2024 ADCC World Championships

Seizing The Moment: Alex Enriquez' Up & Down Journey To An ADCC 2024 Invite

Seizing The Moment: Alex Enriquez' Up & Down Journey To An ADCC 2024 Invite

After challenging journey, Alex Enriques enters the big show, looking to make history in new -55kg Division in already-historic ADCC 2024

Jun 26, 2024 by Erica Zendell
Seizing The Moment: Alex Enriquez' Up & Down Journey To An ADCC 2024 Invite

Alex Enriquez, currently sitting at no.6 in FloGrappling’s 125-pound ranking, has been steadily climbing in the professional jiu-jitsu spotlight since the tail end of 2021. Since being promoted to black belt under featherweight legend, Bruno Frazatto, in December 2021, Enriquez has established herself as a serious contender in the women’s divisions between 120-130 pounds.

Now, she's headed to ADCC, where she has chance to make history as the first champion of the -55kg female division in the new era. That division hasn't existed since it first appeared in 2005, when Sikaya Shiyoda was the champion there.

Alex Enriquez’s End of 2023: the Culmination of Goals 2 Years in the Making, Followed by Setback

At the end of last year, Enriquez was at the pinnacle of her game, her performances at black belt in late 2023 echoing and improving those of her brown belt career in late 2021: in 2021, Alex concluded a decorated career in the colored belts by winning No-Gi Worlds at brown belt and taking second at ADCC East Coast Trials. In 2023, she claimed her first IBJJF World s title at black belt and took gold at ADCC East Coast Trials. 

Watch Alex Enriquez's entire ADCC East Coast Trials run below:


Alex Enriquez’s Early 2024: Obstacles to Peak Performance for ADCC Season 

The end of Alex's 2023 was a culmination of what she had been working towards since achieving her black belt in 2021, and all signs had pointed to Alex being able to maintain momentum in early 2024.  However, in attempting to defend her Medusa Combat Jiu-Jitsu Title in late December, Enriquez suffered a severe concussion that hampered her ability to start 2024 as strongly as she had concluded 2023. 

Frazatto’s had planned for Alex to do a few ADCC Opens in order to prepare for Trials, but the effects of her concussion persisted until February, so her first competition on her return from injury was the crucial ADCC West Coast Trials.

“The concussion that she had at the end of the year compromised the training camp for ADCC [West Coast Trials], Frazatto said. "She could not compete to get ready for that competition. It’s not an excuse, but she didn't have enough time to prepare the same way that she had for the East Coast Trials.”

Nevertheless, Enriquez delivered a formidable, submission-heavy performance at ADCC West Coast Trials: she dominated Mona Bailey, Jessie Crane, and Amanda Bruse on her road to the finals, but lost in a rubber match against Jasmine Rocha, whom she had defeated in the East Coast Trials five months prior.

While disappointed about the loss to Rocha, Alex said she believes that she still wasn’t quite herself after the head injury and said that Jasmine “wanted it more” that day. 

“I definitely could feel like I wanted it, but then the pace, the fire wasn't there," she said. "As soon as Jasmine came out of the gate, she was already breathing heavily. I could feel throughout the match how much she really wanted it. She definitely pushed the pace, and I felt like I was reacting rather than being more on the offensive.”

Grappling with Disappointment—and Patience: Alex Enriquez Becomes an Alternate for ADCC

Due to current ADCC qualification rules, female athletes must win the second regional trials in order to qualify for ADCC World Championships. Winning the first regional trials does not count toward an ADCC invitation. Even though Alex had won the First ADCC North American Trials (the East Coast Trials), in 2023, she was not able to awarded a spot in ADCC based off of that performance. She would have needed to win the West Coast Trials in order to do so, otherwise be invited by the organizers.  

“I was devastated right after the loss,” Alex recalls. ”I was like, ‘Oh no, I messed up my only chance to get into ADCC.”

Enriquez’s gold-medal performance at the East Coast Trials still put her in a position that could be advantageous; she was first string pick on the reserve list for the -55kg division. If any athletes withdrew from the division due to injury or other reasons between April and August, Alex would be at the top of the list to fill out the bracket. 

However, Alex was not holding out hope that she would get the call from ADCC head organizer Mo Jassim to participate in ADCC off of the reserve list, believing it unlikely that any woman in -55kg would withdraw from the bracket. 

“I feel like in these brackets, the women never seem to drop out no matter how injured they get," Alex said. "In the dudes’ divisions, you just see [injury-related drop-outs] a lot more. Of course, I was praying someone would [drop out] so I would have the chance to compete, but I was definitely struggling with it [because I thought someone being injured] was my only opportunity.”

Then, reigning -60kg champ Ffion Davies voluntarily withdrew from ADCC on May 25—and everything changed. 

Off the Reserve List and Into the Main Event: Alex Enriquez Gets Invited to ADCC

In late May, Alex was in the Philippines—where she grew up and where her fiancee, decorated roosterweight competitor Fayelynn Cherrier, was recovering from knee surgery. When Davies publicly announced on social media that she would not be competing in ADCC, Alex’s phone blew up.

”I didn’t know what had happened, but my Instagram was like ‘Bing! Bing! Bing! Are you in? Are you in?! Did you see this?’ Shortly after, maybe 20 minutes later, after I get a message from Mo [Jassim] asking if I wanted to be in at -55kg.”

