2024 World Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship

Cassia Moura: The World Champ Who Went Blue Belt To Black Belt In 363 Days

Cassia Moura: The World Champ Who Went Blue Belt To Black Belt In 363 Days

The Bruno Bastos athlete earned purple at Worlds 2023, her brown on the podium at No-Gi Worlds later that year, and her belt atop the Worlds podium in 2024.

Jun 6, 2024 by Tasha Bhattacharya

On May 7, 2023 a 17-year old blue belt named Cassia Moura left Brazil, having secured the documents to travel overseas, with the intent of competing at the IBJJF World Championships under the guidance of Bruno Bastos, founder of Bastos BJJ in Midland, Texas. 

Bastos had already heard of Moura long before this from her coach, Mikael Reis from IP Jiu Jitsu (a social project Bastos supports), who told him, Bastos says, “I have a girl here, she’s not even, like, very good. But if you ever have an opportunity, I’d like for her to stay with you, because she just doesn’t fit here.” She was training at a social project Bastos supported, starting at the age of nine. 

Bastos explained that while Moura came from a community with high crime rates, her character and heart stood out. She did not have any tendencies towards a life of crime like her peers. She bet on herself and on jiu-jitsu to be a way out, training as hard as she could everyday, to not be another statistic like those around her. 

After finally getting the opportunity to travel to the United States, she initially planned to return home after five weeks, but she has been here ever since. 

Cassia got straight to work after landing, warming up by winning a small local tournament in Lubbock mid May before her winning streak on the World Championship mats two weeks later. 

After being promoted to purple belt, Cassia was watching the Female Black Belt Featherweight finals match between Bianca Basilio and Ana Rodrigues. Bruno turned and asked her if she would fight either of those athletes that day on the finals mat if she could. She replied “I don’t think i would win if I fought either of them today, but yes, I would definitely still fight them” to which Bruno replied, “let’s get ready because you’re going to come back here as a brown belt.”

In the next 363 days Cassia went on to make history. Winning every tournament she entered, winning No-Gi Worlds and getting her brown belt; and fulfilling her coaches prophecy, dominating yet another World Championship at brown. She was promoted to black belt matside.

Bastos explains that there is deliberate planning that is involved in Cassia's preparation. From her jiu-jitsu training load, to strength and conditioning, judo, yoga, nutrition and sport psychology. In December, Bastos gave her the option of choosing to be either an ADCC or IBJJF world champion. He could see her potential to be either but respected her choice when she replied “I want to be an IBJJF World champion next year.”

When asked how it feels to achieve that goal, Cassia replied:

“This is a dream come true, being able to compete over here. I think of that every time I step on the mat. All my opponents are very tough, but I’ve been through tougher things. I fight not just for myself but for my family and friends back home. To show that if I can make it, they can too.”

Prior to moving to Texas, Cassia was lifting weights daily, training six hours of jiu-jitsu, then assisting with 2-3 hours of kids classes. Most of it was self directed with her days starting at 5am and ending after 10pm. “I knew I had potential and I just had to work really hard,” she said of her training schedule. She credits her hard work as well as the help of her coaches back home, Mikael Reis, Claudio Nascimento and Kikito Souza. She said the only regret she has is leaving school to be able to train at that volume. Something she plans to remedy here by returning to study. 

As for her plans for the future: “Win No-Gi Worlds and then go home for Christmas to see my family.”