Mayssa Bastos is jiu-jitsu’s equivalent of a volcanic eruption: impressive to watch and awe-inspiring in her sheer level of power, but if you try to stand in her way, you’re going to have a bad time. At just 21 years old, the BJJ black belt is dominating in virtually every event she competes in, and at her next stop, she hopes to repeat the success she had as a brown belt.
Next week, Bastos will once again be competing at the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro, which she won last year by defeating Livia Gluchowska by points. Victory at one of the most prestigious BJJ tournaments in the world was huge for Bastos not only because of the title, but also because of what it meant as a measure of progress in her journey. “It showed me that all the hard work was worth it. It was an incredible feeling of reward,” she says.
Bastos would earn her black belt just a couple of months later, backed by an extensive resume of titles she’d earned throughout her colored belt years. And from that day forward, those who hadn’t been paying attention to her steady rise in the sport no longer had a choice. Bastos has since won No-Gi Worlds, Pans and No-Gi Pans, the UAEJJF Grand Slam in both Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, the IBJJF European Championship, and the Brazilian and American Nationals. She’s also the current EBI strawweight champion, and just last weekend, she claimed the Fight 2 Win strawweight title a week after winning her Kasai Pro 5 superfight.
“All of the victories I’ve had are important to me,” says Bastos, who heavily emphasizes the importance of her self-confidence in her success. “I’ve never doubted myself. I know that it can be hard, but if I do the right work, the results will come.”
While the titles keep pouring in for Bastos, she says that getting sponsorships has been more of a challenge for her. Still, she deals with this obstacle the same way she deals with everything else in her path to success: by pushing through. “As you keep showing up and winning in competitions, things get better,” she says. “My challenge in life is that I want to be a better person each day that passes, and it’s no different in jiu-jitsu.”
As she once again sets her sights on Abu Dhabi, Bastos says she’s “excited to go in search of her fourth title” there (In addition to her big win last year, she also won as a purple belt in 2015 and then as a brown belt in 2017). She may be young, but she’ll walk into the Mubadala Arena an experienced veteran, unfazed by the prospect of going up against many other top-level athletes in her division. She knows that no matter what tricks her opponents have hidden in their gi sleeves, her key to victory will be her most powerful trait: “Determination. I don’t know what the other [competitors] will do, but what I have done is like my professor’s phrase: ‘Hard work by good people.'”
The 2019 UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro will take place from April 24 to April 26.