ABU DHABI // Gabrielle Garcia, the female jiu-jitsu powerhouse, will make her debut in the mixed-martial arts (MMA) either in Japan or her native Brazil in August.
The preparation has already begun. She has shed 25 kilograms and is training in various martial arts, including boxing and Muay Thai, to sharpen her all-around skills.
“I need a fresh challenge,” Garcia said. “I have nothing to prove in jiu-jitsu, but I still love the sport and will continue for as long as possible.”
Garcia will be in action today in final session of the Abu Dhabi Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, in the women’s open division.
“My next stop is the MMA and my other dream is to make to the UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship],” she said.
One of the problems in MMA and UFC is finding female fighters above 80 kilograms. Garcia weighs 105kg but says she wants to get down to around 90kg.
“I am working with a nutritionist because I want lose weight but don’t want to lose my strength. I was told it is possible. Perhaps I can get to 85kg,” she said.
She is also getting used to punching people in the face.
“I don’t mean to hurt anyone, but this is the nature of the sport,” she said. “It’s hard, I know, but when you are in MMA, you need to do it whether you like it or not.”
She has remained undefeated in Abu Dhabi, adding a fifth gold medal in her 72kg+ brown/black belt class on Thursday, and is favoured to win a third successive open-division title since the belt was introduced in 2012.
“It is a pleasure for me to be in Abu Dhabi,” she said.
“I love the people, place, hospitality and organising, which in my opinion is the best in the world. And the prize money is the most attractive.”
She has dominated the female category on the world circuit. The sight of Garcia, who stands 1.83 metres tall, will send a shiver through any opponent.
“I am a very friendly and normal person, but when I get onto the fighting arena, I am like a lioness,” she said.
“In a fight, the face and eye contacts are the most important. Half the battle can be won if you can get over that.
“All fighters are very good friends outside, but when we go into combat, it is completely different. It is a sport and once the fight is over, we don’t have any remorse for each other.”
She also had a lot of praise for the young fighters coming through the ranks.
“The new generations of jiu-jitsu fighters are tough, strong, and technically sound. They are iron girls. So I don’t know what to expect in the open division [on Saturday],” she said.
“Jiu-jitsu is growing. There are an amazing number of young fighters emerging from all over the world.
“However, many are concentrating in their own weight classes and that’s one of the reasons I am looking for a new challenge, like in the MMA.”
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