When I got my purple belt in June I thought I would give No Gi Worlds a go for a bit of fun, without any pressure. However, as I progressed through the months of prep and competitions, I wanted to do well more and more, and as usual, I put the pressure back on myself to perform well.
As the Worlds was the start of our 7 month trip, I needed to keep the costs down, so I stayed at home to prepare for the most part. I finished up work a week before departure and trained twice a day, every day. My coach Thiago has already left for Vegas by that stage, so we got a replacement teacher in Michelle Nicolini. YEP!
Michelle is my favourite female BJJ fighter and to top it off, she was fresh off her win from ADCC. Even more importantly she is an awesome person and a great teacher. Her willingness to roll with me, correct me and completely destroy me, made me feel the most inspired I have been in a long time!
As usual, my Maromba team mates selflessly drilled, encouraged and rolled with me and even took off their gis for my benefit. Even though Jess wasn’t going to the No Gi Worlds, she arranged little comp rounds with herself, Demi and Anna which brought my intensity and sharpness right up.
LOS ANGELES PREP
I landed in LA a week before Worlds and met Maryanne and Lachie (who was coming from a conference in Thailand) at the airport. I landed at 10:30 am and by 11:30am, I was on the mats at Cobrinha’s training. Thinking about training there still puts a smile on my face. I did 2 sessions a day up until Wednesday and just drilled on Thursday.
10:30-12pm Lachie and I spent drilling and then class went from 12-2pm. We drilled stand up attacks and grip fighting for warm up and then rolled – some rolls going for as long as 45 minutes. Night classes had a similar structure.
I was lucky enough to find a great training partner in Tove Sodersten, a light feather brown belt. It was amazing to have someone my size to roll with who is super technical. Tove pushed me to my limits and is a one tough girl, who made me laugh, smile and fall in love with BJJ even more.
Learning from Cobrinha was a dream come true for me… he is such a positive, approachable and an inspirational person, both on and off the mats. Can’t wait to go back for some more.
My weight cut was a little bit of a struggle this time around. My body was quite comfortable getting down to about 52.5 kgs and then it didn’t want to budge. I was maybe sitting around 6% body fat, which was pretty hard to maintain. At one point after training, I weighed 50.1 kgs…WHO DOES THAT?!
After all the squats and deads, by butt disappeared pretty freaking quickly…SAD. I felt hungry and de-hydrated most of the time, and didn’t have much energy, which left me feeling super anti-social (sorry Maryanne). All I could think of was all the things I was going to eat and drink after. Ahh, what an exciting life I lead…
I also had a bit of trouble getting over jet lag and was exhausted for the entire week, but unable to sleep. In the end though, I knew that on the day, once adrenaline hit me, I would forget all about my little struggles.
I woke up feeling good on Saturday. My draw was good too – with 6 girls in my division, I had a bye 1st round and then 2 fights to gold. I wasn’t on until about 5pm, but we got to the Pyramid early so I could check my weight. I was sitting about 300g under, which was perfect.
Watching the fights all day and thinking about your own is truly exhausting, but I am getting better at it. I was ready and just wanted to fight. I decided to go in with the attitude of wanting to win. I was focused and observed my thoughts, both negative and positive without giving in to my emotions. My sports psych was adamant that I cannot afford to relax too much or be too blaze, so my mantra for this competition was “Everything is NOT ok”. Might sound odd, but it kept me on my toes for sure.
This time around I had Lachie and Thiago in my corner coaching, and Maryanne, Shantelle, George, Murat and all the rest of Aussies all supporting each other…the best feeling!
FIGHT 1 – SEMI FINAL
I tapped hands and pulled guard and ended up in a half guard/hooks guard… not the best spot for me, but I didn’t feel in danger. After a couple of minutes I worked my way to a sweep and nearly passed twice but couldn’t stablize. On my 3rd passing attempt, I left my arm behind and the arm-bar attempt came pretty quick… it was weird, I was thinking, hmmm this LOOKS bad, but it’s not on at all and I managed to stack and pull my arm out of there. We ended up standing again after a couple of minutes and I decided to jump to single x. Lucky for me, the other week Michelle Nicolini spent 30 minutes foot locking me and correcting my straight ankle locks… So I attempted a straight ankle lock, which wasn’t quite on and got an advantage. With 3 minutes to go, I didn’t want to come up quite just yet, so I had another go at the sub. This time I re-positioned my arm and went belly down and got the tap.
My opponent was a girl from Sweden – Linda Lindstrom. Her stand up looked solid, so I decided to play guard again. I landed a sweep from a weird inverted half guard position and then patiently looked to pass. I spend quite a while fighting for the underhook and head position and passed as soon as I won that battle.
