A run down of the current top Female BJJ players in the world inspired by Attack the Back.

Whether the following amazing women and BJJ competitors where motivated by family; fitness; exercise; self-defense; stress relief; or as a transition from more traditional forms of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enrolment for women has increased every year despite it being a traditionally male-dominated sport.

Below is a list of who’s who in the world of female BJJ.

Leticia Ribeiro

Leticia Ribeiro N. Dos Santos is a 4th degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and multiple time world champion in the sport. She is associated with the Gracie Humaita jiu-jitsu school. Wikipedia

Born: February 24, 1979 (age 37), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Residence: San Diego, California, United States

Team: Gracie Humaitá

Kyra Gracie

Kyra Gracie Guimarães is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and grappling world champion and a member of the Gracie family. Wikipedia

Born: May 29, 1985 (age 31), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height: 1.7 m
Weight: 53 kg


Michelle Nicolini

Michelle Zonato Nicolini or Michelle Nicolini is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and mixed martial artist. She holds a black belt under Robert Drysdale and is an ADCC and 8x BJJ World Champion. Wikipedia Michelle is an instructor at Evolve MMA in Singapore.

Born: January 5, 1982 (age 34), Itu, São Paulo, Brazil
Residence: Santos, São Paulo, Brazil
Teams: Checkmat, Evolve MMA


Gabi Garcia

Gabrielle “Gabi” Lemos Garcia is a Brazilian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, grappling world champion, and member of the IBJJF Hall of Fame. Wikipedia

Born: November 17, 1985 (age 30), Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Height: 1.87 m
Weight: 111 kg
Team: Alliance Jiu Jitsu

Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Lynne Dern is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and mixed martial artist. IBJJF ranks Mackenzie as the number one female black belt in brazilian jiu-jitsu. Wikipedia

Born: March 24, 1993 (age 23), Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Height: 1.6 m
Nationality: American

Tammi Musumeci

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie Carlson Gracie > Ricardo Libório > Emyr Bussade > Tammi Musumeci

Main Achievements:

  • Pan American Champion (2014)
  • World No Gi Champion (2013, 2015)
  • World Championship Silver Medal (2014)
  • Pan American Silver Medal (2016)

Favourite Position/Technique: Berimbolo/ Kimura

Weight Division: Peso Pena (58kg/129lbs)

Team/Association: Atos/ATT – www.bjjheroes.com


Valerie Worthington

Is a BJJ Coach based in the United States, New Jersey, at Princeton. Valerie teaches BJJ and Sports Psychology and is an all round inspiration. In the video clip below Valerie explains how she fought depression and found happiness in her life.

Gezary Matuda

Hometown:  Curitiba, Parana, Brazil (resides Coconut Creek, Florida)

School/Training Camp:  American Top Team (Coconut Creek, Florida)

Discipline(s): Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Black Belt; 4-time World Champion)

Height: 162 cm (5’3″) Weight: 53.3 kg (118lbs)

In the video below you see Matuda pull of an unmissable and incredible submission in her fight against Michelle Nicolini from Polaris Pro 12th Sept 2015.

Dominyka Obelenyte

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rolls Gracie > Romero Cavalcanti > Fabio Gurgel >Marcelo Garcia > Dominyka Obelenyte

Main Achievements:

World Champion (2015 weight & absolute black, 2014 & 2013 brown, 2011 absolute purple, 2010 blue)
Pan American Champion (2016/2015 black, 2014 brown, 2013 absolute purple)
European Open Champion (2015 black, 2012 purple)
New York Spring International Open Champion (2015 weight & absolute)
Pan American Championship 2nd Place (2014 absolute brown, 2013 purple, 2010 blue)
World No Gi Championship 3rd Place (2010 blue/purple)
European Open 3rd Place (2015 absolute)

Favorite Position/Technique: Open Guard, Pressure guard passing

Weight Division: Peso Pesado (79kg/175lbs)

Team/Association: Alliance Jiu Jitsu – www.bjjheroes.com

Yvone Duarte

Yvone Duarte, the first female black belt in BJJ. There had been some debate and somewhat of a quest to figure out who the first was, so it’s good to see that they have figured it out.

Duarte was a fierce competitor, winning both her weight class and absolute several times in the late eighties and early nineties. This is particularly impressive since she fought at 52kg, just under 115 pounds. She received her black belt from Osvaldo Alves, who is, to put it lightly, a true legend and founder of the art of BJJ. She went on to become the head of the BJJ federation in the state of Brasilia, and has reached the 5th degree black belt.




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