Content warning: The following article details the story of an alleged sexual assault of a minor.
Mandy Schneider was sixteen years old when she decided to take a superfight at Submission Hunter Pro 60. It was, as far as first superfights go, the perfect opportunity, and for a great cause as well. Mandy, a blue belt who’d been training for three years at the time, was to be part of an all-female card that would benefit The Rose Houston — an organization that supports women’s access to breast cancer diagnostic and treatment services. But the night before she stepped out onto the stage, her dream of winning her first match at blue belt turned into a nightmare.
Mandy first gave the world a glimpse of her story in a statement to ADCC head organizer Mo Jassim following the news that Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu and Vagner Rocha had acknowledged interactions with Marcel Goncalves, who was arrested for felony sexual assault in 2018. In an exclusive interview with the Jiu-Jitsu Times, she’s now sharing the story of her alleged sexual assault by her coach and the people that she says manipulated her into her silence.
Image Source: Mike “The Truth” Jackson
At the time of SHP 60 at the end of October 2020, Mandy, 16 at the time, was training under Rodrigo da Costa Oliveira, who earned his black belt from Abreu. She says that the two drove to the event together in what she perceived as a normal interaction — a coach doing his job by traveling to an event to support his student. “How I got there alone with him was ‘normal,’ you know? Separate rooms with my coach. It wasn’t even supposed to be just us going at the time, but you know, stuff happens last minute,” Mandy told the JJT.
Mandy says, though, that less than thirty minutes into the drive, Oliveira — who was 29 at the time — remarked that he’d forgotten his sleep medication. This, too, was nothing remarkable on the surface, as Mandy recalls her coach mentioning his insomnia in the gym. “I told him to go back and get it, because if you can’t sleep, you’re, like, useless to coach me. So I kind of made a joke there, and he said, ‘Oh, I’ll just get wine to sleep,’ and I was just like, ‘Ok, whatever works for you doesn’t affect me, I guess.’”
Initially, Mandy says, nothing out of the ordinary happened upon their arrival at the hotel. Coach and student went into their separate rooms, and Mandy says they didn’t even see each other until he texted her that it was time to go to weigh-ins, where photographer Hosanna Rull captured a photo of them sitting together.
Image source: Hosanna Rull
Afterward, they went to eat at a Brazilian steakhouse, and the red flags started to show up with the cheque. Mandy says she offered to pay for her part, but Oliveira declined. “I was like, ‘But that’s a lot of money. I’m a student.’ And he was like, ‘No, no, it’s fine.’ And in my mind now, looking back at it, I think he thought of it as, like, a date or something. He refused to let me pay, and I said, ‘Well, I’m at least going to pay for the tip,’ so I put money down for the tip,” she says.
On the way back to the hotel, Mandy says that Oliveira made a stop at a liquor store to buy the wine that he said he needed to fall asleep. “He said, ‘Are you gonna come in?’ and I said, ‘No, I’ll wait in the car, because I don’t want to go inside a really shady liquor store.’ And conveniently, he was taking a long time in this store, and when he came out, he said, ‘Oh, I lost the card I bought the wine with because it fell through the register,’ or something. ‘Oh, but it’s ok, I have another one.’ So conveniently, he lost the card he bought the alcohol with.”
She continues, “We go back to the hotel rooms — again, separate rooms — and a few hours go by, and I texted him and said, ‘Hey, I don’t have any water, can we go get some?’ And he called me, and said, ‘Yes, we’ll get water,’ and that’s when he told me that when we came back, we’d watch Fight 2 Win.’”
Mandy says that while she and her coach were getting more water, he started telling her about a game that he’d played in Brazil. “Someone would say a word in English, and if you couldn’t say it in Portuguese, you’d get hit on the head or something,” she says. “And I’m telling you about that game because that’s the game he used to…” She trails off. “So that’s why I’m saying that.”
“He used my own sport against me.”
Upon returning to the hotel, Mandy says that Oliveira brought the water into his room. “If I wanted my water, I had to go into his room. And as soon as I stepped into that room, my body got a weird sensation. It was dark. The only light on was the bathroom light in the corner. And before I could think about leaving — I was almost like, ‘I’m gonna go back to my room’ — he said, ‘Oh wait, can you help me with the TV?’ So I go try to help to put the Fight 2 Win on the TV, and he’s like, ‘Oh no, it’s fine, I’ll put it on my phone. Sit here on this couch.’ And to me, you know, it’s fine, I guess. Nothing alarming went off. He was my coach. In my mind, I was a very innocent person. I couldn’t imagine anything happening. I didn’t.”
