Even though I only got back 2 weeks ago, it feels like a lifetime! I am so focused on Worlds that it’s hard to look back, but when I do, I have nothing but smiles and great memories from this year’s World Pro.
I decided to leave a few days earlier than everyone to get some good training in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. My travel companion Margot kept me company the whole time – whether it was training, bolo-ing, joking around, shopping, eating and riding magic carpets.
We were lucky enough to train at Nougeira’s team in Dubai and catch a couple of sessions coached by Leo Vieira. I got to roll with some great black belts and sharpen up my game with drills. We met so many friendly and wonderful people there, but special thanks go to Eric Ramsey for looking after us, taking us around Dubai and driving us to Abu Dhabi.
My favourite training was a competition session with Mackenzie Dern, Braulio and Davi Ramos. I feel pretty lucky to have shared the mats with these legends, let alone to have trained with them.
When Lachie and the rest of the team arrived I had another fantastic training session, rolling with Lachie and Tingy and work-shopping some ideas with the lovely MG crew.
I was so excited to compete this year. As a new brown belt in a brown/black division, I didn’t feel much pressure, but my goals were to be tenacious and aggressive and give it my all. I entered open weight, knowing that if my first round was going to be too large or dangerous I would scratch. I drew a seasoned black belt who passed and choked me easily, but I came away uninjured and inspired. It was a wonderful feeling sharing the warm up mats with my idols and also with fellow Aussie brown belts Hope and Kate. We all improved a lot in the last few years and Aussie BJJ is going from strength to strength.
The next day I was ready to fight my weight division. I was a little more nervous, which is great as I fight better that way. Again, I drew a Bazilian black belt and I knew if I beat her I would get to fight my favourite BJJ fighter Michelle Nicolini. That was a massive motivator to go out hard and leave everything on the mats!
I pulled spider guard, eventually working my way to a half guard with a good underhook ready to sweep. I came up with a single leg but couldn’t finish so I retracted back to single x. From there I tried hard to get foot locks, to no avail and finally went to 50/50. With a minute to go I wanted a sub or sweep, but nothing close eventuated. I felt in control the whole time and I think I did more, however I was still surprised when the decision went to me. I got used to losing ref’s decisions, so understandably I was very happy to have a win at such a big stage.
I achieved my goal of winning my first fight and as predicted my quarter final round was against Michelle. I was probably a little too star struck, but feel very fortunate to have had this experience so early in my brown belt career.
Michelle played her famous shin on shin guard and I never got the grips I wanted, which resulted in me getting triangled.
I am convinced next time I will do better and as always I have learnt so much from the experience.
Here is a highlight of the under 55kgs brown/black division from Abu Dhabi.
I am back home now, and all focus is on Worlds. We leave for NYC in 1.5 weeks and I have never felt more driven as I am now. I am training hard 2 x a day with full intensity, I’m resting well and my diet is on point thanks to Reid Reale from Combat Sports Nutrition.
I cannot wait to compete at the Mundials… I’m pumped and ready.
As usual thank you to my sponsors: