Here’s a fun fact you don’t hear about every world class black belt competitor: when she’s not scrapping on the mats, Amanda “Tubby” Alequin essentially runs a miniature farm out of her house. As she joins me for our video call, she’s accompanied by one of her dogs, Zoe, who listens patiently while I eagerly ask Tubby about the rest of her animals.
In total, Tubby owns five dogs – plus a whole coop’s worth of chickens and rabbits – making for a beyond-hefty head count of animals in her home. And that’s not even including the white belts at The People’s Jiu-Jitsu, the jiu-jitsu academy she owns and operates.
Tubby Alequin, however, thrives on wearing multiple hats – and taking care of both the animals at home and the animals in her gym. What’s more, her duties as an academy owner haven’t slowed her competitive career down one bit.
On Friday, July 14, she’ll be making her ONE Championship debut against one of her most celebrated rivals: multiple-time IBJJF world champion Tammi Musumeci, older sister to the great Mikey Musumeci. Tubby and Tammi have been both training partners and competitors – and though Tammi got the better of Tubby in their previous scraps, Tubby’s ready to turn the tables.
“To me, it almost adds more pressure,” says Tubby, of her prior losses to Musumeci. “And also, the fact that she already knows my game, and I already know her game – it’s almost like, ‘Is she gonna hit me with the element of surprise and switch it up?’ Because I know that I’m working on a lot of new things, a lot of different things. I’m adamant on not making the same mistakes again.”
Reflecting on her most recent loss to Musumeci at WNO, Tubby thoughtfully adds, “I was expecting most of the girls to be going for leglocks. And that’s not really Tammi’s game.” As a result, when the two matched up, Tubby’s attempts to shut down Musumeci’s game didn’t work as efficiently as it had for the other women in their division.
“I feel like I generalized her with the rest of the roster,” says Tubby, “but her game is just completely different. Not saying that she’s one-dimensional – because she’s not, she’s very well-rounded – but man, she’s good at what she does. And that’s her ‘bolo, and her inversion. Whereas I was more concerned about the girls throwing up heel hooks, leg locks, going after my feet. Meanwhile, she was inverting, so I felt like I was controlling the wrong legs – not cutting angles like I should have, going straight in instead of taking my time and tiring her out.”
Tubby’s long been impressed by the discipline and methodical brilliance of both Musumeci siblings. She describes them as “robots” – almost machinelike in their precision. “I took a lot from Tammi in training with her – and her brother as well,” says Tubby. “How they drill: it’s high paced, and every move is calculated, and everything is drilled to perfection. I feel like I took that from them, and implemented that in my game.”
In Tubby’s eyes, that’s also what makes Tammi so dangerous. “[She’s] got the system down when it comes to taking the back – and I am a victim of that,” adds Tubby with self-deprecating good humor. “So I feel like the most dangerous part of her is that she’s really sticky. She’s very sticky with her hooks, and she can get really small [without over-exposing herself].”
Still, Tubby’s no slouch herself – as her recent much-discussed domination over the larger and notoriously physically powerful Alex Enriquez at WNO recently demonstrated.
“With Alex, I knew that she was going to be bigger than me – she was going to cut to 125, and I was just barely making it to 120, fully clothed when I weighed in. So my focus with my strength training [in camp] was doing my circuit training – for fifteen minutes, I’d do nonstop high-intensity maximum effort. And then with the power part of it, I was still doing pretty well. I was front squatting about 145 pounds for ten reps.
“And we’re friends, so I’d see some of her clips on Instagram, and I’d be like, ‘Man, we’re pulling the same weight!’” It gave Tubby confidence in her own physical strength – and on match day, despite the size difference, she felt like the stronger athlete between the two of them in terms of raw power.
Indeed, despite competing primarily as a light-featherweight, Tubby has never let size or strength intimidate her, whether on the competition mats, or among the competitive young men who call her “professor” over at The People’s Jiu-Jitsu.
She’s also not afraid to lay down the law – physically, if need be – among her rowdier students. While male black belt coaches have been known to dish out some tough love toward an over-aggressive student by doling out a particularly hard roll, some smaller female coaches hesitate to do the same, due to concerns over size and strength differences.
“I have Napoleon syndrome,” she confides, chuckling. “So the same way that guys [discipline aggressive students], that’s how I do it. If I see one of my guys being too gritty or too mean, I’m like, ‘Oh, you want to play that game? Okay, you’re going with me now.’”
“I like to read the room,” she adds. “If I see a newcomer come in from another gym, and they have good intentions, that’s all fine and dandy, we’ll have a good training session. But if they come in with malicious intentions, and they’re trying to rip my guy’s foot off, or my guy’s arm off, I’m like, ‘Alright, you’re going with me next.’ And I’ll impose myself on them, so they’ll know, ‘Hey, you’re not coming into my house and stealing my milk and cookies.’ No one deserves that, you know? So I use the old school way of establishing my authority.”
How does she balance her obligations as a professional competitor with her obligations as a coach and gym owner – not to mention the human mama to all those animals?
Tubby laughs at the question. “My husband and I have a routine,” she tells me. “We wake up in the morning, we let all of our dogs out to go potty, and the sun isn’t up – so by the time we’re back from morning class, which is usually from six to seven-thirty – it’s usually about eight o’clock, which is when we let the dogs out again. And then we all go out to the back yard. We let out our chickens, we check out our bunnies, we give them feed, we refill their water, we come back inside, we feed our dogs, we feed ourselves – and then usually around eleven or noon, we’ll lift out on the patio, and then we’ll let the dogs out again.”
Rinse and repeat. According to Tubby, getting to lift outside while handling the animal care adds its own unique benefits for her conditioning. The Florida heat always makes her sweat, and pulling heavy weight amidst that kind of adversity makes her feel stronger. “It’s terrible sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world – I love to sweat. And the heat, feeling like you’re about to suffocate, is so similar to when you’re in a hot no-gi match, and someone’s pressuring on top of you.”
As gym owners who don’t always have access to their own black belt professor, Tubby and her husband have also learned to become their own coaches – by studying instructionals, building their own curriculum, and watching tape.
It’s a system that’s worked remarkably well for Tubby’s competitive career thus far – and she hopes to prove its mettle still further on the ONE Championship stage this weekend. “I’ve had a lot of people help me prepare for [Tammi],” says Tubby.
More than anything, she’d love to settle the score between them. “I don’t like losing,” admits Tubby. “I don’t. I know it’s part of the game, but I’m just someone where it’ll settle with me. It’ll eat me alive. And I know that’s not healthy, but I turn it into fuel.” She smiles widely. “So I’m going in there with a positive mindset.”
To support Tubby, follow her on Instagram, and check out her sponsors:
Most importantly, catch Tubby’s showdown against Tammi Musumeci on Friday, July 14 on ONE Fight Night 12, streaming at 8 PM EST from Amazon Prime Video.