Worlds: Buchecha talks 11th title and Lo’s absolute victory

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Black belt absolute podium with Buchecha, Lo, Meregali and Honório. IBJJF

The uncontested biggest champion in World Championship history, Marcus Buchecha has reached a new landmark in his career at the age of 28. After tying Roger’s Gracie’s record last year, Buchecha returned to the IBJJF Worlds in Long Beach this month to win his 11th title, surpassing Roger and becoming the biggest champion by number of titles.

To get there, Buchecha faced the strongest and heaviest athletes of the BJJ elite in the ultra-heavy division. The final against João Gabriel Rocha (Soul Fighters) was a close one, but the Checkmat star again made it work.

“I had a very difficult bracket at this Worlds, but I managed to do alright,” he said. “I really wanted to have faced my training partner Luiz Panza in the final, but João Gabriel managed to win his semifinal. I’ve been fighting João for a long time, and each time he shows up stronger. I knew this time wouldn’t be different. In the fight, despite it being very hard, I think I had more initiative and attempts. In the end it went to a decision, and I won.”

Buchecha could have gone on to take down the open division and bag his 12th gold medal, of course. Leandro Lo, his big rival and friend, ended up with an injured shoulder in his heavyweight match against Mahamed Aly. With Lo unable to perform in the absolute final, for which he had qualified by beating Victor Honório, Buchecha would be declared champion — and yet the history books will show something different.

Before stepping on the mat to be crowned, Buchecha told referee Rodrigo Totti that Leandro should be declared champion. “I had the same feeling like I was closing it out with a teammate,” said Buchecha. “In 2016 — many people don’t even know this, — but it was my first championship before  had knee surgery, and as I reached the semifinal against him, he stepped aside and let me go straight to the final, with Erberth Santos. That really stuck with me, and this year I had the chance to pay him back. Nothing could be fairer than doing what I did.”


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