Eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Michelle Nicolini made short work of Iryna Kyselova in a clash of the strawweight contenders at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY. Though Kyselova came out with a flurry of punches in the opening frame, the BJJ Hall of Famer expertly switched levels to take the bout to the ground. That spelled the beginning of the end for Kyselova, as Nicolini effortlessly passed her guard before latching onto her back and locking in a rear-naked choke to put the Ukranian to sleep.
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.