2022 Pan IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship

The Comprehensive List Of Female Favorites Coming To No-Gi Pans

The Comprehensive List Of Female Favorites Coming To No-Gi Pans

From roosterweight to super heavyweight, here are each of the most exciting and decorated female competitors coming to No-Gi Pans this weekend.

Oct 12, 2022 by Mariana Viana
The Comprehensive List Of Female Favorites Coming To No-Gi Pans

The IBJJF No-Gi Pans Championship on October 14-16 in Garland, TX will feature more than 30 of the top female black belt competitors of today. We expect to see the final brackets later tonight, (update: they're here!) but no matter how they take form, the favorites — women like Nathieley de Jesus, Ana Rodrigues and Elisabeth Clay — will remain the same. Here are the top women to watch this weekend.

The black belt rooster weight division will consist of just three women: Jhenifer Aquino, Lavinia Barbosa and Amber Rymarz-Freitas.

Aquino, the rookie black belt from Atos, This year, Aquino will be competing in the IBJJF No-Gi Pans Championship for the first time as a black belt; she took silver in the tournament as a brown belt in 2020.

 "I started training No-Gi about two months ago during the Atos ADCC camp," Aquino said. "I have been training three times a day to manage my weight and that is working really well because I'm feeling well prepared and very strong."

Checkmat’s Lavinia Barbosa bested Aquino in the No-Gi Pans final in 2020 at brown belt before earning her black belt from three-time No-Gi World Champion Lucas Leite. At the top belt level, Barbosa placed third at the No-Gi World in 2021. 

“No-gi is always a challenge for me,” she said. “I never feel 100 percent in my comfort zone. My preparation is going great. Together with my professor and my training partners, we are looking to improve our no-gi game in all areas and be prepared for any situation that may pop up during any of my matches.”

 Barbosa and Aquino are longtime rivals at IBJJF tournaments. They have competed against each other twice at different belt levels, but never at black belt. This year, they are destined to face off, as the three-woman roosterweight bracket promises a pseudo-round-robin format.

 “Jhenifer is an excellent athlete,” Barbosa said. “The two fights we did were very tough, and they were both defined by the details. I believe we will have a good fight again because we both always give our 100 percent on the mats.”

Thamires Aquino is the most decorated athlete in the light featherweight division full of rookies and up-and-comers. One of the top female athletes of GF Team, Aquino earned important titles including at the IBJJF World Championship, CBJJ Brazilian Nationals and UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Tour in Rio de Janeiro. Thamires is the twin sister of Jhenifer Aquino, the aforementioned roosterweight.

Thamires explained difficulties in adapting to the no-gi game ahead of her first-ever entry at No-Gi Pans and No-Gi Worlds later this year.

“I have never been a big fan of the no-gi because my gi game involves a lot of spider guard, and for that, I need the kimono to do the grip,” Thamires said. “So I had to adapt and work on some techniques to be able to fight no-gi.”

Thamires will be in a featherweight division of no-gi specialists: Brittany Way, Alex Nguyen, and 2021 brown belt No-Gi Pans and No-Gi Worlds champ Jessie Crane.

The veteran favorite at featherweight is Patrícia Machado from Brazilian Top Team.

Last year, she competed at No-Gi Pans for the first time as a black belt and lost to Gabi McComb in the finals. In 2019, Machado placed second at NoGi Worlds as a black belt. In 2018, she placed first as a brown belt in the light featherweight division. 

This year, her biggest challenge could come from the rookie black belt who won No-Gi Pans in 2021, Alexandria Enriquez.

Lightweight is the largest black belt division at this year’s No-Gi Pans. There are nine athletes in this division, including four outstanding rookine black belts and one decorated gi athlete testing the waters in no-gi competition.

Thamires Monteiro, Jasmine Rocha and Yasmim Pinhiero will each try for their first No-Gi Pans title at black belt after reaching the podium there at brown belt in 2021. Emily Fernandez, the newest black belt among the rookies, will try to overthrow them all.

For her part, PSLPB Cicero Costha black belt Pinheiro placed first at No-Gi Worlds as a brown belt last year. Recently, the lightweight won her division and the open class at the No-Gi Austin, Dallas and Houston Opens.

“I have been doing all my jiu-jitsu preparation here in Texas at the GRIT Factory,” Pinheiro said. “I am part of the Cicero Costha USA competition team. If everything works out well, after Pans I will be competing at the Houston and Nashville Open to make sure I have enough points to compete at the No-Gi Worlds in December.”  

Anna Rodrigues is the most decorated athlete among the bunch of lightweights. But the three-time world champ has not competed in no-gi as a black belt. Rodrigues, of Dream Art, moved to lightweight for this tournament, despite capturing Euros, Pans and World titles at light featherweight earlier this season.

“Everybody was surprised with me, because always I say, ‘I hate no-gi,’” Rodrigues said, explaining that her last no-gi competition was eight years ago at blue belt. “I’m excited with this new phase, because I want to put myself on challenge.”

Watch: Ana Rodrigues discusses arrival to Houston, No-Gi Pans debut & more!


The Middleweight division has only four athletes, including Elisabeth Clay and the returning two-time black belt Pan No-Gi champion Vannessa Griffin. 

Clay has moved to middleweight this year, down from medium heavy where she conquered numerous important titles as the 2021 IBJJF No-Gi World and No-Gi Pans (double gold) champion. The experienced black belt who competes has favored no-gi in recent years will be facing the newly graduated black belts Betina Pereira from GF Team and Jessica Buchman from TAC Team who were both successful competitors throughout their colored belts careers. 

The medium-heavy division will feature several active and decorated black belts, 2019 no-gi worlrd champ Vedha Toscano the veteran of the bunch. Renzo Gracie black belt Bridget McEliece has earned a silver medal at No-Gi Worlds and gold at ADCC Open. Thalyta Silva is the reigning IBJJF European champ representing Dream Art; she has prepared for this event alongside ADCC veteran Giovanna Jara.

“No-Gi Pan will be my black belt (no-gi) debut,” said Silva, “I started my preparation at Dream Art in São Paulo, Brazil two months ago and just a week ago, I arrived in the U.S. to prepare at Dream Art in Houston.”

The Super heavyweight division will feature Mayara Custódio and Nathiely De Jesus as the only competitors fighting for the 2022 title. Custódio, of Checkmat, won the IBJJF No-Gi Worlds title last year. She will be facing Nathiely de Jesus, a veteran who won weight and absolute at the IBJJF No-Gi World Championships in 2016. She also earned gold in her weight division in 2018. De Jesus is coming off of a brief hiatus; she recently gave birth to a daughter. No-Gi Pans will be her first major competition tournament since becoming a mother.