Bruno Pucci brought a perfect professional record of 2-0 into the ONE FC featherweight division with him and he got his fighting career in Asia off to the best possible start with a quickfire submission win over Pakistani pioneer Bashir Ahmad at ONE FC: "Champions & Warriors."
The 23 year old has only fought three times in three years since making his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut in 2011 but after making a name for himself competing in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and no-gi grappling, he is now fully focused on establishing a reputation inside the ONE FC cage.
"I was two time No Gi grappling world champion and I also won a bronze medal in Jiu Jitsu at the World Championships and to compete at this level you need to train hard so for a long time I was focused on Jiu Jitsu and on getting my black belt, as well as my university education, but now I want to prove myself in MMA."
Pucci's win over Ahmad puts him in the mix in a division where the highly experienced Koji Oishi (24-9-10) holds the belt with Filipinos Honorio Banario (8-2), Eric Kelly (9-1) and Edward Kelly (5-0) among the contenders. The Brazilian believes there are plenty of potential opponents and plans to fight more regularly in 2014.
"In the past I was busy with BJJ and with my education but now I am training full time in MMA and I will definitely fight more than once next year. There are some strong fighters in my division, I have been watching some of the old fights, but I am very confident in my submissions and have been working hard on my striking and my wrestling with the trainers at Evolve MMA."
Pucci joined Evolve MMA in Singapore late last year and has been based full time in Singapore ever since. He says he has been working hard to go from being primarily a grappler into becoming a fully fledged mixed martial artist.
"The training here is very good, it is a big challenge because the sessions are never easy but you learn a lot. Attachai Fairtex helps me with my Muay Thai and he is a world champion with maybe 300 fights. Yodsanan Sityodtong works on my hands and he is a world champion too, I think more than 50 KOs in his career, and then there are a lot of BJJ black belts to roll with and Jake Butler and Heath Sims who have so much experience in wrestling. All I do is learn, learn, learn every day!"
Both Ahmad and Pucci were undefeated going into their ONE FC: "Champions & Warriors" match-up and the Brazilian was dropped with a hard left hook before recovering, scoring a takedown and working slowly and methodically for the rear naked choke win.
Although Pucci says he was never badly hurt, the Brazilian has nothing but respect for his opponent and was relieved to feel him finally tap out.
"I fell backwards but more because I was off balance, but he did land some good punches. My striking is improving all the time because I work with the best coaches in the world but Jiu Jitsu will always be my specialty. Once I got the takedown, I was very confident because even though his submission defense was good, I knew he did not have as much experience as me in those positions."
Pucci does not have any further fights booked at present but he hopes to be back in action in early 2014 and is looking forward to working his way up the divisional rankings.
"There are a lot of tough fighters from the Philippines at 145 and there is the fighter from Thailand who just beat my friend Mitch Chilson. I want to be champion but I know I have a lot of work to do to make that happen, I am training hard at Evolve MMA and improving in every area so I hope I can stay undefeated and one day maybe I will fight for the belt, that is my dream."