Gabrieli Pessanha is easily the most dominant gi competitor in the women’s divisions, and apparently she’s already preparing for the transition to no gi competition in 2024. It’s a surprising move because Pessanha has historically stuck to gi competition exclusively, but the truth is that there are no real challenges left for her. She was promoted to black belt in 2019 at the age of 18 and has since gone on to win over 150 matches against the best competitors in any weight class available. She competes at super-heavyweight but she also enters the absolute division and has won both at every major event.
Pessanha has never been submitted in black belt competition and hasn’t lost a match since 2021, winning the double IBJJF grand slam in both 2022 and 2023. In fact, she has only ever lost to three women in competition and she’s avenged each of those losses multiple times over. The only thing left for her to do in the gi is to continue this incredible streak and at the age of just 23, already there are only 3 women who have won more IBJJF World Championship gold medals than her.
That’s why many fans have been eager to see compete at ADCC, or at least the IBJJF No Gi World Championship. This change in ruleset represents the last major challenge waiting for Pessanha and it would be incredibly intriguing to see her testing herself against the best no gi grapplers on the planet. Pessanha’s coach at InFight Team, Marcio De Deus, was recently asked about the possibility of Pessanha competing in no gi matches in the future by VF Comunica and he was clear in his answer (Translated from Portuguese):
“Gabrieli is training without the gi, we are waiting for some things to happen. But yes, in 2024 Gabi will fight without a gi. It’s a plan, it’s part of our planning that is very tight for next year.”
Her transition to no gi competition would be a huge moment in the sport, as she would immediately find herself among the best in the world without even having to make many adjustments. If she can develop her wrestling and leg-attacks to a level that matches the rest of her skills, then she would quickly find herself at the very top of the sport. Given that ADCC are known for handing out surprise invites it’s not outside the realm of possibility to imagine her making an appearance at ADCC 2024, that is if she doesn’t simply win ADCC Trials anyway.