American Nationals: Fabiana wins at lightweight; Felipe Guedes wins on return

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Gracie Barra black belt Fabiana Borges flew to California from Texas to compete in the American Nationals. She competed in both Gi and No Gi and like many others at the tournament, she had some payback in mind.

In Fabiana’s first Gi match, she faced Kiri Liao of Ribeiro JJ whom she lost to last year in the open class. This year was different for a couple of reasons. Fabiana normally competes at feather weight, but this year she fought at light weight. So, she met up with Kiri in their division instead of the absolute. The other change was that this year, Fabiana won.

Fabiana in battle with Kiri / Photos: Deb Blyth

In their match, Fabiana pulled Kiri to her guard and swept her, but then Kiri swept her back. Fabiana was able to lock her guard and get Kiri in an armbar. “She fell down, but I kept her arm,” Fabiana says, “She tapped out.”

In her second match, Fabiana fought Ana Maria Soares of BJJ Revolution. “She won by an advantage and we fought again in the finals,” Fabiana says, “I won two to zero with two sweeps: one from the closed guard and one from the half-guard.” That gave Fabiana a gold medal for her efforts in her division.

In the Gi open class on Saturday, it was only Emily Wetzel of BJJ Revolution and Fabiana in the bracket. “She jumped guard and I was working to pass her long legs,” Fabiana laughs, “I almost got on her side, but she recovered and then she got me in a triangle.”

On Sunday, Fabiana fought in the No-Gi tournament. Fabiana and Ana Maria had another war, with Ana Maria tapping Fabiana out with a Guillotine.

Fabiana says the American Nationals was a good tournament for her. “I’m not doing as much conditioning as I was doing in California,” Fabiana laments, “I was at Juggernaut in California and that gave me a lot of strength and confidence. Since moving to Texas, I’m focused on teaching and growing the women’s program here. I am the only female black belt at my school, and I was happy to get a gold medal to bring back.”

Fabiana is currently back in Texas helping grow women’s Jiu-Jitsu around the state and preparing for the 2012 Pan and Gi Worlds.

In other news, Gracie Barra brown belt Felipe Guedes, Master middleweight brown belt, won his Gi division at the American Nationals. Felipe had three matches in his division and won them all by points.

This was especially gratifying for Felipe because he has not been competing nor training as much as he normally does. “Since last April I’ve been focusing on GB San Clemente, GB Dana Point, and the GB Association,” Felipe says, “I don’t have as much time to devote to myself. I want to improve other people’s lives through Jiu-Jitsu and make it available to everyone. That’s my goal.”

Felipe came to the American Nationals because he loves competing. This was the first time he signed up for a tournament with no training. “Oddly enough, I felt no pressure,” Felipe says, “I didn’t have butterflies or anything. I just had fun. I was looser today and my techniques felt really fresh in my mind.” Felipe says he’s going to try to recreate that feeling at every future tournament he attends.

Felipe Guedes and crew

Felipe says he normally puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform, but not this time, and he thinks this is the winning formula he needs to tap into for all his future competitions. “I thought about this story that Professor Flavio (Almeida) told us this week in class,” Felipe says, “His grandfather took him to the horse races when he was a kid and told him to watch the horses run. ‘They just run,’ his grandfather said, ‘they will run until they die. That’s the only thing they know how to do. They run for first place.’ There’s something to learn from that. If you want something, you gotta keep pushing for it.”

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