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jiujitsu

Copa Podio feels…

competition , injury , Jiu Jitsu • Nov 13, 2016

I have written about my whirlwind trip to Brazil to compete at Copa Podio for FloGrappling, which you can read here.

I thought I would elaborate on the behind the scenes stuff as well as my emotions and all the mental prep in the lead up to the fight.

When I got the call up for Copa Podio, it came as a big surprise. In fact a few months ago some ladies from Australia were meant to have a competition to select the ‘Kangaroos’ female representative. The competition was supposed to be between myself, 2 of my teammates, 1 training partner and a purple belt, with us all ranging in weight between 50 and 85kgs. None of this made sense, so I’m glad it never went ahead!

In the end my Absolute MMA teammate Maryanne Mullahy was selected to fight Ida Floisvik, but for some reason their fight got moved to January 2017, so in came Emilia Tuukkanen of Finland and I. I was given 4 weeks notice and really wasn’t looking forward to asking my work for more time off for BJJ, especially when I have already planned to go to No Gi Worlds in November and have just come back from Asian Open in Japan. Fortunately my work is wonderful and cleared my schedule straight away.


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As exciting as it felt to be selected to compete on such a big stage, it felt heavy with responsibility and no amount of reassurance from anyone else helped me feel any different. It’s one thing competing at the Worlds at the same time as 7 other matches, but another to fight in front of audience, live broadcast on Brazilian TV and a live stream across the world. I wanted to put on a show and make sure I did a good job representing myself, my club and my country. To ease the burden  I jumped deep into preparations where I left no stone unturned. I needed to be aware of Emilia’s game, so Lachie and I studied it together. We then shifted focus to my BJJ including my strengths and weaknesses.

Just when I started to feel confident, I tore my ACL during competition rounds. It hurt as it popped, but I was mainly crying from realising what I have just done to myself. ACL reconstruction means surgery, 12 months of rehab, a hamstring graft, time off work and added expense. In an instant I thought my dreams of competing at Copa Podio and No Gi Worlds were shattered. I had a goal of winning two brown belt World Titles in one year and I was fairly certain that wasn’t going to happen.

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I was in denial for a little while because after 3-4 days my knee felt pretty good. Even when I was getting my knee examined at the sports doctor’s surgery, I still hoped that the MRI wasn’t correct and my ACL was intact, which of course was not the case. When my physician advised me that if I could jump, squat and change directions without a problem I could possibly go to Brazil, I was shocked. However I needed to give myself a week to make a decision based on how my knee would handle drilling and heavier weights. I also had an Australian competitor as a replacement ready to take my place if needed be, which was a very tough conversation for me to have.

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With two weeks to go I drilled and specific trained and my knee was ok. It didn’t feel right, but with changing my game I had a feeling I would be just fine. In my final week at home, I had a few panic attacks. First one happened when Lachie called me out to do our usual Wednesday night competition rounds. I started shaking, was pretty close to tears and literally wanted to run out of the gym. However, the deal was that if I couldn’t get through that at training, I wouldn’t go to Brazil. So I took a deep breath and tapped hands. I survived, felt good and my knee didn’t combust. My knee only ‘gave way’ during my one and only team competition training before I left. It made me feel sick to the bone, but at least I knew which positions I needed to avoid when fighting. During the final few days, I still wanted nothing to do with leg locks, so of course Lachie and the boys specific trained with me all scenarios imaginable where I could get knee barred, ankle locked or toe holded. There were many panic taps and a lot of fear but by the time I boarded the plane I was very confident in my defences.

I will be forever thankful for the help from my teammates who pushed me to my limit without injuring me further, the constant encouragement from Lachie and my sports psych Anthony, who always tells me like it is and provides me with the tools to get my mental well-being just right.

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@ Hannah Gorman

@ Hannah Gorman

JitsnTits

JitsnTits

I had a lot of time to think on my 40 hour journey to Brazil and came to the realization that the enormous pressure I was feeling is a total privilege of an emotion. I felt grateful that I had the opportunity to do what I was doing, with so many people behind me. It took an incredible amount of courage to get myself ready mentally and physically.

During media day when I was giving an interview, it occurred to me that I perform best under pressure. I have been on big stages before, not only in BJJ, but also when I raced bikes on the velodrome in front of thousands of people and as a rhythmic gymnast as I learnt to perform around the world from the age of 7. I have competed with serious injuries and fought in 4 World Championships finals. This was my playground.image

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

The day before Copa Podio, I went to visit my second family at Alliance Sao Paulo whom I have missed so much. Michael Langhi, who is my BJJ idol, would be coaching in my corner and even volunteered to study my opponent’s game. Together we formulated a game plan for my fight. I was there when Michael tore his ACL 2 months before Mundials, so his words of advice and encouragement were comforting and meant the world to me.

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During the weigh-ins I looked around me and realised what an honour it was to be there. I was surrounded with world’s best heavy weights and people I have looked up to since I was a white belt. Now I was going to be fighting amongst them, on the same show. Right there and then I made a decision to do this for myself and forget everyone else watching me.

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

I woke up early due to jet lag, but I didn’t really care how I was feeling. I had no doubt in my mind that my fatigue and knee pain would be forgotten as soon as stepped on the stage. We got to the venue 7 hours before I was due to compete and I even managed a nap an hour before my fight. However as soon as I put my headphones on, it was game on. If I wanted to win, I needed to keep my focus for the entire 8 minutes.imageimageimage

Walking out on the mat holding Australian flag was a feeling I won’t forget in a hurry. I enjoyed every second. We tapped hands and it was finally time. I pulled guard quickly and as per Michael’s instructions played spider guard. I desperately wanted a sub, but couldn’t quite get there. I had many opportunities to come up for a sweep which I didn’t take because my knee wouldn’t handle more than a couple of minutes on top and there was no way I could risk it giving way on me during the fight. I eventually managed to sweep, but just when I tried to settle into my passing rhythm, I found myself in an arm bar. It was never really on, but as soon as I managed to get out of it, Emilia was attacking my leg. I quietly thanked Lachie for trying to rip my legs off every day from that exact position. I was able to get into a smash pass position and nearly get the pass, but Emilia turtled. I am not quite sure why I let go of the harness and went back to guard, but I think I freaked out because of possible leg attacks. I still cringe when I watch all the mistakes I make in the final 2 minutes of the fight. Although I wasn’t the most happy with my jiu jitsu that night, I was very proud of myself for doing what I had to to win, for changing my game and for not losing the plot entirely with stress.

When I finally heard the bell to signify the end of the match, I was flooded with relief. I stayed safe. My knee was a little sore, but it was ok. I was ridiculously happy that I won. 

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@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

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@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

Absolute MMA - my team's support is second to none

Absolute MMA – my team’s support is second to none

Straight after walking off the mat, Emilia and I high-fived and congratulated each other on leaving it all on the mats and putting on a good show. Emilia is a lovely human with beautiful BJJ and I was so glad to be sharing those moments with her.

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We finished the night off with some well deserved drinks and it was a pleasure having a laugh with our competitors. Emilia, Ben, Tommy and I caught a few rays of sunshine the next day lazing by the pool and eating acai. It was the perfect ending to my short time in Sao Paulo!

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I made the heart breaking decision to sit out of No Gi Worlds and get my knee well enough to handle the 2017 season. My year of competition comes to an end now and I am back at the gym learning new skills, developing a new game and getting bloody strong. My knee is holding up sometimes, but also gives me a lot of trouble if I get ahead of myself and revert back to playing my normal style of passing. It’s scary and upsetting, but I am really looking forward to turning it into a positive and expanding my BJJ like never before.

Bring on 2017!

ONE FC Grappling Challenge, Macao

competition , Jiu Jitsu • Aug 21, 2016

ONE FC announced that they will hold a grappling competition on the same day as the MMA event ‘Heros of the World’ in Macao only 3 weeks ago. I noticed that the prize money on offer was the same for men and women, which unfortunately is still really rare in the jiu jitsu world. Additionally, the organisers were putting everyone up in a hotel for a night in Macao, therefore offloading some of the travel costs. When Lachie and Craig decided to compete, I asked my work if they would give me a day off on Saturday and after they agreed, I booked my flights.

I entered the Elite division, which was for women with 5 + years of grappling experience and black belts. I knew that my idol Michelle Nicolini would be fighting in the same division, but I never back away from a challenge. In my opinion, the more experience I can get fighting the absolute best in the world, the better. It was only a couple of years ago, when I first attended Michelle’s seminar as a blue belt.

michlle 2012

Our flights were brutal. We left Friday lunch and got to Hong Kong lat at night. When we checked into the hotel, I had a minor panic attack. For those who don’t know, I get pretty claustrophobic. In fact, it took me years to get over it when training and competing, but I still hate small, confided spaces. Our tiny room had no windows and a small double bed and that was enough to make me freak out and run outside. Since it was nearly midnight and we really needed to get to sleep, I had no choice but to take a deep breath and go back inside.

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After a terrible night’s sleep, we got up early and sailed on a ferry to Macao. We went straight to the competition venue, which was the impressive Venetian Hotel. I felt like I was in Vegas with all the shops, bright lights, canals, gondolas, chandeliers and masses of people, who mainly were there to shop, gamble and eat.

The boys were up first. Mikael unfortunately lost first round by toe hold, Lachie lost a very questionable ref’s decision and Craig fought his way to a third place in the stacked Elite heavyweight division.

Photo @AFG

Photo @AFG

I had a three person division. First up was Angela Lee and I. Angela is a young MMA phenom, and ONE FC Champion. I pulled guard quickly, but made some mistakes and had to turtle. Angela tried to guillotine me, but after months of doing our ADCC submission specific training, I am pretty used to being in bad spots and didn’t panic. I got out of a submission threat and quickly regained my composure and set up single x. I swept and attacked her foot, but as a response Angela grabbed my leg and reaped hard, which caused her to get disqualified. It’s not a good feeling to win that way, as I really wanted to dominate and show good BJJ.

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Angela then fought Michelle, and lost by toe hold, which meant Michelle and I were set for a final. I still pinch myself that I got to compete against my idol. 3.5 years ago when I was a blue belt Michelle autographed my belt for me and now I got to tap hands with her in a competition. It was such an honour knowing that I would be fighting my favourite BJJ fighter in the final, however I had to be careful not to be as start struck as I was in Abu Dhabi World Pro and make myself believe I deserved to be there.

warm up

I pulled guard quickly and we spent some time grip fighting. I defended a few toe hold attempts and then locked in a kimura trap from bottom half guard. I transitioned to an arm bar set up, but it was sloppy and I never controlled Michelle’s posture, so she escaped without a problem. As I spun back to recover guard, I was caught in a tight toe hold and tapped.

It wasn’t my greatest show of jiu jitsu, but the experience alone is worth more than any medals. I am proud of the work I put in and I know that I am always improving. However, I have such a long way to go to hang with the best, let alone to be competitive at the highest level, but I guess that’s what gets me to training every day and strive to be better than yesterday. Step by step, I will try to close the gap and be the best I can be.

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

liv craig money

I received $US1500 for my efforts, which will go towards paying for my flights to Hong Kong and for flights to No Gi Worlds.

We spend the rest of the day having a look around the casinos, eating some delicious local cuisine and watching ONE FC. Exhausted, we went to sleep early and woke up at 5.30 am the next day to catch the ferry back to Hong Kong, then boarded the plane back to Australia. We landed at about 11pm on Sunday night, and I was back at work at 8am on Monday morning.

duck duck liv food 1gondoloas canalone fc eiffel towerpack

In all, it was a fantastic weekend, but extremely exhausting. It was totally worth the long travel though, and we will be back for future ONE Grappling events. The organisers made us feel welcome, everyone had a great time and the prize money on offer was a major drawcard. On a personal level, I loved fighting the best athletes on the planet, and it can only make me a better, stronger and a smarter athlete.

Photo @ AGF

Photo @ AGF

Becoming a Brown Belt World Champion 2016

Jiu Jitsu • Jun 21, 2016
gi win

Just over a week ago one of my dreams became a reality. I became a brown belt World Champion – a task that even a year ago seemed laughable to me. It took a lot of hard work, and that win meant so much to me on a personal level.

Many of you have asked me and wondered why I chose to do rooster weight. I think it’s important for me to write about it as honestly as I can, and describe the weight cut and it’s implications both physically and mentally.

THE WEIGHT CUT

I had toyed around with the idea in my head for a few months. Over the last year I increased my training (2 hard sessions per day) and since I have a very active job as a physio, which makes my energy expenditure rather large. I have been walking around under my light feather fight weight for a year, without much effort. That’s whilst eating pizza couple of times a week and desert pretty much every night. So I thought that with cutting out the extras from my diet, I could lose a few kilos. I also wanted to test out the rooster weight division for when I eventually compete as a black belt. On a personal level, I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it. I wanted to be disciplined in all areas of my preparation for Worlds and I wanted to know just what I’m capable of mentally.

I am not a dietician, so I needed help and guidance from someone who really knew their stuff. I sit at a very low percentage normally, so I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be detrimental to my health.  I consulted with a GP, I talked about it with Lachie, my parents and my sports psychologist Anthony Klarica. I then started working with Reid Reale from Combat Sports Nutrition (who is a BJJ black belt and an Australian Institute of Sport Dietitian and a PhD Candidate). After some calculations of calorie and nutrient requirements and a DEXA scan from the team at DEXA Melbourne to see exactly how much body fat I could lose, we decided that I could possibly make that weight.

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The cut was complicated by the fact that I competed at Abu Dhabi Pro 6 weeks before the Worlds. The lowest weight division in Abu Dhabi was 55kgs, so I spent a few months trying to bulk up. As soon as the competition was over, my 5.5 week journey to 47kg began.

Reid wrote a very detailed and personally tailored diet plan for me. I was to weigh myself each morning and we planned to adjust the diet as we went, depending on how my body responded. As predicted, I lost the weight and hit every weight goal for about 3 weeks. However, I got to 50kg and then my body would have none of it. I got to a very low body fat percentage and my metabolism slowed, which made the cut extremely difficult.

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Everyone enjoying burgers and I’m crying over a side of jalepenos

Lean and strong at the start of the cut

Lean and strong at the start of the cut

Mentally it felt good to be so committed to something and initially I really enjoyed the process. It made me focused, ready and I loved experimenting with different low calorie recipes. I made some delicious lunches and dinners and I maintained a high volume of food. However, slowly my attention turned to always thinking about my next meal and dreaming of things like toast and butter, which I never normally eat. I started getting a little shorter with people, it was harder to focus at work and it slowly became difficult to get out of 1st gear at training. It also became harder to give attention to others and be social. But I knew that this would happen, so I stayed focused and knew it was only temporary.

THE CAMP

Lachie and I left for New York 2.5 weeks before the Worlds. We met Demi, Margot and Jess in Brooklyn. Myself and the girls trained at Marcelo Garcia’s and Lachie trained at Unity.

The 2 week ‘camp’ was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

We are not normal

We are not normal

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Always so good to see Jess again!

Thats how Demi rolls... wet gi acting as a jacket. Whatever goes in NYC, right?!

Thats how Demi rolls… wet gi acting as a jacket. Whatever goes in NYC, right?!

Whilst I was training a lot and slowly cutting calories, my weight wouldn’t change. This was very stressful to me, as I sometimes wondered if I would make weight. I was so lucky to have Reid to chat to and reassure me to stick with the plan – as we changed my diet closer to competition, the weight would come off. I just had to trust the science.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me to stomach was how my personality changed and how it affected the people around me. I am usually a little selfish and focused on myself at Worlds camps, but this time, I was not the nicest person to be around to say the least. Lachie was an amazing partner and even though he hated to see me like that, he supported my choice without judgement, and I will be forever grateful for that. I just wish I got to be a better person for my lovely friends who stayed with me in NYC. It was a constant struggle to; a) not eat more whilst in starvation mode and, b) generally not be a horrible human being.

Training gradually got more and more difficult. I had very little energy, but had to keep the rolling up and was determined to never skip a session. My central nervous system was suppressed, so it was extremely hard to roll hard and feel myself. Again, I was aware that this would happen, so I only panicked occasionally, knowing that my Worlds prep does not happen 2 weeks before the fight, but a year out. In reality, I was ready weeks out from Worlds.

I have to give special thanks to so many amazing training partners. As I was getting lighter and had less strength, most people noticed it and matched the intensity whilst rolling. Jess, as always, was a wonderful and a supportive training buddy. She tore her bicep and was unable to compete at Worlds herself, but gave me her time regardless. Margot – the BJJ technician often flowed rolled with me when I couldn’t do much more. MG’s wonderful black belt in Megan Nevill was great to train with – she could have just smashed me every roll, but chose not to, and I will always treasure that. All the other girls at Marcelo’s – thank you for being so lovely and considerate even when I was at my lowest.

marcelo no gi marcelo gi marcelo and liv

Whilst I still had the energy, we got to do some fun things in NYC too. Lachie took me to see The Book of Mormon, which was the funniest musical I’ve ever seen.

times square book of mormon

I explored Central Park and went on countless walks around hipster Brooklyn listening to bad rap pumping out of the SUVs driving past and watching kids play basketball on the streets. I might have shopped just a little too much – as I couldn’t taste or try different foods and restaurants, I spent the money on coffee, shoes and active wear instead.

coffee brooklyn

All was on track until 1.5 weeks before the comp day, when I tore my lateral collateral ligament of the knee in training. Right there and then I thought my Worlds were over. I still cringe at the sound it made as it happened. I cried like a baby on the mats, but I was lucky to have the support of Jess, Demi and Margot who Ubered me home so Lachie could have a look at the damage. We didn’t think the knee was totally loose, and with enough luck I would recover in time to compete. I found it difficult to walk for about 3 days, so training was out of the question. Of course, I had to keep burning calories, so I bought a gym membership and whilst others did BJJ, I sat on a hand bike, bike and later on treadmill for an hour, 2 to 3 times a day. I have never hated life more than at that time. I had no idea if I would compete, I didn’t know if I would make weight, and on top of that sitting on a hand bike is possibly the most boring exercise known to planet earth.

Did I think of moving up a weight class at that stage? Of course I did. But I am stubborn and I have committed to following the plan through and through, and there was no way I was going to let 5 weeks of dieting go to waste.

5 days after the injury I drilled a little with Lachie to test out the knee. I cried standing up from closed guard, I cried when I just couldn’t make myself shoot a double leg as my knee felt unstable, I cried when I couldn’t triangle and I cried because I felt sorry for myself. Basically I was a big mess.

Drilling at Unity and hiding my sadness

Drilling at Unity and hiding my sadness

But each day, the pain subsided and the knee felt a little more stable and I thought with enough luck I would be ok. I kept drilling and sitting on that damn bike, and then 5 days out of fight day I flow rolled and managed to stay in one piece. There was still hope.

The weight was still not really coming off and I kept getting weaker and more annoying to be around. I remember I cried when I smelled chicken in a chicken shop… because I REALLY, REALLY wanted some fried chicken. I would also sneak into the kitchen to ‘gorge’ on chilies, kimchi and jalepenos. I sometimes felt guilty for having too much chewing gum as all calories counted at that stage. I also missed a train simply because I had no energy to keep up with normal walking pace. It was a sad, sad week.

Weight was not coming off and there was not much left to lose

Weight was not coming off, but I really didn’t have much left to lose

THE COMPETITION

We flew to Los Angeles 4 days before my fight and I was super excited for a change of scenery and also because I knew I only had 4 days until I could eat! Longbeach was a breath of fresh air and it was great to catch up with our Absolute teammates and stay in a super spacious loft. Finally, with 4 days to go, Reid changed my diet and I started to see the weight drop off as planned.

2 days worth of food - thanks Musashi!

2 days worth of food – thanks Musashi!

We trained at open mats hosted by The Jiu Jitsu League (Atos) each night, where I had my first real rolls and my knee help up relatively ok. Again, I was touched by how considerate some people were with me and rolled lightly and allowed me to build my confidence. Special mention goes to one of my idols Luiza Monteiro, who didn’t put any pressure on me where she had every right to, and encouraged me in every way possible.

On Friday, I watched my teammate Demi Butler win her first well deserved World Title in purple belt. Demi had a tough year but she went out there and showed the world just how good she really is. She is a beast in training and I cried happy tears with her as her hand was raised. 5 minutes later, Shantelle Thompson (another Absolute teammate), also won gold. She competed beautifully and it was her second World Title! I was totally inspired by these ladies and couldn’t wait for my own turn.

@ Macofoto

You did it Champ! @ Macofoto

The night before my comp day, I was allowed to eat a taco. And a snickers. And peanut butter. And so with the second mini snickers, my personality started to come back. I smiled. I wanted to fight. I was so ready to go.

After a late night consult with Reid, it was decided that I would do a 45 minute sweat session to dehydrate a little (no more than 1 kg), just so I could afford to eat more in the morning for breakfast. I will never forget the faces of my teammates as I run up and down the stairs and did hip escapes in a sauna suit.

As I went to bed that night, I was so damn proud of myself because I did it. I knew I would make weight. I knew I would compete despite my injury. And I also knew that not many people could get in the way of my dream the next day.

Here are some photos of me the night before the competition. I am extremely lean, but not dehydrated, not pumped and not photoshopped.

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I have prepared myself to possibly feel terrible on the day AND I knew that I might have to sweat some weight off if  woke up overweight. But I also knew that I only had 2 fights and I have trained in way worse conditions. I was ready to perform at my best, but feeling the worst. That’s what I trained to do for all these weeks.

I woke up super early because of jetlag, but felt great. I put my tracksuit on and went for a slow jog on the beach followed by an espresso. My body felt loose and my mind was sharp. I was focused and happy. I was scarily light (woke up 47kg and went down to 46.7kg later in the day), but with some carbs in me, I felt unbelievably strong for that size.

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I made weight easily and as soon as I got into the bullpen, it was game on. To wake up my central nervous system, I was slapping my cheeks hard and listening to loud music on my headphones. I was pretty aware of talking to myself, perhaps even out loud, but I couldn’t have cared less if anyone was listening or not. No one will ever know just what it took to get to there and no one could have possibly known how much I wanted that title. I wasn’t really nervous, but I was pumped and just wanted to fight. For the first time, I believed in me and backed myself 100% and it did not matter to me if anyone else did.

My first round started well with a clean guard pull. I played spider guard and looked for a sweep or a triangle. After a minute or so, I shot for a triangle, but couldn’t cut the angle to finish it as my knee hurt, so I switched to an arm-bar from inside the triangle set up and got a quick tap.