As Oliveira and Mandy watched the event on the couch, she says that he soon opened his bottle of wine, poured himself a drink, and finished the glass. “I never asked for one. I never asked him to pour me one, and he gets up for a second glass. And he had a lot of nicknames for me — a lot of pet names, now that I look back at them — and one of the nicknames was ‘Chicken,’ because I’m a very skinny person. And he was like, ‘Hey, Chicken. Do you want a glass?’ And I was like, ‘Do I want a glass of wine the night before my fight? Uh…’ Then he poured me one. And in my mind, I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m not really gonna drink it, but ok.’ So he was drinking his, and I was like, ‘Fine, I’ll take a sip or two, I guess.’
“I was never really — I was sixteen. I wasn’t someone who would drink and go out and party or stuff like that. And he told me, ‘You’re drinking so slow. Oh my god.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t drink.’ He was like, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot, you’re sixteen,’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t drink.’”
It was at this point, Mandy says, that Oliveira proposed that they play the aforementioned game together. The rules were simple: If he said a word in Portuguese, and Mandy couldn’t say it in English, she had to take a sip of her drink. “I even told him, ‘I’m not going to ever win. I’m going to drink this whole thing,’ and he was like, ‘That’s too bad.’ I really didn’t want to drink anything, and that’s how he got me to do that. It was like, ‘You’re my coach, but ok, I guess.’”
It only took a few sips before Mandy was intoxicated. “I got drunk really fast. I didn’t know exactly what was going on anymore. And that’s when he decided to use the Fight 2 Win to ‘show’ me a jiu-jitsu move. And gradually… at first, I didn’t know what was going on. But I’ll say that… he used my own sport against me, in a way. It started with him rolling with me on the floor. My clothes were still on. But again, no red flags went off because I didn’t know what was going on. I just remember being very tired and thinking, ‘I don’t really want to be here right now. I want to go to bed.’ And then, that transitions into… you can imagine. He puts me on the bed. And that’s when it all happened.”
Mandy says that she was in the room with Oliveira for a total of three hours; she estimates that only forty minutes were spent watching Fight 2 Win and being pressured to drink. “I will say the only thing he didn’t do to me was actually kiss me on the mouth. That’s the one thing he didn’t do to me. I was sure.”
Though Mandy’s thoughts were hazy, she remembers one interaction in particular during the alleged assault. “He told me, ‘You can’t say anything.’ I was like, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘’Cause I’ll get arrested.’ And the tone of his voice was like it excited him to say that. I remember the tone of his voice. And that’s when I realized, this is real. Oh my god.”
And then, “I thought, ‘This is my fault. I should’ve made it more clear. I should’ve stopped this earlier,’ but I wasn’t aware of where this was gonna go, and once things progressed, I was silent… I did, at one point, become so uncomfortable that I said no, and it didn’t matter… I didn’t give him any reactions or anything to where anyone would know it was not consensual. I just remember thinking, ‘Am I supposed to be enjoying this? ‘Cause I’m not.’”
Adding to Mandy’s emotional cyclone was her awareness of her isolation. “I can’t do anything, I can’t go anywhere. I’m in this city alone, he has the car. I have to fight the next day. The next day I have to go out and fight with him in my corner.”
Until this point in the interview, Mandy’s voice has been strong. But when she talks about her superfight and what it meant to her, her voice breaks. “I came here to do one thing, and it meant a lot to me, especially because it was a women’s only card, and I was like, ‘That’s amazing.’ And I let it happen because I couldn’t do anything. He’s a black belt. If he wanted to hurt me, he could. And my thought process was, ‘I have to let this happen because if I don’t let this happen, I can’t go and do what I worked so hard for.’”
Painfully aware of many of the arguments that may be used to discredit or downplay her experience, Mandy emphasizes that the problem wasn’t just that she was sixteen, but that she was too drunk to consent. “After I got through it, I was thinking I was almost glad that I was so drunk, because a lot of the time I felt so numb, and some things I don’t remember as well,” she says. “I wanted to tell people that that’s my thought process. Because to those people saying, ‘It was only rape because you were sixteen’ — it doesn’t matter. If I was eighteen, twenty, thirty, it would’ve still been this.”
