Without some early beatdowns from his older sibling, 17-time World Champion Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida (3-0) might never have become one of the biggest names in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
The Brazilian icon recently transitioned to MMA, where he will look to stay unbeaten against Kirill Grishenko (5-1) at "ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II," which broadcasts live in North American primetime on August 26.
Almeida's quick success in the all-around sport has largely stemmed from his legendary grappling skills, which he was motivated to begin learning after his elder sister, Ana, started training.
Ana had joined a local gym in Sao Paolo at 15 years old, and soon after, the younger brother joined her on the mats – albeit with frustrating results.
"My father didn't like the idea at first, but in order not to forbid my sister from training, he started training too. At the gym, there was only my sister and one more girl. Then the two convinced me to go train, too, nd as I got beat up a lot by her, I started to go. That was my first contact with jiu-jitsu.
"She was already learning a few things and she always managed to beat me at home, and that drove me crazy. I saw how difficult it was to face someone who knew how to fight."
For the next little while, Ana continued to get the best of 14-year-old "Buchecha" by using her extra experience to stay one step ahead. As a result, the younger sibling was inspired to catch up, and although it didn't last long until his sister called it quits, it's a memory that Almeida looks back on fondly from his early days in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
"In the first training sessions, she did well against me," he said. "She already knew the basics and was bigger than I was. Then, with the mastery of some techniques, she was able to beat me. It drove me crazy! I was a child. I didn't want to be beaten by her at all.
"But it was cool, the family together there practicing a sport. My father liked it a lot because he knew where we were. He knew that we weren't doing anything stupid, so this little time we trained together was wonderful."
From training partner to biggest fan
Although Ana moved on to other things – stopping Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a white belt – she was always passionate about her brother's success.
After showing him the merits of "the gentle art," she became her brother's biggest advocate when he started to enter tournaments and then dominated the competitive scene.
Even today, she remains the Brazilian's greatest supporter during his high-profile transition to mixed martial arts, which has featured three dominant victories so far.
"I think my sister is my No. 1 fan. She's always really enjoyed following my career closely. She even has a tattoo of me on her arm! I think she and my mom are my biggest fans.
"In MMA, the same thing. My sister keeps cheering, watching, and screaming. She definitely gives me great support, and it is very important to have this support that I have from her and my family."
"Buchecha" is now a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, an IBJJF Hall of Famer, and a decorated multiple-time world champion.
But while he's achieved unparalleled success in the sport, Ana can still remind him that she was once the better sibling on the mats.
Those comments are light-hearted, although "Buchecha" admits he might not be the legend he is today without her.
The 32-year-old grappling icon added:
"She doesn't talk much about it, but when she sees me in a nice place, or traveling, or when something nice is happening and I'm happy, she jokes and says that I owe her everything, that if it wasn't for her, I would never have known jiu-jitsu.
"In a way, it's true. I laugh and agree with her. But if we fought today, she would end up winning. She has that right!"
This story first published at ONEFC.com.