I have never expected I would compete at the World Championships as a black belt this year. However, having won brown belt World Title in 2016 meant I didn’t need IBJJF points and as a result my first black belt fight would be at the Mundials. It’s no small feat, but it’s a challenge I felt ready for. In the end, I have been looking forward to this moment for 7 years.
Unfortunately because of the ADCC Trials just 3 weeks prior to Worlds, I had no time to cut to rooster, which I was initially a little annoyed about, but in the end I loved feeling full of energy and happy during the lead up. I entered the absolutely stacked light-feather weight division and I couldn’t have been more excited about it if I tried.
This year we chose to stay at home for our camp. We have so many high level grapplers at Absolute MMA that we didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else. I had a great prep; I felt super strong, sharp and confident.
We had around 20 people in all from Absolute head to LA. Lachie and I stayed with black belt Michael Hourigan, Aaron Petersen and my amazing tiny training partner Chi Akiyama.
Chi and Nikki were first up and I knew just how ready they were. I get to train with both of them on daily basis and I had no doubt in my mind they were worthy of a gold medal. Both these women have improved out of sight and give me a pretty hard time in training.
Chi was up first, competing in rooster weight blue belt division. She absolutely dominated her way to the finals, sweeping, passing and submitting her 5 opponents. I have never seen anyone take on coaching and instruction as well as Chi did that day. I have a feeling I believed in Chi’s game more than she did herself and seeing her achieve so much put tears in my eyes every single time she fought. This was Chi’s first Worlds, her second international competition and only her 6th comp in total. Winning a silver medal is such a massive achievement, but this is where she belongs now – on top of podiums at worlds.
Nikki followed Chi’s performance and submitted her way to the final. Her arm bars are the sharpest I have seen and she looked absolutely flawless. Nikki lost the final by an advantage, but in my opinion was the best fighter in her division. I’m so proud to call these girls my teammates.
Everyone from Absolute fought great, and even though we didn’t achieve more medals, we are definitely coming. Everyone is winning more fights than the previous years and we are now in the mix. It’s a matter of time until we climb our way to the podium.
I wasn’t on until Saturday and all week I was just excited and couldn’t wait to step on the mats. I have found the perfect mix of nerves, adrenaline and happiness. I warmed up and took it all in. I absolutely thrive on the pressure I put on myself. I loved every single moment of being in the bull pen this year and felt confident, calm and ready to go. I so wanted a medal and I knew I was perfectly capable of it.
My first round was Kristina Barlaan who is a seasoned competitor with a tricky guard and some beautiful omaplata set ups. Luckily for me, I love pressure passing, so it was always going to be an interesting match up. In the end, I lost the match by 2 points. I gave up 2 points when I rolled out of an omaplata, but then swept back for 2 points. After a few close passing attempts, Kristina attacked an omaplata again and transitioned to a toe hold from which I rolled out of bounds for and lost 2 points. This was a crucial mistake on my behalf as the sub wasn’t and I kept my leg straight. The last couple of minutes were me trying to desperately pass from a stacked position and then 50/50 where I tried to set up leg attacks, but nothing eventuated.
I can honestly say I left everything on the mats that day. I didn’t do terribly, but I didn’t do the best I could either. Losing first round is never my aim… I have no doubt I belong on the podium and I know I will get there. My opponent was simply better than me and I need to improve in skill and strategy. And I will. The fire in my belly is lit and I am so motivated to have a better performance at the next Worlds.
It was a pleasure watching the rest of the Aussies compete, and especially my black belt teammates Lachlan Giles, Michael Hourigan and Kit Dale. Kit made it to the 1/4 finals, taking on Andre Galvao on the big stage on Sunday and putting on a hell of a fight.
2017 Worlds campaign came to an end. It’s the first time I have lost 1st round at the world titles and only the second time I have walked away without a medal. But I now know what is required of me and I will come back a million times better and stronger and I am more excited about that than I can really express.
I am so incredibly proud of my team this year, especially of Worlds silver medalist in Chi and Nikki. This is just the beginning for them and the BJJ world will hear their names many more times to come. I’m honoured to be their teammate.
I loved catching up with all my international friends during Worlds and spending quality time with some of my favourite people.
Thank you to my sponsors MA1 Apparel for making this trip possible. I wouldn’t be here without my sponsors:
Pony Grappling Gear