“After, I didn’t know what to do, so I showered immediately and I went to my room,” Mandy says. “He actually had the audacity to message me asking to come to my door and use my toothpaste, and I just remember saying, ‘Okay.’ He came to my door, I opened it a crack, just a tiny bit to hand him it, and he says, ‘No, I found it.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ He just handed me these glasses I was wearing before, that I left in his room. He just gave them to me, gave me a tiny smirk, and went to his room.”
“I can’t win.”
What followed for Mandy was a restless night. “Before I fell asleep, I had to brainwash myself that it wasn’t what I thought it was, that it wasn’t rape or sexual abuse, because if I allowed myself to believe that, I feared that I would be so in my head that I couldn’t cope,” she says.
After just an hour of sleep, she woke up and decided to wait for Oliveira to contact her first. “Obviously, we had to get to the fight, and when I woke up the next morning, everything came back all at once, and it was a lot. So the whole trip, I told myself that it’s not this, it’s not that, it’s my fault. I told myself that,” she says. “He never said a word to me the whole morning. We checked out of our hotel at twelve because they make you, and we didn’t have anywhere to go yet, so he –” She laughs incredulously “— took me to the science museum. And the whole time, I’m like, ‘Can you please say something?’ That’s when I realized, he must think I don’t remember. He must think I was so drunk that I don’t remember. So I used that to my advantage. I was like, ‘If he’s not saying anything, I won’t say anything. Maybe it’s not what I thought it was.’
“Even in that science museum, though, I was telling myself all day, ‘Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s fine. It’s my fault, I should’ve been more clear. I should’ve said no more.’ But every time he came near me, I physically felt scared. I wanted to throw up. I don’t know how to describe that feeling. My body knew this person hurt me bad. But I still allowed myself to believe that to protect my own sanity.”
Finally, Mandy and Oliveira went to the event venue, where she says they mostly stayed in the warmup area. “That’s when I told myself, ‘I’m not gonna think about anything.’ And I didn’t. I just zoned out. He was sleeping half the time, we were in a public setting, so I didn’t have to worry about him. I told myself, ‘I came here. I’m going to do what I trained for because I love this sport.’” Here, again, her voice breaks. “So it was very important to me. It was being run by UFC Fight Pass. It was to raise awareness for breast cancer. I fought for this.”
Mandy’s match was well before the main event, but she had time to kill before she stepped out to compete. And one thing in particular stuck out to her. “They were selling liquor at this event — normally they don’t do that at these events, but this one they did — and I remember making a note of that. I did remember, obviously, that [Oliveira] got me drunk, so I made a note to stay away from that area. So then I’m getting loose, I see my opponent, I’m getting ready for them to call my name on the stage, I’m behind the curtain and looking around.”
At this point, there was a commotion — something had happened at the liquor station. “In my statement [to Jassim], I said that [Oliveira] said something to me before I went out there. When they were cleaning up the liquor station, he turned and whispered in my ear moments before the fight, I guess as a joke to me, ‘Oh, no sex.’” She pauses and nods. “Because they were cleaning up the liquor station.”
Mandy didn’t have time to process it, didn’t have time to think — her name was called, and she made the walk onto the stage. “I just knew as I’m on that stage before the fight started… I told myself, ‘I can’t win,’” she says, her voice trembling as she holds back tears. “I was too scared to win because I still had to drive home. And I didn’t want him to take advantage of my happiness and ‘celebrate.’”
Image Source: Hosanna Rull
As Mandy stood on the stage listening to the announcer call her opponent out, she was caught in an impossible storm. “I told myself, ‘I can’t win, but I can’t lose either because then everything was for nothing for me.’ I told myself, ‘I have to get a draw,’ because in these matches, you get draws if you don’t submit. So I made that decision in my head that I had to get a draw, because it was a happy middle.”
In a nail-biter of a match, Mandy did just that, defending submission after submission from start to finish, the commentators remarking on both her resilience and her “unfazed” facial expression. “My current professor, when I showed him my match, said, ‘You look dead.’ I didn’t give any reactions. The commentators even said, ‘It doesn’t bother her.’ Because it didn’t. She could’ve broken my arms multiple times, but she didn’t. All I thought was, ‘I have to get a draw,’ because in my mind, that’s all I can do. Then I did.”
