Following one of the biggest upsets of the event, brown belt Gabrieli Pessanha has become a 2019 World Pro champion.
Pessanha is far from the first brown belt to win one of the women’s combined brown + black belt divisions at the UAEJJF event, but her age (just eighteen years old!) and the fact that she narrowly defeated multiple-time World Champion Nathiely de Jesus on her way to the top of the 90kg division make her victory very noteworthy indeed. In the finals, she got a quick win via armbar against French black belt Claire-France Thevenon, reminding us that it was no fluke that she made it this far in the first place.
Among her brown belt peers, Pessanha has a more established reputation as a top grappler, which she reinforced with double gold at Pans this year. Now, her win at the World Pro has put a target on her back that’s sure to stay put even when she gets promoted to black belt.
Watch Pessanha vs. Thevenon below: