The Alliance team, particularly its headquarters in São Paulo – commonly referred to as “Matriz”, has been a hotbed of talent for many generations. Many would say it has been the most consistent grappling school over the past couple of decades, producing high-end talent such as Rubens Cobrinha, Marcelo Garcia, Lucas Lepri, Michael Langhi, Bruno Malfacine, Isaque Bahiense, and more. An absolute plethora of jiu-jitsu royalty, and once again the gym is preparing another big star for the big stage, brown belt light-featherweight Brenda Larissa.
Just 20 years old, Brenda shocked the world last month with her performance at the UAEJJF Grand Slam in Los Angeles, where she beat the current black belt reigning World (gi and nogi), Pan (gi and nogi), Brazilian Nationals, European Open and Abu Dhabi World Pro champion, Mayssa Bastos, the #1 light-featherweight athlete on the planet. For the Manaus native, there was no doubt she could do it: “I knew it would be tough given what she’s accomplished in the sport” said Brenda to BJJ Heroes, “but that as the strategy, double pull, come on top and work from there for the pass”.
Brenda started training at a small social project in Manaus led by coach Melqui Galvão, the same instructor who developed some of the top prospects from that region, namely Fabricio Andrey, Diogo Reis, and Mica Galvão.
Destined for greatness with an array of important titles conquered domestically, Larissa became part of coach Melqui’s competition team in 2016. The goal was to find resources to push the team to the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in California that year, but unfortunately, Brenda’s US visa was denied. “Every dream has its obstacles,” said Brenda, “and mine was no different”. Although the young prodigy was denied entrance, other colleagues were allowed in the northern hemisphere country, and “coach Melqui did his best with the accepted athletes. While in the US, Melqui met ‘Cobrinha’ [Rubens Charles], and it was through this interaction that we linked up with Alliance”.
A STAR IS BORN
In 2017 Brenda’s US visa was accepted, and after having titles in the Brazilian Nationals and Abu Dhabi World Pro, Larissa could finally compete in the most important gi tournament on Earth, the World Championship, which she won in the blue belt category that year.
Her incredible talent was immediately spotted by the senior management of the Alliance team, and shortly after Brenda earned her purple belt, she was offered a full scholarship at the Alliance HQ in São Paulo, which she took. There Brenda started learning from one of the top coaching staff in the world, under Michael Langhi, Fábio Gurgel and Fernando Andrade Reis.
Currently, Brenda is solely focussing on her jiu-jitsu career, being one of the figureheads of the younger generation being produced in São Paulo. After conquering another world title in 2018 (purple belt), Larissa had a minor slip-up at the “Mundial” this year, losing to the champion by 1 advantage right at the end of the bout. She will come back stronger, no doubt, as that is the “Manaurara” way.
Keep your eyes peeled for this, she has all the ingredients to become a big player in the upcoming years.