Mandy says she’s been asked how she went out on the stage given, well, everything. And even now, she doesn’t know. “ I just remember I didn’t want to leave that stage, because once I left that stage, I had to be alone with him. I always felt a lot of guilt too, because I felt like I never gave the girl I fought the fight she deserved. But I’ve spoken to her about that, too,” she says.
Image Source: Hosanna Rull
With the match now finished, Mandy collected her thoughts and tried to figure out her next steps. “In my mind, I’m like, ‘Ok, I’m not gonna keep this man around all this event, because he doesn’t deserve to be here. I was very upset, but I was like, ‘Let’s go home. I want to see my family.’” Here, her voice wavers again. “I want to see my family.”
“Was it consensual?”
The drive home was four hours, and with each passing moment, Mandy became more and more frustrated with Oliveira. “He kept acting like everything was fine. And that’s when I said, ‘No. My mind was completely out of the fight.’ And he was like, ‘What do you mean?’ And I said, ‘You know what I mean. My mind was elsewhere. With what happened. What do you expect me to do when we go back?’ And he said, ‘I already told you. I already talked to you about this.’ And I remembered he was referring to when he told me that he could get arrested right before he started to sexually touch me. To him, that’s all he had to say. So that was that.”
Away from the event and back with her family and her team, Mandy still felt alone. “I didn’t want anyone to know. I still at this point felt it was my fault and I should’ve been more clear. So that’s why I didn’t say anything for a while, because I didn’t believe he was in the wrong for the longest time. To me, it was so much easier to blame myself for things. I do that a lot.”
At the time, Mandy worked and trained at two separate gyms within the same franchise. The company was affiliated with Fight Sports, though Oliveira was the only instructor there under Abreu at the time. “I was either on the mats or in the office, either enrolling people and helping with memberships or on the mats helping teach kids. And that’s how I think I formed a close relationship with my instructors because I worked with [Oliveira] all day,” she says. Here, she makes a point to name couple Cody Hudson and Nicole Bilski as managers (but not owners) of the gym.
“I was very close with these people. Cody and Nicole and Rodrigo were like family to me. They taught me a lot of things. So it was very normal that when I came back, us and a few other people we knew went out to eat. I remember Rodrigo brought his wife — who he always called his girlfriend, never wore his ring or anything like that — and I remember I sat across from him, and she was sitting right next to him. And I just couldn’t look at her, especially because then, Nicole brought up the topic of them having kids or something. I choked on my water. I felt guilty. In my mind, it wasn’t ‘Man, you’re with a monster.’ It was ‘Man, he cheated on you,’ because in my mind, it’s my fault. I should’ve said ‘no’ more.”
Mandy got ready to leave, but decided she wanted to speak with Bilski first. She says she texted her asking her to meet in the bathroom, then said her goodbyes. Once Bilski met her in the bathroom, Mandy finally let her guard down. “I cried and told her everything,” she says. “And the first thing she asked me was, ‘Was it consensual?’”
A whirlwind of thoughts blew through Mandy’s mind. “If I say no it wasn’t, he’ll get in trouble. And I’ll be in trouble. Everyone gets in trouble. But also, I’m sixteen. Why is she asking me this?” she recalls thinking in that moment. “I still blamed myself a lot. And of course she was like, ‘I’m so sorry,’ but then she was also like, ‘I have to tell Cody about this. He has to know.’ And again, with her asking if it was consensual, I believed it was my fault. I let this happen. It was my fault. Because she asked me. She was like, thirty, and she asked if it was consensual. And it was like, well, he did all this to me, and I did say ‘no’ at one point, but I should’ve been more persistent. So sure, I guess, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Mandy says that same day, she went to work at the academy where Hudson and Oliveira didn’t work. “I was waiting all day for Cody to text me. I knew in my heart something was wrong, but I was waiting for someone, an adult, to tell me, ‘That was wrong. It’s ok. That was wrong of him.’ And I thought these were two people I trusted and my family trusted,” she says.
