It was a long and difficult road for women’s divisions to be included at the highest level of professional grappling and ADCC 2005 marked the first time that the promotion had ever opened up to female competitors. This was actually significantly later than the IBJJF, as the first edition of the IBJJF World Championship to crown female winners took place in 1998. By the time that ADCC had decided to include opportunities for women in the world’s most prestigious no gi grappling tournament, there were several fantastic female grapplers who had proven themselves in competition.
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ADCC 2005 Introduces Women’s Divisions
Women were training and competing long before ADCC 2005 and some of those legends who paved the way for women’s divisions at the highest levels of the sport actually took to the mats at the event. That’s a huge part of what made ADCC 2005 such a special event, because the promotion managed to bring together several of the best female competitors together for three different tournaments over one weekend. There was plenty of action in every single match and it really set the stage for the future of women in BJJ, as those that competed at ADCC 2005 proved that they deserved just as many opportunities as men.
Under 60kg Division
Gazzy Parman and Leticia Ribeiro took part in the first women’s match in ADCC history in 2005, and they opened the under 60kg division in style. Ribeiro was already a two-time IBJJF world champion by then but Parman managed to squeeze past her by the thinnest of margins. Future MMA legend Roxanne Modafferi was up next against three-time IBJJF world champion Alessandra ‘Leka’ Vieira and although she put up a valiant effort, she was submitted with an armbar. Megumi Fujii also submitted Rima Haddad with an even quicker armbar and a young Kyra Gracie beat Erica Montoya on points to finish up the opening round.
Alessandra ‘Leka’ Vieira took on Gazzy Parman in the first semi-final match of the women’s divisions at ADCC 2005 and both women had moments of success, but Vieira ended up getting the win in overtime. Kyra Gracie was up next against Megumi Fujii and she submitted her with an armbar to book her place in the final opposite Vieira. Although she was the underdog at this point in time, Gracie started a legacy that ended with her being the first woman in the ADCC Hall of Fame by beating Vieira 8-0 on points and claiming her first title.
Over 60kg Division
Professional wrestling veteran and MMA fighter Megumi Yabushita put on an impressive display in the first match of the women’s over 60kg division at ADCC 2005, beating Amanda Buckner by a wide margin on points. Fellow MMA fighter Marloes Coenen was up next and she submitted Yuki Kondo Kubota with an impressive kneebar. Stacy Cartwright showed off some fantastic skill in her match with Norwegian grappler Camila Gielsten, transitioning from a triangle choke to an armbar to get the finish. The final match of the opening round was an epic battle between Juliana Borges and Haanette Staack, with Borges winning on points in order to progress.
Juliana Borges had her semi-final match against Megumi Yabushita and after a lot of back-and-forth on the feet, she was able to secure the win on points. Stacy Cartwright ended up being the woman stood opposite her in the final as she beat Marloes Coenen on the other side of the bracket. Borges had another lengthy match against Cartwright in the final and it certainly didn’t come easy for her, but she was able to win by the thinnest of margins at ADCC 2005 and become one of the first women’s champions in history.
ADCC 2005 Women’s Absolute Division
Some of the most exciting and successful female competitors at ADCC 2005 were invited back later that weekend to test themselves in the first women’s absolute division. Stacy Cartwright and Marloes Coenen were up first in a rematch and it ended differently this time around, with Coenen progressing to the semi-final. Tara LaRosa stepped in and took out Megumi Yabushita in the next match, while Alessandra ‘Leka’ Vieira beat the bigger Amanda Buckner. Kizma Button put up a fight against the only ADCC champion in the bracket, Juliana Borges, but couldn’t stop her from winning in the end.
Marloes Coenen had to settle for a 2-2 record at ADCC 2005, as Tara LaRosa got past her and secured a chance at glory in the final. Another epic battle was in store for Juliana Borges but she managed to beat Alessandra ‘Leka’ Vieira and was due to compete in her second tournament final of the weekend. She was a very game opponent but LaRosa couldn’t stop Borges from becoming the first female double champion in ADCC history, cementing her legacy as one of the greatest women to ever step on those mats.