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Michelle Zonato Nicolini - BJJ Hall of Famer

Michelle Zonato Nicolini - BJJ Hall of Famer

1. Michelle Nicolini Details

Michelle Nicolini Details
Given Name Michelle Zonato Nicolini
Nickname N/A
Born São Paulo, Brazil
Current Residence Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth January 5, 1982
Age 40 Years
Nationality Brazilian
Last Fight 3 September 2021
Weight Class Light Featherweight
Weight 53 kg / 118 lbs
Height 5'5" (165cm)
Reach 65’’ (165.1cm)
Career Disclosed Earnings N/A
Fighting out of São Paulo, Brazil
Foundational Style Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
FavoriteTechnique Triangle & Toe Hold; Shin and Shin Guard
Pro MMA Record 6-3-0 (W-L-D)
Rank 3rd Degree BJJ Black Belt
Awarded By Robert Drysdale
Head Coach Robert Drysdale
Lineage Mitsuyo Maeda -> Carlos Gracie -> Helio Gracie -> Rolls Gracie -> Romero Cavalcanti -> Leonardo Vieira -> Robert Drysdale -> Michelle Nicolini
Team/Association Checkmat
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2. Michelle Nicolini Biography

2.1. Who is Michelle Nicolini?

Who is Michelle Nicolini

Michelle Zonato Nicolini is a BJJ Champion who also competes in MMA. She was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil on the 5th of January 1982. Michelle Nicolini was one of the best women BJJ black belt fighters. Becoming the most synonymous BJJ women fighter. Michelle Nicolini is one of the skill-oriented and passion-driven female BJJ practitioners in the world who has relocated to Singapore to coach at Evolve MMA. Michele Nicolini was the 8-times Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion with 20 years of fighting experience. Having built up years of experience as an expert grappler, she competed in the One Championships as her first professional MMA competition.

2.2. When Did She Start BJJ?

Michelle Nicolini was born on the 5th of January, 1982 in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her start in the martial art world was related to Capoeira, which she started at the age of 14. She stopped training Capoeira 3 years later and changed her focus to Jiu Jitsu, training under Robert Drysdale, who awarded her the black belt.

Nicolini always liked to fight, even with her sister, when she was a kid. Back in her early days of training, she wanted more competition to test her technical abilities. She went for judo but her friend Robert told her about BJJ. She decided to give it a try to BJJ and with the very first training lesson, she fell in love with the BJJ training.

2.3. Early Life

Nicoloni was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She lived in a small city. She used to play outside all the time. Nicolini was mischievous among her siblings and always ready for battling with them. Her parents enrolled her in martial arts to give her an out for her aggression. At the age of 17, she joined BJJ training for learning discipline and self-defence.

When Michelle Nicolini was a white belt, she lost her first three competitions, and felt frustrated and thought about not competing anymore. Certainly, it didn’t happen and after a few months, she tried again and started her winning streak. Worlds used to have brown and black belts fighting in the same division, (in 2006), and as a brown belt, she had to face a black belt in the final. Nicolini submitted her to become the 1st time World Champion of the Brown and Black belt division. But it has been 20 years of training and fighting, so many challenges to get here.

2.4. When Did She Start MMA?

Among the most decorated competitors, Nicolini was one who began her MMA journey with a professional cage debut in 2011. Furthermore, Nicolini claimed that there was an organisation in Peru called Inka Fight, and they contacted her to fight there. Although she had never done any stand-up martial art before besides Capoeira at the age of 14. Nicolini accepted this debut offer because she loved adventurers. It was not easy.

With fully focused on her dreams of World Championship glory in the cage, she retired from the BJJ competition in 2016 and is reaping the benefits. She is determined to utilize her world-beating BJJ to devastating effect.

When Did She Start MMA

2.5. 3rd Degree Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu

Michell Nicolini is a multiple-time black belt World Champion in BJJ, who recently relocated to Singapore to train with Evolve Fight Team. She spent 20 years of blood and sweat and became 3rd degree, a black belt holder, and 8 times World Champion.

Black Belt Summary

Year Event Belt Rank
2013 World Championship Black Belt
2014 World Championship Black Belt
2012 World Championship Black Belt
2012 World Pro Cup Black Belt
2012 European Championship Black Belt
2012 European Championship Black Belt
2011 World Championship Black Belt
2011 PanAmerican Championship Black Belt
2010 World Championships Black Belt
2010 World No-Gi Championship Black Belt
2010 Pan American Championship Black Belt
2008 World No-Gi Championship Black Belt 
2008 Pan American Championship Black Belt 
2007 World Championships Black Belt Absolute  Gold
2007 World Championships Black Belt  Gold
2006 World Championships Black Belt  Gold

3. Michelle Nicolini Professional Career Highlights

Michelle Nicolini Professional Career Highlights

3.1. Early Career

Michell Nicolini is the world's coolest grappler and started her early career in jiu-jitsu when her friend told her about BJJ. She started training in BJJ at age of 17 and fought her first professional BJJ debut in 2006 at World Championship. Her first debut ended up with great success.

After 5 years of great success in BJJ, she sizzled her success in MMA at the next level. In 2011, in her professional MMA debut, she won against Mejia in the first round which was ultimately successful in accelerating her MMA career.

3.2. Pro BJJ Combats

Nicolini made her pro BJJ combats and won these titles to shine her BJJ career with Gold Medals.

  • The IBJJF champion won gold at the black belt level. She is an 8-time World Champion
  • She is a 3-time Euro Championship winner
  • 3-Time Brazilian Nationals Champion
  • 3-Time Pan American Championship Champion

3.3. Pro MMA Combats

Pro MMA Combats

Nicolini is a multiple-time ADCC Submission Wrestling Gold winner. Nicolini signed One Championship to continue her MMA career. After winning her first debut match in MMA in 2011, she returned in 2014 and secured a win with an armbar submission against Lanchana Green. Her One Championship contract gave her huge success in her MMA career.

Later she signed with Legacy Fighting. In her debut promotion match, she dominated Norma and has not fought since. Her success and devastating win against the master of destiny gave her the inaugural belt earlier this year with a decision OF victory over Japanese Yamaguchi.

4. Michelle Nicolini BJJ Championship and Accomplishment

Michelle Nicolini BJJ Championship and Accomplishment

4.1. Main Achievements

Year Events Positions
2014 IBJJF World Championship 1st
2013 ADCC World Championship 1st
2013 IBJJF World Championship 1st
2012 IBJJF World Championship 1st
2012 UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro 1st
2012 IBJJF European Open 1st
2011 IBJJF World Championship 1st
2011 IBJJF Pan Championship 1st
2010 IBJJF World Championship 1st
2010  IBJJF World Championship NoGi 1st
2010 IBJJF Pan Championship 1st
2008  IBJJF World Championship No-Gi 1st
2008 IBJJF Pan Championship 1st
2007 IBJJF World Championship 1st
2006 IBJJF World Championship 1st

4.2. Main Achievement Medal Record

Year Events Weight Medal
2022 European Master Championship 64 KG Gold
2018 European No-Gi Championship 56.5 KG Gold
2018 European No-Gi Championship ABS Gold
2017 ADCC World Championship 60 KG Bronze
2017 Pan American No-Gi Championship 61.5 KG Gold
2017 Pan American No-Gi Championship ABS Gold
2016 Brazilian National Championship 58 KG Gold
2015 ADCC World Championship 60 KG Silver
2014  World Championship 59 KG Gold
2014 European Championship 58 KG Gold
2013 ADCC World Championship 60 KG Gold
2013 ADCC South American Championship 60 KG Gold
2013  World Championship 74 KG Gold
2012 European Championship 74 KG Gold
2012 European Championship ABS Gold
2012 Brazilian National Championship ABS Gold
2011 ADCC World Championship 60 KG Silver
2011 ADCC South American Championships 60 KG Gold
2011  World Championship 59 KG Gold
2011 Pan American Championship 58 KG Gold
2011 Brazilian National Championship 64 KG Gold
2011 Worlds No-Gi Championship 56.5 KG Gold
2011 Worlds No-Gi Championship ABS Gold
2010  World Championship 59 KG Gold
2010 Pan American Championship 53 KG Gold
2010 Worlds No-Gi Championship ABS Gold
2008 Pan American Championship 53 KG Gold
2008 Worlds No-Gi Championship 61.5 KG Gold
2007  World Championship 53KG Gold
2007  World Championship ABS Gold
2007  World Championship 74 KG Gold
2006  World Championship 53KG Gold

5. Michelle Nicolini Historic Fights

5.1. Michelle Nicolini Defeats Masters of Destiny Angela Lee


Michelle Nicolini’s win against Angela Lee boosted her confidence. She secured a welcoming victory in the fourth round by decision. Some people predicted this to be a teeth-grinding competition of grappling and striking, but the 37 years old Brazilian proved them wrong by showcasing a one-sided dominant exhibition of a premium set of skills and advanced techniques.

