Which Of These Rookie Black Belts Is Having The Best Year So Far?

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For most competitors, the rookie year as black belt is a period of growth and humbling losses to opponents with years of experience at the faixa preta. 

Not so for these ladies.

Last June, a number of the top female brown belt competitors in the world were promoted on the podium at the IBJJF World Championships. 

Scarcely missing a beat, three Brazilian athletes in particular -- Nathiely de Jesus, Tayane Porfirio, and Talita Alencar -- have been astoundingly impressive in their divisions. 

We took a look at the last eight months to see just how incredible their rookie years have been so far. Judge for yourself who might be having the best year ever… 

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Talita Alencar on top. Photo: Chase Smith / FloGrappling 

3. Talita Alencar


• Team: Cobrinha BJJ/Alliance Los Angeles
Division: Feather 
Age: 25 
IBJJF Ranking: No. 111 in Black Belt Division; No. 10 in Brown Belt Division
UEAJJF Ranking: No. 2 in Black/Brown Division, 520 points
Superfights: 2 Fight to Win Pro events

As one of the lighter weight girls in the black belt division, Talita Alencar's opportunities to rack up absolute points are limited (though that rarely stopped her during her brown and purple belt seasons). She also hasn't been as active in Open Championship events as in years past, so her IBJJF ranking isn't as impressive as the other two girls. But what Alencar lacks in quantity, she makes up for in quality. 

Alencar took gold in the featherweight division at the IBJJF World No-Gi Championship and in the open division at the American Nationals No-Gi, defeating a number of more seasoned opponents. She currently sits in the No. 2 spot for the UAEJJF female black/brown belt rankings, dominating the 55kg division at the Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi Grand Slams and the Curitiba International Pro as well as the 90kg division at the Las Vegas International Pro.

She has also been invited to participate in professional jiu-jitsu promotions, winning her no-gi match at the Fight to Win Pro 16 against Maxine Thylin, and putting on an exciting show at the Fight to Win Pro 12 against Mackenzie Dern. 

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Nathiely Jesus (left) at the 2016 No-Gi Worlds. Photo: Chase Smith / FloGrappling

2. Nathiely de Jesus

Team: PSLPB Cicero Costha
Division: Medium Heavy 
Age: 21 
IBJJF Ranking: No. 18 in Black Belt Division; No. 2 in Brown Belt Division
UAEJJF Ranking: No. 1 in Black/Brown Division, 860 points
Superfights: 0

It seems like Nathiely De Jesus is at an IBJJF or an UAEJJF event nearly every weekend. Indeed, just this month she was at the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam one weekend, before flying back to Brazil, only to hop on another flight to Lisbon, Portugal, to compete in the IBJJF European Championship the following weekend. All that traveling is paying off… big time. 

With an astounding 860 points, De Jesus currently ranks No. 1 in the UAEJJF female black/brown belt division, leading by 340 points over No. 2-ranked Alencar. In this year alone, De Jesus has accrued five gold medals in UAEJJF events, including at the Tokyo, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, and Abu Dhabi Grand Slams as well as the Curitiba International Pro. With only four IBJJF tournaments since receiving her black belt, De Jesus currently sits 18th in the black belt year-end ranking, having won double gold at the American Nationals in July, double gold again at the World No-Gi Championship in November (which does not count toward her year-end gi ranking), gold in her weight division and bronze in the open division at the South Americans, and gold again in the Medium-Heavy division at Europeans.

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Tayane Porfirio (white) vs Beatriz Mesquita in the 2017 European absolute final. Photo: Chase Smith / FloGrappling 

1. Tayane Porfirio

Team: Alliance Rio de Janeiro
Division: Ultra Heavy 
Age: 22 
IBJJF Ranking: No. 5 in the Black Belt Division; No. 4 in the Brown Belt Division
UAEJJF Ranking: n/a
Superfights:

Often referred to as a faster, more technical version of her heavyweight predecessor, Gabi Garcia, Tayane Porfirio is another double-gold dynamo. She made waves in the international jiu-jitsu scene following her outstanding performance at the UAEJJF World Pro Championships last year, when she won gold in both the 90kg-plus and absolute divisions as a brown belt. That was before the UAEJJF eliminated the open weight division and instilled an upper limit of 90kg for all female athletes, effectively barring Porfirio from competing in those events unless she cuts over 40kg. 

Porfirio is more than game for that challenge, but in the meantime, she has been absolutely (pun intended) dominate in every IBJJF event she has entered. Following the worlds last year, she took double gold at the Curitiba Winter Open, gold in her division and silver in the open class at the Sao Paulo Open, double gold at the Rio BJJ Pro, double gold at the South Americans, and double gold at the Europeans. This performance has launched her to an incredible fifth place in the IBJJF female black belt year-end rankings.  

Go check out the archives of the IBJJF 2017 European Championships and catch up on the action! 

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