In fact, she trusted Bilski and Hudson so much, she confided in them before her own parents. “I didn’t tell my family at first because, as their child, I couldn’t do that to them. I couldn’t face them. So I told those two people, and they were the wrong people to tell, apparently. They chose to protect him over anything.” Mandy says she “begged” Hudson to meet her that day after work, and he and Bilski agreed to meet with her at a local grocery store after they’d finished working at their respective academies.
Before they met, though, Hudson sent Mandy a text telling her that she “cannot say anything to anybody until afte [sic] [they] talk.” She says that she, in turn, asked him not to tell Oliveira that she had spoken to Hudson and Bilski about the situation.
Screenshots provided by Mandy show Hudson emphasizing the “risk” to Oliveira and the academy (censored):
When Mandy did meet up with Bilski and Hudson, she says the conversation shifted the blame onto her. “That conversation was just them telling me that a lot of it was my fault, that I wanted that to happen because I must’ve liked him. Nicole herself told me that you can’t put all this on Rodrigo, and I asked Cody, ‘Am I, like, a whore because I slept with a married man? Are you calling me a homewrecker?’ And that’s when Cody was like, ‘Yeah.’ He made a joke about it. Before they left, he said, ‘You know, you can’t say anything,’ and I said, ‘I know, I know.’ They tried to manipulate me a lot by saying, ‘You can’t say anything because it’s both of your fault. Mostly your fault too, but both of your faults. But also we’re protecting you because people might not believe you.’”
“We have to make sure you’re ok working with him alone.”
Mandy says that Hudson and Bilski had another request for her. “They were like, ‘You need to get closure from Rodrigo so that we can all move on. You need to talk to him about this,’ and I said, ‘I tried. I tried on the car ride home, and he wouldn’t say anything to me.’ So they said ‘No, you have to go talk with him alone then.’ They told me to go talk to him alone. So I did.”
Feeling the burden of a responsibility placed upon her by the people she trusted, Mandy says she texted Oliveira and asked him to meet. “I went to his apartment complex in the parking lot. I wasn’t planning on it; he decided to get in my car and talk to me there. So that’s when I told him, ‘I found out you were married. I didn’t know about that.’ I was kinda weirded out by the fact that he would lie to people about that. And then I was like, ‘Did you think that I wanted something with you? Like, why do you lie about it? You’re married.’”
Then, she told him that Hudson and Bilski knew. “As soon as I said, ‘I told Cody and Nicole,’ his eyes changed. And I hadn’t seen that look on him since the actual abuse-slash-assault took place. So that terrified me. Because he got angry. And started saying all these things like, ‘Why would you do this? I’ll have to leave and go back to Miami or even leave the country. Why would you do that?’ And I was trying to calm it down, just like, ‘Cody won’t tell anyone. I know he won’t tell anyone. They already told me they won’t tell anyone. They told me I can’t tell anyone.’”
Mandy panicked, wondering if Oliveira would run or even hurt her. “Eventually, I was crying because he was scaring me so much, and I just kept repeating myself: ‘I’m not gonna say anything.’ I had one question for him: ‘Why would you do that?’ And he kept avoiding it, and I said, ‘If you’re not going to answer my question, you need to get out of my car.’ And so he got out of my car, and I left, and that was the first private interaction I had with him.”
In the two weeks following the alleged assault, Mandy says that Oliveira tried to act “normal” with her, making her feel like she had to act “normal” around him to avoid getting in trouble. But then, she says, she learned that Hudson met with Oliveira and talked to him about what Mandy had spoken about with them in confidence.
“I was terrified when he told me that he talked to him about this, because I was like, ‘Oh my god, he’s going to lie to you about everything.’ But that’s when Cody tells me to my face, ‘When you look at it, he gave alcohol to you, a minor, and… it’s rape.’ He told me to my face I was raped. And then I didn’t know what to say, and that’s when Nicole jumps in and says, ‘Obviously, with any other situation, we would do something, but we have to protect our careers.’ So [Hudson] was like, ‘We have to make sure you’re ok working with him alone.’”
On the mats, Mandy felt like interactions with Oliveira were virtually unavoidable. “We were training all together in no-gi, and I looked over, and he called me to train with him. Didn’t need to — there were plenty of other people in the room to train with. I’m a blue belt. There’s no reason for you to train with me when there’s a million other black belt men in the room. And they did nothing to stop him from rolling with me. There were a lot of things said to me. Cody and Nicole borderline threatened me and tried to manipulate me, and Rodrigo had no objections as long as I never said anything, which he was convinced that I wouldn’t.”
