Bia Mesquita is one of the best grapplers in the world today, and could be the next jiu-jitsu star to make her transition to mixed martial arts.
Winner of seven IBJJF world titles, three as a black belt, Mesquita, who competes around 140 pounds in jiu-jitsu, stole the show Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, submitting rising MMA prospect — and fellow grappling ace — Mackenzie Dern at the Rio Falls absolute final.
"I thought the match would be a bit tougher,” Mesquita, who faced Dern for the first time in a jiu-jitsu match, told MMA Fighting after winning the match in just 64 seconds. "I was surprised how fast it was. I thought it would be closer. I believed in the win, but I thought it would be closer, that I would win by two points or an advantage, that it would last 10 minutes.
"I surprised myself a bit that I was able to impose my game so well. I went to the match and was able to dominate it. When I can use everything I know, when everything works, there’s no other result if not a submission.”
After winning the weight and absolute gold medals in Rio, Mesquita will now compete at the Abu Dhabi World Pro trials, Brazilian National, San Diego Open and then the World Championship in the next two months.
Going for her eight world title in Long Beach in June, Mesquita plans to shift her focus right after. The Saquarema native, who turns 26 years old on April 7, has already conquered every title possible in the jiu-jitsu world, and trained with MMA stars like Urijah Faber and Jessica Penne in the past has changed the way she sees the sport.
"I’ve already trained with these guys, and it was cool,” Mesquita said. "The girls from Alliance MMA always go to the gym to train with us. I’ve wrestled with them. It was cool. It opened my mind a bit about MMA. Now I think about this more frequently, thinking about training muay thai or boxing.”
"I can’t say I’ll (fight MMA) without experiencing this first,” she continued. "I don’t know how it feels to enter a cage and fight. It’s different than jiu-jitsu, you get punched in the face. I don’t know if I’m ready for that, if I have this talent. In jiu-jitsu, I’m ready for that. One thing I’m thinking about is training striking, muay thai or boxing, after the World Championship, and then I'll decide if I can or can’t start a career in MMA. But, for sure, that’s something that has entered my mind already. I’m more open to this world."
Mesquita says she has trained muay thai before, but only lightly.
"I’ve played a little,” Mesquita says. "There was a muay thai training after the jiu-jitsu training here in Saquarema, and I’ve put the glove on to play before. I mean, it’s cool, but it’s not the reality. Nobody punched my face for real. I want to feel the reality of the real training, something I never had the opportunity to experience. Getting knocked down… Am I ready for this? I know it’s not easy, I can get hurt more than in a jiu-jitsu training. That’s what missing before I can say ‘I can do it, I’ll try MMA.’"