Michelle Nicolini on changed BJJ training to win ADCC

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The women’s under-60kg champion of ADCC China, held last week in Beijing, Michelle Nicolini fought some demons before bagging her division.

First she kept her mind off the departure of Rodrigo Cavaca from her team, Checkmat, two weeks prior to the tournament. Then she recalled her defeat at the 2011 ADCC and took on her new goal with all her might.

After adjusting the training, she went back home with her career’s first ADCC title – and in great style at that, having foot-locked rival Luanna Alzuguir in the final match.

In a talk with GRACIEMAG, Michelle commented on the lessons learned from the first ADCC, analyzed the win over Luanna, and more.

GRACIEMAG: How did this exodus from Checkmat right before the ADCC affect your training?

MICHELLE NICOLINI: Well, in truth it really was supposed to mess things up, right? But, since he had already been threatening to leave since the Worlds, I was expecting it. We just didn’t expect him to leave two weeks before the ADCC. It could have ruined my competition and his, who ended up not going. But I expected him to leave the team, and I was training with other black-belts at academy The House F.C. in Santos, a Checkmat affiliate. I was very well trained; people there are always delightful; they moved their
training scheme around just to help me out and I managed to stay focused, not mixing things up and not being taxed by the situation.

In 2011 you were the runner-up. What did you do differently this time around?

I fought more relaxed for this ADCC. The last one I put a lot of pressure on myself, I overtrained. This year I had decided I was gonna do it different. The competition is one of the most important ones in the grappling scene and I couldn’t afford to err again. I trained, I worked out, I did physical preparation, I ate right and I had no trouble making weight. So all went well and calm. I’d go into my fights thinking they were just like tough training sessions.

At the under-60kg final, you and Luanna met once more. What was the detail to getting the sub?

Before the final I thought to myself: “Well, it’s gonna be another hard roll, like the ones I have with Marina Ribeiro.” And so it was. When I’m training for a tournament I don’t like letting positions slip; I tried to stay steadfast, alert to her movements and I wanted to arrive at my game soon, put her in my guard and sink the locks. Luanna is one of the toughest competitors I’ve been fighting. She makes almost zero mistakes, she’s very experienced. I think I managed to get to the position I wanted first; if she had gotten the
same chance she would not have spared me. I launched some consecutive attacks with the straight lock, on the heel, but what finally got her was the toe hold. I believe she tried to escape to my advantageous side and allowed me to lock it in further. It’s a lock I really enjoy, I’ve used it in other competitions.

What have you learned from ADCC 2013?

That Léo Vieira is the best. When he’s on the corner I feel privileged. Each word of his, before and during matches, left me confident and calm. The strategy was to know how to manage things without tiring, as there was the possibility of overtime. In the end, it was too much emotion. A long time had passed and I still felt the urge to cry. You go through a lot to get to the last day of a championship. I’ve been dreaming of this ADCC for a long time. I played in my first trial in 2007. I really wanted my family, friends and
boyfriend to be there so I could hug them all! [Laughs.]

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