For two weeks, Mandy stayed silent. “I was scared because I was convinced that I would ruin people’s lives in the gym and then everyone else’s lives, because they said I would. There are so many times that I would be training and in the room with people I trusted, with all my other training partners and these people I considered family. And I just remember thinking, ‘I wish I could tell them.’ I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. People would ask me what was wrong, and I had to tell them, ‘I’m ok.’”
The fear and resentment festered, and she soon began to pull further away from Oliveira, too. “I think Rodrigo could see I wanted nothing to do with him. I think it scared him the more distant I got from him because I think he could see he was slowly losing control of me. This whole time, he kept trying to be the same old person with me, trying to be my professor. And I wouldn’t let him. I told him, ‘Don’t message me unless it’s work. Leave me alone.’”
“He always used to give me rides to train at this gym, and he asked me once during this time for a ride to the gym. And I responded, ‘No, I can’t take you.’ He asked me for a ride. His wife had a car. And he was like ‘Oh, why you being so mean?’ And I said, ‘No, I can’t take you.’” A screenshot provided by Mandy to the Jiu-Jitsu Times shows her declining a ride to Oliveira, with him calling her “chicken” in his request.
Mandy says that Hudson arranged for himself, Oliveira, and Mandy to meet in a public setting. She shared a screenshot of the suggestion with the Jiu-Jitsu Times.
“Cody said, ‘We have to make sure you’re ok working with him, even sometimes alone, and you have to still train with him and be ok with that.’ And obviously, Rodrigo had no objections. And I said ‘Okay.’ The one thing I said was, ‘Don’t ever ask me to give you rides to go train again,’ and that was that.”
“I believed he was gonna kill me.”
As Mandy tried to process what had happened to her, doubts and fears began to creep in about her future in jiu-jitsu as well. “He gave me my blue belt, and this whole time I’m thinking, ‘Did he give it to me for the right reasons?’ And I just kept thinking, ‘I can’t imagine having to have this man as my instructor the rest of my life,’ because that’s what [Hudson and Bilski] told me I’d have to do, or else people would somehow find out. And I couldn’t imagine that.”
Mandy said that while she was at work, Oliveira asked her what time she finished work. “He calls me and says, ‘When you’re done, meet me at my parking lot,’ and I said, ‘At the gym?’ And he said, ‘No, at my apartment complex.’ And when he said that, I got so scared,” she says. “At this point in time, I also had zero evidence of anything.”
She quickly made up an excuse about a “family emergency” to leave work and got in her car, where she began to formulate a plan. “My mind was racing, and I had this gut feeling… I believed he was gonna kill me. And I was terrified. I had no evidence at this point, too, and I was genuinely terrified he was gonna kill me, that when I went there, he was gonna hurt me in some way. And so I was crying on the car ride there. And I told myself, ‘If something happens to me, I’m gonna have something, some kind of proof.’ So I told myself, ‘I’m gonna record him, I’m going to do something, to have something.’ I really thought he was gonna try to kill me or hurt me.”
“I get there, I park my car, I look around, and I don’t see him. So I get out of my car, and I message him and I say, ‘I’m here.’ And I look, and further down I see him in his car. So I go over to his car and I kinda stood outside his car for a tiny bit, and he won’t get out of his car, so I get the idea — he wants me to come in the car.”
Before she got into the car, though, Mandy began to record on her phone. And then, she got the proof she needed.
“During that conversation, it was him trying to ask me if I was ok after everything, how I was doing — he was trying to gain my trust back. He kept asking me how I was, asking to give me a hug. I kept telling him, ‘No, don’t touch me.’ I kept telling him, ‘No, I’m fine, I’m fine.’ Because at this point in time, I’m worried that if I said the wrong thing in that conversation, he would leave or run away. So I was afraid of upsetting him. Because I thought if I told him how I actually felt, he would hurt me. So I tried to stay calm, but in that conversation, I told him, ‘I want nothing to do with you. If I have to be forced to work with you, that’s fine, but I want nothing else to do with you.’”
“So he apologized for what he did to me,” Mandy told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “The only thing I don’t have him admitting to is getting me drunk. People will have to take my word on that.”