Nicolini transitioned into a full mount halfway through the round and seemed to be one step ahead of her rival every time she tried to escape. Lee tried to make the match stand up to the battle in the final round. After 15 minutes of the fight, a superb technical exchange put both fighters on the ground, the Sao Paula native earned the decision in her favor and was declared a winner.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Round
2019 ONE Championship: Masters of Destiny Angela Lee Win Decision 3

5.2. Michelle Nicolini Vs Cristina Mejia


Michelle Nicolini had her MMA debut with one of pro fighters as a Flyweight. Michelle Nicolini defeated Cristina Mejia via armbar submission in the first round. The battle happened in Surco Rose Garden Coliseum at Inka FC 11. Nicolini put the slick ground game to work by swiftly tapping out local fighter Cristine Mejia. In 2011, Nicolini had the opportunity to fight against Cristina Mejia on the short notice of 10 days. She was ready and prepared for the opportunity.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Round
2011 Inka FC 11 Cristina Meija Win Armbar 1

5.3. Michelle Nicolini Vs Xiong Jing Nan


Nicolini fought the Championship Title battle against Xion Jing Nan in Singapore. In the event, Xiong Xing NAN took down Michelle Nicolini via decision in the World Championship. It was clear that Nan already knew that Nicolini would take the fight to the ground and Nan did not allow Nicolini to strangle her during the whole fight and ultimately won the match.  Xian Jing Nan scored a dominant victory over Michelle Nicolini.

This was the most memorable bout for Michelle Nicolini because Xian Jing Nan didn't fall for her ground battle.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Round
2021 ONE Championship: Empower Xiong Jing Nan Loss Decision 5

6. Michelle Nicolini Promotions and Optimal Retirement

6.1. IBJJF Hall of Fame

IBJJF Hall of Fame

Michelle Nicolini was one of the greatest women in BJJ to ever compete in Jiu Jitsu. She made her exceptionally dedicated abilities on the floor and on the stage where she always unleashed battle moves. 

In 2014, Michelle Nicolini was inducted to the most honorable position in the IBJJF Hall of Fame for not only her victories on the mat but off the mat in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The IBJJF inducted her into the BJK hall of fame which is reserved for those who have won the greatest titles on the mats but have also made positive contributions to their communities and have upheld the values of jiu-jitsu to the highest degree.

6.2. BJJ Optimal Retirement

Michelle Nicolini has just retired from the BJJ competitions following the defeat in the finals of the division in Worlds. Eight-times World Champion Michelle Nicolini has announced her resignation after the 2016 IBJJF World Championship but would continue her participation in the ADCC No-Gi Competitions.

She retired from BJJ to focus on her MMA career and to expand her experience in cage tournaments as it is not easy and she loves to accept the challenges to outgrow her previous versions.

7. Michelle Nicolini BJJ Gi and No-Gi Tournaments

7.1. Michelle Nicolini’s Gi Tournaments

Michelle Nicolini’s Gi Tournaments

Michelle Nicolini Gi Tournaments at the Black Belt Level

Years Gi Tournaments Medal
2017 ADCC World Championship Bronze
2015 ADCC World Championship Silver
2014 Euros Championship Gold
2013 ADCC World Championship Silver
2013 ADCC South American Championship Gold
2011 ADCC World Championship Gold
2011 Brazilian National Championship Gold
2008 Pan American Championship Gold

7.2. Michelle Nicolini’s No-Gi Tournament

Michelle Nicolini’s No-Gi Tournament

Michelle Nicolini No-Gi Tournaments at Black Belt Level

Years No-Gi Tournaments Medal
2018 IBJJF Euros No-Gi Championship Gold
2018 IBJJF Euros No-Gi Championship Gold
2017 IBJJF Pan Ams No-Gi Championship Gold
2017 IBJJF Pan Ams No-Gi Championship Gold
2011 IBJJF World No-Gi Championship Gold
2011 IBJJF World No-Gi Championship Gold
2010 IBJJF World No-Gi Championship Gold
2008 IBJJF World No-Gi Championship Gold

8. Michelle Nicolini Professional Record Breakdown

8.1. Grappling Record Breakdown

Grappling Record Breakdown
41 Matches Wins: 27 Losses: 13
By Advantages 0 1
By Submission 13 5
By Decision 2 0
By Points 6 3
By OT 0 1
Other 6 3

8.2. Submissions Technique Record

Submission Method Wins: 13 Losses: 5
Armbar 4 2
Choke 0 1
Choke From the Back 0 1
RNC 0 1
Toehold 6 0
Heel Hook 1 0
Triangle ArmBar 1 0
Foot Locker 1 0

8.3. BJJ Fight History

Year Opponent W/L/D Event Method Weight
2022 R. Guedes L SUBVERSIV 7 Choke N/A
2019 V. English W Polaris 12 Toehold N/A
2019 T. Musumeci W Pantheon Invitational Points 60 KG
2019 M. Dern L Pantheon Invitational Points 55 KG
2019 M. Dern W Pantheon Invitational Points Featherweight
2019 M. Dern D Pantheon Invitational N/A  Draw N/A
2019 L. Santos L Pantheon Invitational Other Light Featherweight
2019 B. Mesquita L Pantheon Invitational Points ABS
2019 A. Schmitt W Pantheon Invitational Toehold Featherweight
2019 M. Dern L Pantheon Invitational Choke From the Back Featherweight
2019 B. Basilio L Pantheon Invitational Points N/A
2019 S. Yamamoto W Pantheon Invitational Points 60 KG
2019 M. Dern L Pantheon Invitational Penalty 60 KG
2019 M. Dern W Pantheon Invitational Armbar Featherweight
2019 R. Yuasa W Pantheon Invitational Points 60 KG
2019 J. Gonçalves W Pantheon Invitational Other Light Featherweight
2019 L. Alzuguir W Pantheon Invitational Heel Hook 60 KG
2018 L. Munslow W IBJJF European NoGi Championships Other Lightweight
2018 L. Munslow W IBJJF European NoGi Championships Other ABS
2017 B. Mesquita W ADCC World Championships Other 60 KG
2017 R. Yuasa W ADCC World Championships Decision 60 KG
2017 E. Karppinen W ADCC World Championships Points 60 KG
2016 M. Dern L World JiuJitsu IBJJF Championship Advantage Featherweight
2016 A. Souza W Brazilian National JiuJitsu Championship Other Featherweight
2016 A. Oliveira W Abu Dhabi World Professional JiuJitsu Championship 2016 Points 62 KG
2015 G. Matuda L Polaris 2 Armbar N/A
2015 A. Galvao W Polaris 1 Toehold 70 KG
2014 M. Gonzalez W IBJJF Madrid Open Other Lightweight
2013 L. Fernandes L Brazilian National JiuJitsu Championship Other Super Heavyweight
2013 L. Alzuguir L Brazilian National JiuJitsu Championship Other ABS
2012 M. Ribeiro W World JiuJitsu IBJJF Championship Other Featherweight
2012 K. Guimarães W Abu Dhabi World Pro Toehold Bantamweight
2011 N. Easton W World JiuJitsu NoGi IBJJF Championships Other Featherweight
2011 B. Mesquita W World JiuJitsu NoGi IBJJF Championships Toehold ABS
2011 L. Alzuguir W ADCC World Championships Decision 60 KG
2011 J. Wilson W ADCC World Championships Toehold 60 KG
2011 K. Guimarães L ADCC World Championships RNC 60 KG
2011 F. Borges W Pan JiuJitsu IBJJF Championship Triangle ArmBar Featherweight
2010 B. Mesquita W World JiuJitsu NoGi IBJJF Championships Foot Locker ABS
2010 B. Mesquita L World JiuJitsu NoGi IBJJF Championships Armbar Lightweight
2008 G. Bermudes W World JiuJitsu NoGi IBJJF Championships Other Lightweight

8.4. MMA Submission Record

MMA Record Breakdown
9 Matches Wins: 6 Losses: 3
By Submission 5 0
By Decision 1 3

8.5. MMA Fight History

Year Opponent W/L Methods Events Round
2021 Xiong Jingnan L Decision ONE Championship: Empower 5
2019 Angela Lee W Decision ONE Championship: Masters of Destiny 3
2018 Tiffany Teo L Decision ONE Championship: Heart of the Lion 3
2018 Iryna Kyselova W RNC ONE Championship: Visions of Victory 1
2017 Irina Mazepa W Armbar ONE Championship: Kings of Destiny 1
2016 Mona Samir W RNC ONE Championship: Defending Honour 1
2014 Norma Rueda Centre L Decision Legacy FC 36 3
2014 Lanchana Green W Armbar M4TC 13: Nemesis 1
2011 Cristina Meija W Armbar Inka FC 11 N/A

9. Top Fights (Video Links)

Michelle Nicolini on retirement from BJJ

Every Michelle Nicolini Win

Tiffany Teo vs. Michelle Nicolini

BJJ Scout: Michelle Nicolini Guard Study

Michelle Nicolini MMA Half Guard BJJ Breakdown

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