Got my points, then as I went for knee on belly, she tried to recover guard and I locked up a reverse triangle and worked for a kimura. I couldn’t get the tap, but looked to pressure pass again and got a few advantages.
It still feels a bit surreal… 2 IBJJF World Titles in one year, at 2 different belt colours. Super proud. All the hard work has certainly paid off this year. Sharing the moment with Lachie and Thiago and putting a smile on their faces made everything so worthwhile. My dream was to have them both with me to celebrate in person, but I never thought it would happen so soon!
I decided not to enter Open Weight, due to my upcoming trip and the risk of injury at my current size.
OTHER AUSSIES DAY 1
Fiona Muxlow was on fire and won her division. It was so great to see her reap the rewards of years of dedication.
Shantelle Thompson didn’t go as well as she would have hoped, but I have no doubt that this trip will inspire her to improve out of sight in the next year and tear up the mats in 2014. As a team mate I am very proud of her – not only is she a BJJ fighter, but also a mother who has just graduated from university.
Ashley Peter was a real chance to win her division in my eyes. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen this time around, but remember her name, she will be back smashing people and taking arms home with her.
Mitch O’Dowd did very well, but got triangled in his 3rd round. Top effort for 1st Worlds.
Cal Potter had a very tough 1st round and will learn a lot from this.
George won a bronze medal in open weight Masters division – a massive effort. In the end he was the only Australian male to win a medal at this years Worlds!
Kit Dale had a super tough draw – Felipe Pena 1st round. He lost on points, but it is so inspiring to see that Kit mixes it up with the best black belts in the world.
Lachie also lost his 1st round. I think he was much better than his opponent, specially after watching him train at Cobrinha’s all week, where he was holding his own against some world class brown and black belts. He got caught in an arm bar after a frustrating fight, where his opponent lied on his back and pretty much did nothing. I wished Lachie got to show how good he really is at the world stage, but as always, he already has a training plan mapped out for next year and will come back 50 x stronger from this.
Murat got a great guillotine in his 1st round, had a bye 2nd round and lost to the eventual winner in his next fight. A great achievement.
Thiago fought so well, but then got taken down with 2 minutes to go by the eventual winner of his division. Amazing to see how at black belt level, one little mistake can cost you the fight. It’s not easy coaching, looking after a team and worrying about everyone else as well as competing, but Thiago did just that. I am super proud of him!
Maryanne turned up her BEAST MODE. A few weeks after getting her brown belt, she became a double World Champion. She is a class act, as relaxed and humble as one can get. It was amazing sharing this journey with her… Congratulations!
Sophie McDermott Drysdale won a bronze medal in black belt light division. She is an amazing athlete, is tough as nails and a total inspiration. She was looking after her 2 young daughters in between fights and supporting her team mates. The whole Australia is proud of The Original AGIGer…
To top of these World Championships, and something that took me by surprise is that MAROMBA took out 2nd best female team. We had just 3 girls (Maryanne, Shantelle and myself), all from one club in Melbourne. We beat Alliance and were just 5 points away from Checkmat in first place. The best moment for me was seeing Thiago cry from happiness…what a beautiful moment and one I will remember forever.
AFTER THE COMP = REVERSE #ABS
Straight after my win we went to Ruby’s Diner and I nearly made myself sick with Recces Pieces shake, a beer, a burger and fries. Followed by more burgers and deserts and pancakes the next day. Well deserved, but dear god, I feel disgusting! To all those worried about me being lean… you have a bigger problem to worry about now. I may possibly die of a heart attack. I give my 6 pack about 3 days to hide under a soft layer of fat. Perhaps I will get my booty back?
We just said goodbye to Maryanne and the rest of the team, and now Lachie and I are on the bus to San Francisco for a few days. We then go to Mexico on the 8th. I am so excited to start our trip, but I actually can’t wait to get back to training, learn and get smashed. Looking forward to absolutely everything.
Worlds No Gi concludes my 2013 competition season. This year has far surpassed my expectations and dreams, and I have grown as a person in more ways than I have ever imagined. This year, being pushed to my limits brought up the best in me and I became a 2 x World Champion (no points scored against me both times), 2 x Pan Pacific Champion, 2 x Australian Champion and 2 x State Champion. As a result I was ranked number 1 light feather blue belt and now I am ranked number 1 no gi light feather purple belt in the world. A year ago, if you would have told me that this is what I am capable of, I would have laughed in your face…
Of course I would have never gotten here without the support and love from so many people:
My sponsors MA1 Apparel and Absolute MMA & Conditioning
My BJJ coaches Thiago Stefanutti and Lachie Giles
My S & C coach Simon Carson
My Maromba team mates
My Immersion, Renegade and Dominance peeps
My family and especially my Mum, Dad, Step Mum and Step Dad who support me in every way possible and don’t give a crap if I lose or win