Marina: “I’m a Kyra fan, it was a match I didn’t like having to do”

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Marina (on bottom) against Kyra / Photo: Ivan Trindade

Marina Ribeiro (CheckMat) didn’t want to have to do what will perhaps prove to be the most important match of her career.

However, upon beating Kyra Gracie in the featherweight final of the European Open 2011, the black belt showed that her days of being a “promise” are a thing of the past.

Kyra commented on the fight, on her blog: “We started and she pulled me into her open guard, her specialty. I tried to pass, but she seemed to be made of rubber. Until she swept me and scored two points. We carried on, a footlock here, kneebar there. Two minutes remained and I was still in her guard trying to pass. I started trying to explode past; If I could pass I’d score three points and win. Time ran out, ten minutes went by so quickly…”

Marina, who also beat Letícia Ribeiro, another favorite, in Lisbon, proved she’s the real deal, one of a divisional “queenpin.” GRACIEMAG.com had a chat with the fair Jiu-Jitsu fighter married to top-tier lightweight Helder “Bob Esponja”.

What did beating Kyra Gracie in Europe mean to you?

I’ve been a Kyra fan since I started training seven years ago, and I continue to be. It was a match I would rather not have done, but there was no way around it, just fight or fight. I was sad when I found out she was in my division, but at the same time I felt fulfilled, since I’d be there with her in a competition, regardless of the result.

What did you think of the competition, where you were also in the bracket with Letícia?

It was my first international competition as a black belt, since my visa was denied for the 2010 Worlds. So I trained a lot for the European Open. As far as the level of competition, it was the same level as the Worlds. I can’t say anything more about my division. Imagine a division where I was up against Letícia Ribeiro on one side and Kyra Gracie on the other. Thank God it all went perfectly. There was also my great friend Margareta Myhr, who also made it onto the winners’ stand. We trained together, and she gave me her full support at Fight Zone Stockholm, in Sweden.

What are your main goals now?

I want to compete at the World Pro in Abu Dhabi. This event is taking on enormous proportions, and the best will be there. I’m going to compete at the Brazilian tryouts in Gramado, Rio Grande do Sul, and I hope to win it. Then I’ll try for gold at the Worlds in California, which is everyone in this sport’s dream.

Who do you think will be your main opponents?

There are no main opponents. The level of female Jiu-Jitsu these days is extremely high and they’re all tough. The final begins with the first match. Winning is a question of technical, physical, and psychological preparation. The one who does everything just right will be the champion. My aim is to be prepared for the competitions I aprticipate in.

Who are your favorite fighters of all times?

My favorite has always been Kyra, who was world champion and ADCC champion several times over, has a goodwill project, and spreads the word on female Jiu-Jitsu around the world. She is truly an example to us all. To me she’s the best of all times.

What is your view on the evolution of female Jiu-Jitsu?

We’re conquering our space. More and more girls are coming up in competition, mainly in Europe and the United States. We’re respected as athletes and professionals, no longer as girls venturing into men’s territory. I’m really happy about it, since now I can see us girls making a living doing what we love. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you at GRACIEMAG for the excellent work in spreading the word on female Jiu-Jitsu, my master Ricardo |Vieira, and the whole team at CheckMat Paraíba, where I train, as well as my sponsors!

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