Jessa Khan is the definition of a rising star. The young jiu-jitsu athlete isn’t even eighteen yet, and she’s still got a ways to go before earning her black belt, but she’s already making a name for herself in the competitive BJJ scene. Khan, now a purple belt, has been dominating at every rank, winning Worlds four times, No-Gi Worlds three times, Pans four times, and even the UAEJJF World Pro earlier this year.
Tonight, Khan is preparing for another challenge: her third Fight 2 Win match, this time at F2W 126 in San Diego. She’ll be facing Nadine Mandiau, and even though Mandiau is a formidable competitor who’s also fought MMA, Khan says that she feels “really good” going into the match. Her confidence isn’t unwarranted — the teen is 2-0 so far for the promotion, and given that she seems to be winning everything she touches (including No-Gi Pans earlier this month), it’s no surprise that she’s going into this match with the expectation that she’ll come out with her hand raised.
Khan’s long string of success hasn’t come without added stress, though. She says that since receiving her purple belt, she’s felt more pressure, “especially because some people expect [her] to win.” That’s not necessarily a problem, however. “Honestly, I like having that pressure on me,” she says. “It makes me more motivated to win.”
While Khan says that competing at such a high level hasn’t affected her life as a teenager, she acknowledges that her athletic lifestyle has made her grow up faster than her peers. “Being a competitor in jiujitsu has made me more mature. You put yourself in tough situations and you have to learn how to control your emotions,” she says. “Also, traveling for competitions has made me more independent.” Combine that with the fact that Khan trains with so many people that are her age or older when she trains, and it’s no surprise that Khan is mature beyond her years.
Khan’s story is motivational, not only for non-black-belts wondering if they can make a name for themselves at a “lower rank,” but especially for teenage girls looking for a sport that they can succeed at both now and well into their adult years. For these young women especially, Khan shares words of encouragement: “It does not matter how old you are to be a competitor. If jiu-jitsu is what you want to do and you truly love it, then do it! I think training at a young age helped me be more mature, disciplined, and confident as I got older.”
As this teen prodigy looks toward the future (which, in her mind, includes being a black belt World Champion and traveling to teach seminars and compete), she also keeps herself grounded. She takes each challenge as it comes, whether that’s a single Fight 2 Win match or multiple matches at one of the planet’s most prestigious tournaments. It’s the mindset of a successful, but humble competitor who’s wise beyond her years and knows what it takes to succeed both now and years from now.
Watch Khan vs. Mandiau, plus many more exciting matches when Fight 2 Win 126 streams live tonight on FloGrappling!