Leka Vieira said, “This is an experiment…” Well on Saturday, May 28, 2005, the so-called experiment would be put to the test. Women have fought so hard to try and be put on the same pedestal as the men for many events. Continually they have fallen short. Sure, there is the WNBA. But that league has struggled since the women are not dunking and playing above the rim. It’s unfortunate, but most Americans probably cannot accept the differences between men and women in basketball, even though they are quite comparable. But in grappling, the women have proven themselves to be just as fierce, entertaining and competitive as the men.
So, could the women of the ADCC prove to be entertaining as the men? The answer is a resounding YES! Since the women were squaring off at the same time as the men, and most of the time the focus was on the men, I’m sure many spectators will have to wait to see the women’s fights on the ADCC DVD before they realize what they’ve missed.
Gazzy Parman vs Leticia Ribeiro Okay, here we go. The first-ever women’s event at the ADCC, and it is up to Leticia Ribeiro and Gazzy Parman to kick-off the show. Going into this event, many believed Gazzy would be the women’s ADCC lightweight champ. Time would soon tell if that was to be the case. Both of the women are familiar with fighting in big events. Ribeiro is a Mundial veteran and champion while Gazzy has more than a few victories under belt as well. Leticia and Gazzy shake hands and it’s on. History is made. The two feel each other out with several tie ups. Gazzy appearing to be the bigger of the two tried several head snaps but could not take Leticia down. Leticia finally shoots in but to no avail, Gazzy’s sprawls and goes for a headlock. She works her way around to Leticia’s back and after a scramble, Gazzy ends up in Leticia’s guard. No points scored. Time runs out and they will now go into overtime. Regulation was spent mostly on the feet, neither of the girls taking too many chances for fear they might end up in a less-than-favorable position. And why not? This is for the big money.
The first overtime is a little more aggressive by both players. Again, the tie-ups and head snapping. Leticia looked to end this with a takedown attempt, but again Gazzy sprawls and works toward the back of Leticia. More guard play from Leticia. Times up. On to the second overtime.
In second OT, Leticia shoots in and then pulls guard. She tries to sweep Gazzy, but Gazzy uses her balance well and fights off the sweep attempt. Gazzy tries to pass the guard while Leticia defends.
Times up and we go to the judges’ score card. Gazzy moves on to the next round. Unfortunately, pulling guard is an infraction and Leticia lost a point for that.
Leka Vieira vs. Roxanne (Roxy) Modaferri Another favorite in the lightweight division was Leka Vieira. She squares off with Roxanne Modaferri. The women circle around the mat clinching and trying to get the ever-so-precious underhooks. Roxanne, not happy with the standup, pulls guard. Instantly, she pulls off a triangle attempt. She holds off closing it for a second, then Leka pulls her head out just enough to avoid the submission. Roxanne switches from the triangle to an uma plata. Leka gets her balance and sits on Roxanne while Roxanne holds on dearly to the uma plata attempt. Could Roxanne pull off the upset? Leka is a veteran and would show why. Leka uses her untrapped arm to pull down on the foot of Roxanne hoping for a calf crunch or ankle submission, but to no avail. Leka waits patiently for a window of opportunity. If she could some how get her arm out, she would be in a perfect position for an arm-bar. Well, Leka somehow gets the arm out and spins for the armbar. Roxanne holds on for dear life, but inevitably the grip was broken and Leka gets the submission. Leka gets her first victory at ADCC, but now faces her grappling nemesis, Gazzy Parman, in the next round.
Megumi Fuji vs Rima Haddad
After a little scrambling, Megumi gets position beats Rima with a quick armbar to advance to the semis.
Kyra Gracie vs Erica Montoya
After a failed takedown by Kyra, Erica shoots in for a takedown of her own. Unfortunately, Kyra was waiting with a guillotine choke. Kyra held on tightly and applied a tight guard to make the guillotine even more difficult to escape. Well, after much time and with resounding resilience, Erica finally gets her head out of the choke. The two scramble for position with Kyra landing in Erica’s half guard. The whistle would blow and Kyra would win on points advancing to the semi finals.
Megumi Yabushita vs. Amanda Buckner
Right out of the Japanese pro wrestling circuit comes Megumi Yamashita. Well, not really, but she did wear clothing that looked more like she was going to a party rather than fighting at the ADCC. We would see soon that Megumi may have not been a pro wrestler, but rather, a pretty damn good takedown artist. After a quick modified judo throw, Megumi looks for the armbar. Buckner somehow gets to Megumi’s back in the process and goes for a rear naked choke. Megumi looked helpless while being attacked, but defended the rear naked well. Amanda tried to get her hooks in, but Megumi would have nothing of it. Amanda abandons her rear naked attempt and goes for an armbar. Megumi flips over and picks Amanda up while Amanda still holds onto the armbar. Megumi slams (it was legal to slam your opponent, as long as it was to release a submission attempt) Amanda which made Amanda give up the armbar. Megumi ends back up in Amanda’s guard. Amanda then takes Megumi’s back. All of this happened before the time where points were being counted in the match. They ended up back on their feet. Megumi attacked with another one of her great takedowns. Amanda scrambled only to end up back in Megumi’s guard. The two would fight intensely for the remainder of regulation with the victory going to Megumi, 7 – 0.
Merloes Coenen vs. Yuki Kondo Kubota
The two begin their confrontation with both of them trying to gain a good clinch. At one point it appeared that the two were slap boxing as they were working for the clinch. Merloes, tired of the pugilistic approach, Merloes pulls guard. Merloes immediately tried for a back sweep. After some stand up and more ground fighting, Merloes ends up with a knee bar, moving to the next round.
Camila Gilstein vs. Stacy Cartwright
After some stalking by both fighters, Camila ends up in Stacy’s guard. Stacy quickly sets up a triangle, then switches to an armbar. Camila tries to spin out, but Stacy still holds on and submits Camila.
Juliana Borges vs. Hannette Stack
Juliana wins on points and advances to the next round. —————————————–
So the first round of the women’s division is complete, the women take a break. Since there are 5 times the amount of men in this competition, one of the men’s division takes a strong hold on Mat #1, the mat the women were using. —————————————–
SEMI-FINALS Leka Vieira vs. Gazzy Parman
Well, now we have two of the favorites in the lightweight division squaring off. There is no love lost between these two. The last time they squared off was a gi fight few years back, where Leka won on points after a great battle between two of the best female grapplers in the world. The two square off. Leka pulls into a hook – sweep. Once she has Gazzy on her back, Leka immediately tries to pass Gazzy’s guard. One of the most difficult tasks for anyone, is to pass Gazzy’s guard… male or female. Leka almost passes then you see Gazzy’s remarkable guard recovery come into play. Gazzy then gets a sweep which is immediately countered by an uma plata attempt by Leka. Gazzy somehow pulls out a knee bar attempt while escaping the uma plata. Gazzy immediately goes for a toe hold. A submission Gazzy nearly caught Leka with at their last meeting. It looks like Leka is going to be submitted, but then she goes for a footlock herself. Gazzy’s footlock looks more secure than Leka’s. Leka decides to abandon her footlock and tries spinning out. While doing so, it opens up Gazzy to try a more devastating submission, a heelhook. Gazzy’s now working to lock in the heelhook. She holds onto this submission attempt for dear life. The whistle blows, signaling the end of regulation. A lost opportunity for Gazzy.
Overtime begins. Leka shoots in and Gazzy immediately catches Leka in a headlock and tries to take Leka down. Leka counters and hooks Gazzy’s foot and takes her down instead. Leka then passes Gazzy’s guard. Leka would fight off any point scoring and submission attempts by Gazzy to get the win. Leka advances to the women’s under 60kg. finals.
Megumi Fuji vs. Kyra Gracie
Kyra Gracie pulls guard and attempts an immediate back sweep. She is unsuccessful. Eventually, Megumi settles down into Kyra’s guard. Kyra puts on a body triangle and appears to be waiting for the 5 minutes to be up so she could start working for points. As Megumi tripods in Kyra’s guard, Kyra slips in a triangle. She then switches from the triangle to an armbar and submits Megumi. Kyra moves on into the finals to fight Leka for the first ADCC under 60kg. women’s title.
Juliana Borges vs. Megumi Yabushita
Megumi and Juliana stalk each other for awhile, until Megumi finally tries one of her judo type throws. Juliana blocks it, counters and lands on top of Megumi. Juliana then takes Megumi’s back. Juliana would go on to win by points and move on to the finals of the 60kg+ division.
Merloes Coenen vs. Stacy Cartwright
Stacy beats Merloes and moves on to the finals against Borges.
Kyra Gracie vs. Leka Vieira – Under 60kg
Kyra Gracie would have to be considered the underdog against the cagey veteran Leka. But Kyra would have her own opinions on that. They begin feeling each other out and Leka shoots in for a takedown. Kyra sprawls. Back to the feet, Kyra tries an ankle pick then tries cutting the corner and Leka steps away. Kyra and Leka tie up and are close to going out of bounds when Kyra takes Leka down. I was sure they would start them standing up, but the referee determined that the take down was legit and in bounds. They restarted with Leka on her back and Kyra in Leka’s half guard. Leka would end up turtling and Kyra took her back. Kyra tries for an armbar but the Leka would manage to escape. Kyra would later get an uma plata attempt to a sweep. Leka would then try to footlock her with her free hand. Leka would get her arm out and they went back to their feet. Leka pulls guard and tries her rubber guard against Kyra. Leka would hold Kyra in this position for quite a while. All the while Kyra blocking Leka’s other leg so as not to get triangled. Kyra eventually gets out of the rubber guard and they both scramble to their feet. Kyra would jump up and take Leka’s back while standing. Kyra would not be able to finish Leka, but would win on points, 8 – 0.
Juliana Borges vs. Stacy Cartwright – 60kg
This fight starts uneventful with the two standing not really taking any shots at each other. Finally Stacey pulls guard. Juliana passes her guard and would eek out the win.
After all is said and done the ladies put on a great show and hopefully the officials at ADCC will consider them a permanent part of the tournament from now on. One can only hope that this showing will encourage more women to engage in grappling, thus making the women’s division larger than its current 16 competitors. Hats off to the ladies!