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ONE's Kirill Grishenko aims to stop Buchecha's MMA rise: 'I'm not afraid of him'

The Belarusian heavyweight can't wait to face the Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend at ONE on Prime Video 1.

Not many fighters are lining up to face Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida (3-0) these days, but Kirill Grishenko (5-1) is eager to throw down with the grappling icon.

On August 26, Grishenko will face the 17-Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion in a heavyweight MMA clash at "ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II" live in North American primetime.

And while some fighters have pulled out of their scheduled matchups with "Buchecha" – who is 3-0 in his dominant MMA career so far – the Belarusian is not fazed.

Instead, he's relishing the chance to battle one of the most talked-about athletes in combat sports on a historic card at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

"I don't know if his (previous) opponents really got injured," Grishenko said. "At the end of the day, MMA is a tough sport and athletes often get injured during their fight camps in sparring. I'm not afraid of him – training camp is in full swing. I can't wait to face him."

Grishenko's desire to face off against "Buchecha" doesn't stem from a lack of respect.

He knows the Brazilian possesses an elite grappling game, which has led to first-round finishes in all three of his MMA bouts so far.

However, the Belarusian also brings plenty of talent into every fight. He's a decorated Greco-Roman wrestler who's already challenged for the ONE Interim Heavyweight World Title, and he expects to cause problems for his undefeated opponent.

 said:

"I think he's a high-level grappler, a living legend, who has achieved a lot (in Brazilian jiu-jitsu)," Grishenko said. "If he can improve his striking, he has a chance to be a champion (in MMA). Now, he relies on his ground game too much.   

"He has impressed me with his skills on the ground, but not with his striking – it is too basic, too slow. If he wants to stay at the top of the game, he needs to become a well-rounded fighter. 

"I know what I'm capable of. He's got the advantage on the ground overall, and particularly in grappling, but not by a landslide. I can beat him in striking. I'm working on my striking a lot right now and my (wrestling) base means he will struggle to take me to the ground."  

Grishenko promises to bounce back from world title loss 

Grishenko won't be overawed by any opponent – especially after competing against the man he considers the top dog in his division.

The Belarusian fought Anatoly Malykhin for the ONE interim heavyweight world title at "ONE: Bad Blood" in February, coming up short due to a second-round stoppage. But after dusting himself off, he's vowing to come back stronger.

Above all, Grishenko admits that certain weaknesses in his game were exposed, and he's addressed them ahead of his matchup with "Buchecha" at ONE on Prime Video 1.

"The fight gave me more confidence, despite the loss," Grishenko said. "Of all (Malykhin's) opponents, I stood the longest against him. I realized that I have to add to my striking repertoire and work on my technique. 

"Anatoly taught me not to lean into the strong (punches) – something my coach has always told me about. Until the last fight it didn't really sink in, but Anatoly schooled me properly. 

"Lessons were learned, homework was done, and now I'm working on correcting my mistakes, improving my weaknesses, and I hope to show my new skills in the next fight."

This story first published at ONEFC.com.