Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Rio: Brenda Larissa aiming higher in Brazil after gold medal performance in Los Angeles
The female 49kg brown/black belt division in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Tour has been dominated by the immensely talented Mayssa Bastos in recent years. She is the only athlete to have won it at the ADWPJJC since the division's creation, in 2017. Bastos seemed to be unbeatable. Well, until a brown belt from Brazil's northern city of Manaus came along. Twenty-year-old Brenda Larissa shocked the Jiu-Jitsu universe on September 15, when she became the first athlete to beat Mayssa in the 49kg weight class in the AJP Tour.
Training since she was 10, Larissa talks about when Jiu-Jitsu went from a pastime to a life choice: “Soon after I joined, my training partners convinced me to start competing and that's when I really took a liking to the sport. Since then, I have not stopped competing. I am now 20 years old and Jiu-Jitsu is my life.” Still in Manaus, one person was really important in Larissa's early beginnings as a competitor: “My first professor was Melquisedequi Galvão, the one who saw my potential and the one who gave me the boost to prepare myself the best way possible to face the toughest competitions in the world.”
Now living in São Paulo, Larissa trains at Alliance, Fabio Gurgel's legendary school that formed many Jiu-Jitsu champions such as Marcelo Garcia, Rubens Cobrinha, Gabi Garcia, Michael Langhi, Bernardo Faria, just to mention a few. The high level training environment is paying off, as the world saw at the ADGS LA. Brenda talks about her mindset coming in to face Mayssa and other experienced black belts: “With Mayssa and all the other tough opponents in mind, I gave my all during training and really devoted myself to being in the best physical shape and have the strongest game.”
After the success in LA, Brenda is already eyeing the next challenge. Her name is confirmed to compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Tour Rio de Janeiro, on November 1-3, at the Arena Carioca. She is not afraid of what is coming ahead: “I am always looking for the next level of performance. I want to be as ready as possible for greater challenges every time I step on the mat.”