Perhaps one of the most decorated brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts is hoping to make the same kind of impact on MMA.
She successfully debuted back in 2011 but she struggled with fight cancellations:
“Every time I trained for a fight, the promotion cancelled,” she recalls of her early days. At one point, she was so discouraged, she even thought: “Maybe this is not for me.” she told news asia one.
But since relocating to Singapore and dedicating herself fulltime to MMA things have started to look up:
“I had a great training camp for that fight,” Nicolini told MMA Fighting. “Ever since I moved to Singapore, I focused on getting better for the debut. The fight was in Singapore, so the entire gym was there to watch me compete. I gained more experience since that fight. I still don’t risk standing and trading yet [laughs], but I’m more mature in MMA.”
On Friday morning, Nicolini will step back inside the cage to meet Irina Mazepa at ONE Championship 54 in Manila. Mazepa holds a 2-0 MMA record, but had a career in kickboxing prior to her transition to MMA.
“I watched some of her fights, and my coaches watched everything,” Nicolini said of Mazepa. “She’s a striker and I’m a grappler, so it won’t change anything. The fight will be the same if we fight today or in six months or in a year. So let’s fight now.”
“A clash of styles makes it pretty obvious what every fighter will go for in the fight,” Nicolini says, “but I’ve trained hard and focused on my wrestling. I never had good takedowns in jiu-jitsu, but I’ve worked on my wrestling. I know she probably worked hard on her takedown defenses, too. She might defend my takedown once or twice, but I will manage to get her on the ground.
“I see myself taking her down, passing guard and submitting her.”
Nicolini is adamant that achieving prestigious status in MMA is her goal:
“This is my biggest dream,” she continued. “Be a world champion in jiu-jitsu, with everything I’ve accomplished, and make the transition to MMA, a new sport to me, and do well. I won’t fight as many years as I did in jiu-jitsu, of course, but I want to be as successful as I was in jiu-jitsu.”
Nicolini will step back inside the cage to meet Irina Mazepa at ONE Championship 54 in Manila later today.