Traditionally, the female rooster weight division has been the most overlooked division in jiu-jitsu, and for good reason. Not only is it one of the most recent weight classes created in the sport, but it has also suffered from a severe shortage of representation at the highest level of the IBJJF circuit. Adding to that the fact that, up until 2019, Rikako Yuasa had ruled this category unopposed for nearly the entirety of its existence, and you could understand why the general public turned its attention elsewhere. But that was then. This is now.
Over the past couple of years, a new generation of roosterweight talent has broken through the ranks. The first to do so was the current IBJJF World Champion, Mayssa Bastos. Since Mayssa, we’ve seen other talented athletes joining the ranks with elite quality grappling, namely Jessa Khan (AOJ), Brenda Larissa (Alliance Matriz), Grace Gundrum (10P Bethlehem), and Eduarda “Duda” Tozoni (The Match Champ).
Still a brown belt, 19-year-old Tozoni may not yet have the recognition of her black belt peers, but the quality of her work is undeniable. An IBJJF European Open, AJP Grand Slam (Rio de Janeiro [mixed division]), AJP Brazilian National Pro (mixed division) and CBJJ Brazilian National (2x) champion, Tozoni’s clashes with #3 rooster black belt in the world, Brenda Larissa have been one of the most interesting rivalries to follow as of late. The two athletes have faced 3x over the past 6 months in brown and black belt mixed divisions, with the score being 2 victories for Tozoni and 1 for Larissa.
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There are many peculiar facets to Duda’s career. One of those is that unlike the names mentioned above, Tozoni does not train at a world-famous gym. Her entire career has been built from her native town of Blumenau in the Brazilian State of Santa Catarina, training with coach Marcos Cunha, Eduarda’s very first instructor, who’s been guiding the talented athlete since she was 11 years old.
Although small, Blumenau is not depleted of jiu-jitsu history. Marcos Cunha has developed a stellar program from his The Match Champion Academy (TMC) over the years, with particular success in the women’s division. Every day Tozoni shares the mats with other outstanding grapplers such as IBJJF black belt 2x world champion Ana Carolina Schmitt and South American gold medalist Anna Negri. Also, part of TMC female workgroup are rising juvenile talents Mila Reis and Carol Fernandes.
According to Tozoni, one of the keys to the team’s success is the fact that there are many tough female athletes to train with: “The female training is essential to our evolution as a squad, the fact that we are able to train with more realistic weight classes,” Duda explained to BJJ Heroes in an interview performed in April 2021. But don’t be mistaken, “we all still train at the mixed [male/female] competition class, also“.
Tozoni first called BJJ Heroes’ attention after watching her, as a 17YO purple belt rooster weight, beating (and nearly submitting) a seasoned heavyweight black belt in competition. Since then the crafty lasso-guard specialist has continuously grown her range of techniques and her medals tally. Were it not for the current pandemic, Tozoni would most certainly be widely regarded as one of the sport’s most formidable contenders.
With her extensive curriculum, Duda Tozoni is lining up to be a real challenge to Mayssa Bastos‘ current dominance over the division. Adding to her athletic prowess, the Santa Catarina native is also a promoter’s dream thanks to her strong social media presence. Currently, Eduarda is only a few hundred followers shy of Bastos on Instagram, Bastos who has the biggest following in the 107 lbs division.
With so many things going for Tozoni, it is hard not to predict a bright future ahead for the TMC prospect, hopefully soon, once the world turns the page on the current pandemic, we will be able to see her full potential on display.