It had been a difficult few months for Enriquez between the concussion, the loss at Trials, and, most recently, the intensive logistics involving Cherrier’s overseas surgery. When Enriquez got the call, things seemed like they were finally looking up for her.

“I felt like, everything with the surgery went well, [Faye’s] recovering well, and then when we got that call, I was like, ‘All right, let's kick it into gear.’ Then I was out there in the Philippines trying to work out and dying of heat stroke, because I was like, ‘I gotta get back in shape!’”

Her coach, Frazatto, a three-time ADCC veteran, had a similar set of reactions: first of joy, then of urgency to get to work. 

“Of course I was happy that it actually happened—that she is going to be competing on the best possible stage she can compete on in no-gi,” he said. “But I know it’s a lot of work. I was excited, but then I was more focused on what I’m supposed to be doing to get her through ADCC camp in order to make her competition-ready.”

“The Camp”: How Alex Enriquez’s ADCC Preparation Differs from Her Preparation for Other Events

As soon as Alex returned from the Philippines, she and Frazatto began “the camp”: a detailed, ten-week plan to get her to the best performance of her career, including shark tanks, intensive rounds with a focus on the ADCC ruleset, and studying everyone in Enriquez’s division.  

“All the girls are the best, and if they are not already in their prime, they’re getting into their prime," Frazatto said. "All the opponents are going to be hard. The matchups will make each fight totally different. You never prepare for every single opponent when you have a [IBJJF or ADCC] bracket but this time, we are doing that: having a game plan for each opponent.” 

While Enriquez is excited to face anyone she meets in the bracket, she’s most eager about the prospect to face athletes she’s never matched with before, including those she looked up to as she was rising through the ranks. 

“I’ve never faced A-Rod. I haven't faced Margot, surprisingly—we’ve been in the same brackets but never ran into each other. Mackenzie Dern, of course, is an idol to a lot of us in the younger generation. So is Bia Basilio. At some point in my career, I looked up to all those people, and now it's like ‘All right, it's time to slay my heroes.’ I'm looking forward to any of those matches, whoever I need to beat to get to the top and get that title. That's gonna be the point.”

Enriquez is no stranger to elite competition, but as she and Frazatto cultivate her skills for ADCC, the largest stage of her career, her entire community is “pulling out all the stops” in rising to the occasion. 

Frazatto shifted multiple classes on this gym’s schedule to no-gi for the duration of Alex’s camp. Sponsors and family friends are shelling out for her meals and nutrition. 

“They’re doing everything they can do to push me to be as professional as possible, to be best prepared as possible,” she said, touched by the shows of support she has received so far. “All the sacrifices that not only myself but that other people are making makes the whole journey priceless. Like, no matter how we do at ADCC, I’ll be so grateful to everybody for how much time and care they're giving to me.”

In addition to this being Enriquez’s debut as an athlete at ADCC, it is also Frazatto’s debut as a coach at ADCC. A three-time veteran, Frazatto last competed at ADCC in 2019, and said he's excited to return to coach his first athlete at the biggest edition of the event in its history. 

“I think it is a culmination of everything that I have done in my entire career, to be able to guide her and give her direction," Frazatto said. "I’ve been there, and when you have been there before, you know how it feels, you know how it is, and you can guide people better.”

"It means a lot especially because I know she can win. I know she has a possibility to come back with a title and change her life. ADCC is about legacy. It is a title that can change your life, and it’s going to be great to be there as a coach. It’s something I’m looking forward to.”

“You're gonna see a better version of Alex during ADCC [than you saw at Trials],” Frazatto adds, confident in the training plan and in Alex’s ability to fully commit to the preparation process. “She’s going to be, for sure, the best version of herself.” 

Seizing the Moment and Evolving Through the Process

Formally in the lineup and preparing hard for the big show in August, Enriquez feels like she can finally savor the full ADCC experience, preparing her techniques as much as she is preparing to enjoy the moment.

“[Before the invitation], I was looking at all the brackets, how they were unfolding, all the invites going out, and I was like, ‘Man, I feel like I'm the one missing out.’ Now I feel like I'm looking forward to all the little things—the T-Mobile Arena, all the people, even the tracksuits, you know? Getting to be a part of every little moment, I feel like I'm gonna definitely soak it in.”

While Enriquez looks forward to all the details of ADCC itself, she most looks forward to seeing the kind of grappler she will be by the end of her preparation process. 

“I know that no matter how athletes do [at ADCC], they're exponentially better than they were before because of the amount of hard work they put into that given set time [in camp],” she said. “I’m really excited to see the new grappler I'll be at the end of this camp. And regardless of the outcome, we're going to keep pushing forward.”

When Is ADCC Worlds 2024?

The ADCC World Championships are Aug. 17-18 in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena. 

How To Watch The 2024 ADCC World Championship

The 2024 ADCC World Championship will be streaming live in the United States on FloGrappling and the FloSports app. 

Replays, highlights and news also will be available on both platforms.

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Don't Miss IBJJF World Championships And ADCC World Championships On FloGrappling

In May 2024, FloGrappling is streaming the fourth and final Grand Slam event on the IBJJF Calendar in California.  

In August 2024, FloGrappling is streaming the ADCC World Championships. The bi-annual tournament returns to Las Vegas. 

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