecha shut it down and returned to standing to prevent any further advancement. Meregali tried to off-balance his opponent again but Buchecha stood back up and tried to hit a quick leg-drag in order to pass.
Meregali recovered and got the de la riva hook he was looking for, untucking Buchecha’s lapel in the process and using it to seriously threaten the sweep. Buchecha recovered his balance and had to drop to a knee at one point, he popped back up tried to step over Meregali’s hook. Meregali prevented the step-over and elevated Buchecha with the hook, using it to set up a leg-lasso when Buchecha was off-balance. He weaved that lasso under Buchecha’s thigh and managed to get the leverage to tip him over, eventually working his way to the top and scoring the first 2 points of the match.
They got reset in the center and Buchecha was holding on to quarter guard with an underhook. Buchecha started coming up on the underhook and as soon as he felt some resistance he spun under Nicholas Meregali in the other direction and hit a clean sweep to bring the score to 2-2. Buchecha was very heavy on top and was flattening out Meregali’s hooks, while Meregali was framing hard to keep him at bay. Meregali recovered and freed his legs to weave them through to a de la riva x guard position but Buchecha stood up immediately to start stripping the hooks.
Nicholas Meregali pulled Buchecha into closed guard, where both men started fighting for lapel grips. Buchecha won that gripfight and stood up while Meregali tried to use an underhook on the leg to sweep him. When that failed, Meregali opened his guard to start off-balancing Buchecha. He used the elevation he was getting in order to get a leg-lasso grip but Buchecha started working frantically to break the grip. He was able to do so and Meregali started working from de la riva again, transitioning to de la riva X guard when Buchecha dropped to a knee.
Buchecha stood back up and picked up the pace on his passing efforts, blitzing into Nicholas Meregali with a knee-slice pass and transitioning quickly to a back-step over the top. Meregali caught the movement and was able to get to X guard, almost managing to sweep Buchecha when he stood up with his leg on his shoulder. Buchecha bounced back up and used the front headlock to expose Meregali’s back, catching an arm in a crucifix position. He transitioned to side control and solidified the position, scoring 3 points for the guard-pass while Meregali scored an advantage for the near-sweep that started the sequence.
Buchecha was 5-2 up with less than a minute left, and he started using heavy shoulder-pressure to limit Meregali’s movement. He tried to move to knee-on-belly a few times before stepping over Meregali’s head to attack the armbar, but Meregali dealt with the movement and trapped his leg. The final few seconds wound down from there and Buchecha had won the match on points, but it was an epic back-and-forth battle where both men had plenty of impressive moments.
The full match between Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida and Nicholas Meregali was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of the IBJJF: