Going into 2022, Bianca Basilio had won multiple Pan and Brazilian National titles and established herself as one of the best female black belts on the planet. She developed one of the best foot locks in the game and also challenged herself in many open class divisions, despite competing as a featherweight. Although Bianca was an elite competitor and a fan favorite, she still had not won the most coveted title in the sport, the World Championships. In 2019 she placed second, losing the final to Ana Carolina Schmitt. Bianca also made the final at the next edition of the Worlds in 2021, this time losing to Gabi McComb in one of the best matches of the event. 2022 would be different, however, as Bianca would win both Brazilian National and Worlds gold in the best year of her competitive career. We caught up with her to talk about winning the Worlds, competing in the female GP, and the growth of female jiu-jitsu.
Winning Worlds and Brazilian Nationals in 2022
Bianca’s first major tournament of 2022 was the Brazilian Nationals in Sao Paulo, where she won her final with a kimura finish. She then competed at the Worlds, winning her first title in her third straight finals appearance after defeating 2018 World Champion Amanda Monteiro. “I thank God for what I'm living. I know this is a special year. I won my first World title that I worked very hard day after day to achieve. Despite everything I didn't expect it to take so long. It was the championship that I was missing and what I wanted most, but it was enough time for God to show me many things about myself and improve in many things in my personal life and career. It was a time to make new decisions, put some things in place and continue my career. Now I'm in a new phase with new challenges and I’m certainly much more experienced.”
Her approach to the 2022 season was different than in prior years, not only from a technical perspective but also in how she prepared off the mat. “There was not just one thing but several things I tried to do differently. I always try to find things that need improvement and work on them in a different way. I'm looking for experienced and professional people who will help me through the whole process to get where I want. I behave like a professional, training, eating, taking care of myself, and resting, all in a professional way. I'm learning a lot of things too. I think I always have room for improvement and that will lead me to conquer what God has prepared for my life.”
The Growth of Female Jiu-Jitsu
The number of female jiu-jitsu practitioners has grown immensely since Bianca started training, due in large part to the efforts of women who started training at a time when they didn’t have many female training partners. “I see how much the number of women has grown within the academies and how important the female presence is to bring even more women to jiu-jitsu. I'm not just talking about competition. Women are training for sport and self-defense and this brings them more self-confidence, self-esteem, strength, and knowledge, among other benefits that they will take for a lifetime,” said Bianca. “Compared to when I started jiu-jitsu, I can certainly say that we have more good female training partners and I'm sure this will only increase. We have many references including competitors, non-competitors, teachers, mothers, or just practitioners, all of whom contribute to this growth.”
The Inaugural IBJJF FloGrappling Female GP
The growth of female jiu-jitsu has led to the inaugural IBJJF FloGrappling Female GP, a four person lightweight bracket that includes some of the most accomplished and talented female champions. “I am very happy to be part of the first women's GP in the history of the IBJJF. It means a lot to me. The women's jiu-jitsu community is growing every day and in competitions we can see the high level of athletes who are there fighting for their dreams of being champion, of representing their team and the people who work daily to make this possible. I am very happy and grateful for the women from the beginning who opened doors so that more women could be living in this jiu-jitsu universe. Today I can do the same and maybe more and show that everyone, men and women, can achieve dreams through their faith, dedication, discipline, humility and will to succeed in life. it's not just about a medal, but about evolution. When we do our job well, those around us grow automatically. The GP is amazing and only has high level athletes. I'm sure there will only be good fights. I'm looking forward to fighting them once more.”
The IBJJF FloGrappling Female GP goes down Friday, August 12th and can be watched live on flograppling.com.