@ Luke Burnham

@ Luke Burnham

@ Luke Burnham

@ Luke Burnham

I felt like I had gas for days, so I was ready for my final as soon as I walked off the mats.

Lachie and I eating souls together before the final. Photo @ Luke Burnham.

Lachie and I eating souls together before the final.
Photo @ Luke Burnham.

We shook hands and double guard pulled. I quickly started attacking a foot lock, gaining 2 advantages after a few attempts at submissions. I contemplated coming up for 2 points, but I really wanted to finish. I decided to trust what I know and after a couple of minutes of grip fighting, I eventually adjusted my opponents foot under my armpit and won by a straight ankle lock – my signature ‘dolphin’ move.

final tap

@ Luke Burnham

win back

@Luke Burnham

Liv win final

@Mike Anderson

Liv win

@Macofoto

The feeling of happiness, relief and personal achievement that I felt in that moment is hard to put into words. This World Title was the hardest of them all, due to the preparation, the injury and the mental battle with the weight cut. I celebrated big and wore my heart on my sleeve.

gi win

@Mike Anderson

Hugging Lachie after my win was the best feeling in the world. We are a team and the medal is as much his as it is mine. He has been there every step of the way and sharing the moment with him was priceless.

Livia 4

@Luke Burnham

Livia 6

@Macofoto

podium liv

3 gold medalists from Absolute MMA - a remarkable achievement!

3 gold medalists from Absolute MMA – a remarkable achievement!

THE AFTERMATH

After the medal presentation and letting my family and Reid know that I made weight and won, it was time to eat. We drove to In n Out Burgers, and I ordered pretty much everything. The scariest thing was that nothing tasted like anything but sugar and salt. And it was delicious, yet terrible at the same time.

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After everyone was done competing, we drove to Compton to Hawkins House of Burgers, which was an interesting experience in itself. I should have stopped eating then, but I needed a Ruby’s Diner Reece’s Pieces shake as it’s my tradition after winning Worlds. It’s fair to say I felt ill, bloated and my stomach was in all sorts of pain. But it was so worth it!

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For the next 2 days Lachie and I stayed in Koreatown, hung out, relaxed and ate some amazing food. We felt so gross that we ended up training at Cobrinha’s – it is always such a pleasure to visit the academy and catch up with everyone.IMG_3333IMG_3312 IMG_3323

I was 3 kgs heavier the next day and my face looked less gaunt. Within 2 days of eating, I was back to my normal light feather weight. It took me 3-4 days for my stomach not to ache every time I ate, and it was interesting to see my joints swell up in the first 2 days after the win.

I know I had a lot of people worried about me and my health in the past few weeks, which is fair enough. What I did was very extreme and I would encourage anyone thinking about cutting weight to consult a doctor and a dietician.

To answer some of your questions:

  1. I do not have an eating disorder.
  2. I do not have body dysmorphia.
  3.  I didn’t enjoy the way I looked being so lean.
  4.  I didn’t like not having the energy for life during the cut.
  5. I am back to my normal weight now.
  6. I still love and enjoy food and training.
  7. I didn’t get sick during or after the weight cut.
  8. I am wholeheartedly happy.

Would I do it again?

Probably not, or at least not anytime soon.

Was it worth it?

It was, in every possible way.

I stand by that, even if I didn’t happen to win gold. The cut allowed me to get data on how my body responds to different foods and diet and from there I will be able to extrapolate what’s the best way to do it in the future, should the need arise.

Most importantly, the process has taught me what I’m made of. The amount of discipline and self-belief I needed to get there was huge. I had to get out of my comfort zone and dig very deep both physically and mentally. It has made me care less about the opinions of others and highlighted the importance of a good team around me.

It has taught me that I am a tough woman and a fierce competitor, and that despite various obstacles, I can put myself in the ‘zone’ and do my job. Finally, it allowed me to experience the joy of winning a World Championship, and nothing and no one can ever take that away from me.