My life has taken me to some very unexpected and wonderful places lately and I have been given many opportunities. Just last week my appointment as a Board Member for The Professional Boxing and Combat Sport became official and I will be commencing my new role soon. It’s a massive honour, which I will write more about later. However, this also means that between my own training, competing, full time work, running a business, more and more coaching commitments, teaching seminars and privates, speaking at events and attempting to have a private life, I have very little time to update this blog, which I will try to be better at.
FIGHT TO WIN PRO – SACRAMENTO
My year started off with a bang as I travelled to Sacramento to have my No Gi Worlds final rematch with Pati Fontes at Fight To Win Pro. I flew in by myself and didn’t know anyone in town, but thanks to the incredible BJJ community, I wasn’t alone for long. Dave Kovar of Kovar Systems and his beautiful family hosted me for the few days, drove me around Sacramento, cooked for me and were simply amazing company.
I was lucky enough to train with Marcos Torregrosa and his badass team at Yemaso BJJ, who were all super technical, committed to their training and skills and most of all just super nice people. The atmosphere at Yemaso reminded me of Absolute back home, and I’m super thankful I got to finish my prep there. I have no doubt that Marcos and his lovely wife Nikki, will be friends for years to come bound by our love for BJJ and burgers.
When I found out I would fight Pati on the card I was very excited about this match up. I believe that I didn’t show my best at Worlds and that I could do much better. I spend my Xmas/NY period fixing the mistakes I made and training very hard. Lachie and I drilled and specific trained the bits that needed improvement and I was very confident going into the fight.
Fight To Win Promotion put on amazing shows and I was so glad to be a part of it. Everything was professional, run smoothly and I had a ton of fun. We had a great fight and I executed my plan that I worked on with Lachie. I had a few sub attempts at the start of the fight with a guillotine I didn’t finish, and a few leg lock entries from the saddle, which again I couldn’t quite execute. Pati had me in a guillotine and a non-threatening toe hold attempt, but the action was back and forth all fight. With about 30 seconds to go, I saw a an opening for a heel hook, and thought I was close to getting the tap, but the time run out. Although I made some mistakes in the fight as I didn’t finish my subs, I was happy with the improvements from our last fight. I lost the judges decision, but gained a ton of confidence and seriously enjoyed myself out there.
IBJJF EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS – LISBON, PORTUGAL
The next day I flew back to LA and had Erin pick me up and entrain me for a day before we flew out to Portugal to tackle the European Championships together.
After a long flight we met up with Margot and Steph in a cute old apartment in Lisbon. The best thing about BJJ competition travel for me is meeting my friends from all over the world, training, sharing information, going through the struggles of cutting weight together, the sadness losing and the joy of winning together.
It’s been ages since I had the pleasure of rolling with Margot, the ever improving technician, Erin and brown belt Rose of Ladies Only BJJ, who just finished Medical School and is pretty much my hero. I met and rolled with so many people from all over the world and had a constant smile on my face each day.
I felt great on comp day and had the privilege of being cornered by one of the black belt legends Shanti Abelha whom I’ve looked up to for years. I won my first fight against a tough Tassia Pimenta by a cross collar choke from mount.
I was expecting Talita Alencar in the final, however she got disqualified in her first round from a leg cramp, and my final was set against Vanessa English. I pulled guard, but lost 2 points as she tapped my shin. I worked my collar sleeve guard and nearly landed a balloon sweep to mount, but I wasn’t tight enough and we both ended standing up. Instead of pulling again, I hesitated, and Vanessa jumped closed guard quickly. That’s when good BJJ ended from my end. I defended arm bars for 8 minutes and the couple of times I managed to stand up and break the guard, I ended up back in Vanessa’s closed guard. I lost the final by 2 points, frustrated with my performance, but came away with plenty of things to improve on. I feel like I wasted my opportunity at the shot at the European Title, but after drowning my sorrows by eating 6 Portuguese egg tarts and making a drilling plan, life was looking pretty damn good again.
We spent the rest of our days in Lisbon exploring the beautiful city, eating more egg tarts, dancing and going on day trips to beautiful neighbouring towns of Cintra and Cascais.
It was such a fantastic trip, but I was also looking forward to getting back home and not leaving my physio business for that long again. I missed my training partners, my routine and Lachie!
I had a 5 hour stop over in LA and decided I wanted to go and train, so I did a no gi session at Meraki BJJ with Ryan Hall. What an awesome way to break up the long flights!
My next major comp will be the Abu Dhabi World Pro. Really wish I could do Pan Ams as well, but overseas trips from Australia are not only very expensive, but also extremely time consuming. But on the plus side, I’m excited to be in a building/learning phase with my BJJ for the next few weeks before I build up for Worlds again.