If you want your shot, ladies, Rachel Wray is ready. Or pretty darn close, at least.
“Now that I’ve achieved the one goal I have been focusing so hard on for so long, I feel like I can finally turn my attention back to MMA,” Wray, the former NFL-cheerleader-turned-mixed-martial-arts fighter, tells FOXSports.
“I may compete in one more tournament in March, but I told my coach I’m ready to fight. He said he may have a fight readily available.”
That “goal” above is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, granted to Wray after she won gold Jan. 31 at the 2015 Arkansas Open tourney in Conway, Arkansas.
“This (was) literally the moment I (had) been waiting for the entire time I have been training for MMA,” says Wray, a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader from 2010-11.
“I think the reason he decided to promote me at the tournament was because of one of the matches I won. One of the girls there who is a purple belt, a pro and an MMA fighter with a 5-1 record, her opponent was a no-show. So they asked me to fight her. I figured I would probably lose but I wanted to get the experience of rolling with such a high-level grappler. So I said, ‘Yes.’
“She dominated me from top position for the entire first four minutes of the match, but then she decided to expose her back for a split second, so I got up and jumped on her back like a little monkey and sank in a rear naked choke. As I squeezed with all my might, I started to get tears in my eyes because I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was going to not only beat this pro, but I was going to submit her.”
Wray says she has taken home at least 10 golds in BJJ tournaments over the past 18 months, having fought competition ranging from 130 through 180 pounds.
Now that the blue belt — the second adult rank (after white) in BJJ — is in hand, her focus now is dropping 10 to 15 pounds and “sharpening my boxing.”
The former Chiefs cheer squad member, who sports a 2-2 MMA record as an amateur, hasn’t fought since last July 12, when she fell by submission to Jamie “The Pretty Assassin” Clinton after 44 seconds at Attitude MMA Fights II in Lakeland, Tennessee. Wray says she took the date while still battling the effects of a recent concussion, and that Clinton’s choke hold caused her to black out — a sensation she described later as “the same feeling as dying.”
“Once I can lose lots of weight and my hands are back to where they were two years ago, I will definitely be ready to fight again,” Wray says. “I’m also praying I don’t reinjure my ankle or get any more concussions, because those are always major setbacks.”
Robert Consulmagno is 42 years old. His father committed suicide when he was very young and his stepfather beat both him and his mother.
Robert joined the Marines in 1991 to escape the abuse and find a purpose, but sadly, things got worse. He was always getting into fights and couldn’t get along with others. He was honorably discharged in 1996.
Next, he tried college; however, he was always fighting with professors and unable to maintain any healthy relationships, so he went looking for answers at a VA Hospital and learned he had PTSD. He also learned that he was bipolar.
Three years ago, Robert found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and it has done for him, what medication couldn’t.
It seems that both UFC 183 headliners have failed their pre-fight drug tests. Nick Diaz for marijuana and Anderson Silva for a steroid that is used in cutting weight.
Official statement from the UFC reads as follows:
“On February 3, 2015, the UFC organization was notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Anderson Silva tested positive for Drostanolone metabolites on his Jan. 9 out of competition drug test,” read a UFC statement.
UFC’s understanding is that further testing will be conducted by the commission to confirm these preliminary results.
“Anderson Silva has been an amazing champion and a true ambassador of the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC, in Brazil as well as around the world. We are disappointed to learn of these initial results.”
Anderson Silva not only tested positive for Drostanolone metabolites in a January 9th out-of-competition drug test, but traces of the banned substance Androsterone were also found in the legendary champion’s system, according to Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) executive director, Bob Bennett.
Drostanolone is a common form of anabolic steroid. Androsterone is a form of endogenous testosterone. Both substances are banned according to the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
Silva, 39, defeated Diaz via unanimous decision on January 31st at UFC 183. According to Bennett, Silva was tested out-of-competition on January 9th, then January 19th with an in-competition test. Another in-competition test was administered on January 31st. Silva passed the latter two tests according to Bennett.
“I think it’s very unfortunate,” Bennett told MMAfighting.com‘s Ariel Helwani. “The UFC have made a tremendous effort to level the playing field in their fight against Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Credit goes to them for doing the right thing based on principles and they continue to support our out-of-competition drug testing efforts.
“You can’t lose sight of all the other athletes that do what they are supposed to do and fight cleanly. The UFC deserves a great deal of credit for supporting the PED challenge that we currently have. It’s just unfortunate for all of us.
Bennett added that the NAC’s new objective will be to receive out-of-competition drug test results within a week, and that the commission is at this point not aware of Silva failing any other tests other than the one administered on January 9th.
The last two UFC events have been riddled with shocking failed drug tests; Jon Jones for cocaine, Anderson Silva for steroids and Nick Diaz for marijuana (okay Nick Diaz on weed isn’t very shocking). What in the world is going on over there at the UFC? If we find out Ronda Rousey is on heroin after UFC 184 I don’t think I am watching anymore.
We wanted to catch up with Michelle and see how everything has been going since her latest win against Angelica Galvao at the first Polaris Pro event held on January 10th, 2015.
WBBJJ.com: Hello Michelle Nicolini! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and the followers of White Belt BJJ about your Jiu Jitsu Journey, and your recent bout against Angelica Galvao at Polaris Pro.
Michelle Nicolini: Thank you! It has been a pleasure to have the space here to talk bit more about my BJJ journey. Fight with Angelica was nice. I was training for that fight, sub only for some time, and I could get my goal.
WBBJJ.com: How is everything going with you since your recent win against Angelica Galvao at Polaris Pro?
Michelle Nicolini: Everything is great. Nothing to complain! After Polaris I went back to London and I keeped training at London Fight Factory, my team Checkmat and I was getting ready for Europeans. I fought last weekend and I got another gold medal. Now I’m back in Brazil for the Abu Dhabi pro trials in Natal. I will be fighting on Sunday.
WBBJJ.com: What was your game plan going into the match and what concerned you the most leading up to it?
Michelle Nicolini: My game was the goal of the show: SUBMIT my opponent.
WBBJJ.com: You are known for your footlocks and you won the match with one. What is it that draws you personally to the lure of foot attacks? Is it because they are effective against larger opponents? Or is it more because you feel safe, defensively speaking, when attacking legs and feet? I ask because I am beginning to find my way with them and would like to know your perspective.
Michelle Nicolini: Footlocks are easy for me. I saw it in many different places. But I think the combination of my game make it happens more. I get sweep for example, I end up on top, or I gonna pass or if you start to resist to much I will try to attack your foot.
WBBJJ.com: You have said that you are tired of fighting for medals and that it is time for you to continue with MMA. Are you taking the time to do that now that Polaris is over? or are you training for an upcoming BJJ event?
Michelle Nicolini: I did the Euros cause I was already in Europe. So always nice to fight where BJJ is still growing if we compare with America. But this year, we had so many competitors that maybe this event gonna be bigger than others in US. Polaris was awesome. I’m sure they will have big success in the second edition. And they paid good! I’ve some other things before, but I’m already thinking about Abu Dhabi Pro in April. As I lost last year, I’m super motivated to win this year. MMA probably in June.
WBBJJ.com: Did you watch this season of the Ultimate Fighter seeing as it featured all ladies from your MMA weight class? How do you think you would have done if you were on the show? Who was your favorite straw-weight fighter of the season and why?
Michelle Nicolini: I didn’t watch all the show, but I was following some. I’m super excited to meet one of the finalist girls one day in the cage. They are all good. I think if I had been there I would had learn a lot from the coaches and I could do good too. But when they asked me if I wanted to go in the house, it was too late, I had other plans and I preferred to not cancel. I will be there one day!
WBBJJ.com: You said about Ronda Rousey that “Talk is cheap if you never show up” (referring to Worlds). A fight between the two of you in MMA wouldn’t happen because of the weight difference, that being said, do you think you can beat her in the gi? What would you do to nullify her takedowns and extra 20 – 30 lbs?
Michelle Nicolini: I believe on my Jiu Jitsu. I fought big girls before. I won sometimes, I lose others. Its hard to say the result of a fight before it happen. But I would for sure pull guard and I’m sure she wouldn’t pass! You need have lot of ability to pass a guard without expose yourself.
WBBJJ.com: We have a large following of BJJ ladies and a large amount of white belt followers (obviously haha)? What advice do you have for white belts starting out in BJJ? And then what advice do you have specifically for the ladies who are starting out in BJJ? This is your time to share your knowledge with a lot of new BJJ players!
Michelle Nicolini: White belts, don’t miss the classes. Go as much you can so you will learn the sequence of the techniques and it will be easier to memorize. For the ladies, I know sometimes it’s hard to train with the guys, but I trained most of my time with them. And as much we learn easier and better it will be. Remember to not try exchange power with them, be technical and faster!
WBBJJ.com: Without giving away all of your secrets, when you are rolling with the guys, what adjustments (if any) do you make to your game that perhaps other ladies could use?
Michelle Nicolini: One of my coaches I had, Drysdale, he always used to say for me to not exchange power with a guy, so I learned it so good. Of course BJJ is little bit about power but I’m 100% convinced if you move yourself first then you try to move your opponent you will have a large advantage. So it’s not a secret, I move more than my opponents. I use a lot my legs, cause they are stronger than my arms. And all works good!! I think so heheheh.
WBBJJ.com: Thank you very much for your time Michelle. Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge? Any sponsors you would like to mention?
Michelle Nicolini: Thank you to Tatami fight wear, first year together and it has been so good for me. They gave me a great support. Thank you to my team Checkmat, The House Fight Co., London Fight Factory, all the people who always send me messages and to everyone reading this article. So glad you guys want to know about me, my BJJ career. Thank you!!
WBBJJ.com: Thanks again and best wishes to you and yours!
Michelle Nicolini: Thank you!!
Check out some videos of Michelle Nicolini in action below. In the first video Michelle breaks Tammi Musumeci’s arm or comes very close to doing so. The second one is a fantastic highlight video.
Coach Joel Bombeiro Muzenza surprises his 16 year old BJJ student with a blue belt in the middle of a roll.
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