Women first competed in the World Jiu-Jitsu championship in 1998. First they all competed in the same division, without any separation of belts.
In 2007, the first open class division took place and Michelle Nicolini grabbed the gold medal. Only in 2012, black belt women had a division exclusive to them, without the presence of brown belts.
In 2014, the IBJJF inducted its first ever Hall of Fame class and six ladies received the highest honor in Jiu-Jitsu: Gabrielle Garcia, Kyra Gracie, Michelle Nicolini, Bianca Andrade, Leticia Ribeiro and Hannette Staack.
As we approach the 21st edition of the Worlds, we look back to see who are the most accomplished female competitors in the history of Jiu-Jitsu’s most important event.
With 8 gold medals as a black belt since 2006, Nicolini leads the pack in terms of appearances on the top of the podium. She is also the lightest competitor to win a black belt open class belt, which she took home in 2007. Michelle announced that the 2016 Worlds will be her last one, as she transitions to MMA. We will sure miss her.
With six gold medals, Bia competes in the black belt division since 2010. She won the lightweight division four times (2012-2015) and topped the podium at the open class in 2013 and 2014. A black belt under Leticia Ribeiro, Bia was not in the first class of the IBJJF Hall of Fame, in 2013, but should be in the second one.
With six gold medals at the black belt division at the Worlds, Gabi also has two open class titles. She’s been competing in the black belt division since 2008, when she won the heavyweight division for the first time. Gabi’s last appearance at the Worlds was in 2013, as she is now dedicating herself to a successful MMA career at Rizin FF.
A seven-time world champion, Hannette Staack built an impressive career on her way to the hall of fame. She won her first gold medal in 2002, when black belts competed with brown belts and purple belts. After that, she lined up titles in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011. The only thing missing was an open class gold medal, but that does not make Hannette’s run less amazing.
Another seven-time world champion, Leticia Ribeiro kept on top of the game between 2000 to 2012, with three titles in the featherweight division and four in the light-featherweight. Leticia built her legacy and is also responsible for the formation of talents like Bia Mesquita, Ana Carol Lebre, among others.
Six-time world champions, Bianca Andrade (later Barreto) is another of the original hall of fame members in the female division. She won six world titles from 2001 to 2009, become the athlete with the most titles in the female featherweight division.
With five world titles from 2009 to 2013, including an open class title in 2010, Luanna is definitely part of the team of great champions in the female division. She was one of the most consistent competitors of her generation. She had thrilling battles with Kyra Gracie and Michelle Nicolini, just to name two.
With four titles including one open class gold medal, Kyra Gracie also made to the hall of fame. Her greatest year was 2008, when she walked out of the Long Beach Pyramid with two gold medals. She almost repeated the feat in 2009, but Michelle Nicolini and Lana Stefanac got in her way. Kyra made her final appearance at the Worlds in 2010, closing a five-year run at the podium with another gold medal at the lightweight division.
Don’t forget to register for the 2016 World Jiu-Jitsu championship.
The registration deadline is May 24.
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