In December 2021, the IBJJF Worlds returned for the first time in two and a half years due to the global pandemic. The event was held at the Anaheim Convention Center and was a return to normalcy for the sport. Melissa Stricker of Alliance entered the heavyweight division fresh off a double gold medal performance at the World Masters and was looking for her first adult World title. Melissa would go on to have one of the best performances of her career, winning the final against Izadora Cristina by submission.
Melissa’s first major championship of 2022 was the Pans in Florida, where her run to gold included wins over 2022 World Champion Larissa Dias and 2022 European Champion Maggie Grindatti. It was Melissa’s first Pan title as a black belt and provided her with confidence and momentum heading into the 2022 Worlds. Unfortunately, an injury prevented her from having her best performance in the Pyramid. “2021 and 2022 were very good years in my career. But before the 2022 adult Worlds, I had an injury and I was in doubt if I would fight or not. I decided to fight but I didn't have the performance I wanted. After the Worlds I stopped training for three months to recover from the injury and that was a little frustrating.”
Despite not performing to her standards, Melissa still managed to place third at the Worlds, losing a semi-final match to Rafaela Guedes of Atos after a close 2-0 match that was decided by a takedown. Melissa’s focus has now shifted to the World Masters, where she made her debut in the masters division last year. “The last World Masters was the first and only championship where I fought as a master and it was an incredible experience to debut with two golds. I was very happy with my performance.” Her training for the event is similar to her other training camps, taking a holistic approach that focuses not only on her work on the mat but also her entire lifestyle. “Pre-championship training is always very intense here at Alliance and this year is no different. Of course, it's many things that in the end make all the difference, like food, rest, and training.”
After an incredible performance at the 2021 World Masters, Melissa is expecting more of the same this year. “My expectations are high. I always do my best before the championships and that makes me fight confident. Without a doubt I'm going to get two golds again. The Master Worlds is a big event that grows more and more every year and we have the opportunity to see big names of jiu-jitsu fighting from many generations. It's amazing.”
Not only will we be seeing Melissa go for double gold at World Masters, we’ll also see her be competing at Jiu-Jitsu CON International in the adult division. “Last year I didn't compete in Jiu-Jitsu CON but I followed the seminars and fights and it really is a great weekend for jiu-jitsu enthusiasts. This year I'm going to fight in Jiu-Jitsu CON too. My priority is the adult ranking and so I'll be there fighting weight and absolute this year.”
It will be a very busy weekend for Melissa Stricker come September 1st, but it’s a challenge she’s well prepared for. She shared some closing thoughts on Jiu-Jitsu CON. “I would like to congratulate the IBJJF for providing events like these and I hope to do and see great fights there. See you soon.”