Monique Elias and the purple open class gold: ‘Being the wife of Mario Reis doesn’t facilitate anything’

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Monique Elias didn’t just make it rain at the Worlds 2013, as a purple belt, she won three fights in weight and four in the absolute. Photo: Erin Herle

Student and wife of two-time world champion Mario Reis, purple belt Monique Elias, 23, competed in an almost perfect World Championship run, with seven fights, seven wins and six submissions.

There wasn’t much new, as Monique also won the middleweight and absolute at blue belt in 2012. Happy with the wins, the Alliance fighter told us, from Porto Alegre where she lives, what she learned from this victory, analyzed the open final with Polish competitor Maria Malyjasiak, and at the end of the interview gave a valuable lesson for practitioners of all levels.

GRACIEMAG: What was the difference between last year’s Worlds and this, besides the color of the belt?

MONIQUE ELIAS: The girls are more technical. At blue belt, many fights end decided on the will to win. But at purple, the opponents are more professional. All train well and work out. If you look at the matches, you see a lot of girls with a very smart game. So I changed my training too, I started doing fitness training with Wagner Zaccani, who prepares the Olympic Judo team in southern Brazil, and increased by Jiu-Jitsu training by two hours. I felt that I fought stronger with better timing and I was stronger psychologically.

For those who don’t know you, how is your style? How, for example, was the middleweight final against Meagan Green (Cia Paulista)?

I kept my strategy of pulling guard, as I did in other fights, and managed to submit with the triangle from the closed guard. I dominated with the right grips and submitted. This move is often used at home (laughs).

This pulls the next question: In what aspect does Mario Reis help more in the competitions?

Mario was the one who introduced me to Jiu-Jitsu, who taught me everything I know. He only helps me, motivating me a lot at the gym, not letting me relax, missing training, eating badly, repeating a wrong position, being late for training at the gym. He has walked this path I’m starting to follow, and knows to point out the best shortcuts.

And the pressure of being the wife of a two-time world champion, is it scary?

Sometimes I feel pressured because they require me to have great results just by being the wife of Reis. When I win, I hear: “She won because she is the wife of Mario and receives more attention from everybody.” Well, it has its share of truth, because he is really demanding with me. Imagine having your teacher with you 24 hours! It takes patience and knowing how to deal with this very well, because besides student and teacher, we are married, and when I’m home I do not want my teacher telling me what I have to do or not. On the other hand, when I lose, I hear: “Oh, I beat the wife of Mario Reis”. I am not only Mario’s wife, I’m an athlete who gave up many things in life, who trains a lot to get on top of the podium, who gives up nights out with friends, waking up early. I am an athlete like thousands of others trying to find their space in Jiu-Jitsu and the fact that I’m his wife doesn’t make things easier for me.

The absolute final against Polish Maria Malyjasiak (Drysdale JJ) was your toughest fight. How was it?

Exactly. Maria is very strong and can use the weight very well. I had three advantages, two were from almost sweeping and one for going to the back, when we ended up leaving the mat. She had two advantages, because I was on all fours to replace the guard and another from a foot attack. Being at the end of the open, I was tenser. Because she is a very tough girl and heavier than me, I ended up having to use more power and got more tired. But it was cool.

What was your biggest learning experience at this Worlds?

I learned the value of training with people who make things harder for me. Sometimes we want to get to the gym and do all our moves, use all our positions and not put ourselves in danger. In fact, the training that really teaches us are the hard ones, when we have a hard time, when we get our face all red. Those are the opponents that make us give our best all the time.

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