Mandy sent snippets of the 10-minute recording to the Jiu-Jitsu Times, which was stopped after Oliveira noticed her phone.
The following is a transcript of the provided conversation:
Mandy: “You got what you wanted out of me, and you still have everything. So why would you feel bad?”
Oliveira: “I feel bad because of the situation, Mandy, you know? The way — how… like…”
Mandy: “Because you think people are mad at you? Or…?”
Oliveira: “No, I…I… I don’t think people are — I don’t know if they are they [sic] mad at…”
Mandy: “I… I don’t know. But why… that’s my thing, is why would you feel bad?”
Oliveira: “No, that’s what I’m asking. If… how are you feeling, you know?”
Mandy: “Terrible. But that doesn’t matter. ‘Cause why would you feel, like… I can tell you on Friday night, I looked at myself in the mirror and I started crying. Because I felt terrible about myself. I wanted to, like, rip off my skin or something. ‘Cause I felt terrible. But, again, that doesn’t matter for you.”
Oliveira: “But why doesn’t it matter for me?”
Mandy: “Why would it?”
Oliveira: “Mandy. Pleeease –”
Mandy: “Please what?”
Oliveira: “I’m sorry. Really.”
Mandy: “I don’t think you are.”
Oliveira: “No, really.”
Mandy: “I don’t know. ‘Cause, again, you only wanted sex out of me, so you… you… got what you wanted. So… I don’t know why you feel bad —”
Oliveira: “So you… you speak like I had one-hundred percent of the… the responsibility of the… what happened.”
Oliveira: “Did I have?”
Mandy: “Not a hundred percent, but a lot of it.”
Oliveira: “I don’t agree.”
Mandy: “Okay. Well, I don’t expect you to. What I’m expecting you to say, like ‘Oh, never happened. I’m just… We’re gonna go back to exactly the way we were before.’ Because –”
Oliveira: “Hooo, I know, Mandy, I understand as well. I understand, of course.”
Mandy: “I mean…”
Oliveira: “I understand you one-hundred percent. For real.”
Mandy: “Mmhmm. Again, like, the whole reason I had lunch today is ‘cause I just wanted to tell you, like, ‘Oh, you don’t need to be worried. Like, you’re not gonna get, like… no one’s gonna find out anything like that. Just… ‘cause… I don’t want people to know.”
Oliveira: “You what?”
Mandy: “I didn’t — I don’t want people to know. Not for you, but for me.”
Oliveira: “You don’t wanna?”
Mandy: “I don’t want people to know what happened. For me.”
Oliveira: “Of course. And me, as well.”
Mandy: “Why — does it bother you if I don’t wanna be friends like that again?”
Oliveira: “You what?”
Mandy: “Does it bother you that I don’t want to go — be friends again?”
Oliveira: “Yeah, I feel bad because of that. You know?”
Oliveira: “I think you are calling someone.”
“So I stopped the recording, but I got what I needed out of that,” Mandy told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “That’s a tough recording. It’s tough for me to hear.”
At this point, Mandy’s mom texted her asking her when she’d be home, and she exited Oliveira’s car and got home safely.
“Oh my god, these people lied to me.”
Sometime after her conversation with Oliveira, the gravity of Mandy’s situation began to hit her. “I really started to tell myself that this isn’t right. I feel this way, I know something’s wrong. I know it’s not my fault, and I just want…” Her voice breaks. “… someone to hug me. I just want someone to hug me and tell me it was ok. Because it was so traumatic to have all these people you trusted, these three people, like family, to betray me like that. Cody and Nicole were so worried about their jobs that they protected him over me.”
At this point, Mandy knew she had to tell someone else, and the person that came to mind was her instructor at the other academy location, where Oliveira, Hudson, and Bilski didn’t work. “I was so scared, I don’t think I should say something to him, tell him about the situation. What if he reacts like those people? But like I said, I just wanted someone to hug me,” she says.
After everyone else had left the gym, Mandy sat with her instructor on the picnic bench outside the gym. “That’s what I said what happened to me in Houston before my fight, and his reaction was of course to hug me and tell me ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘It’s ok.’ And that’s when I realized, oh my god, these people lied to me.”
Mandy’s instructor insisted on contacting the police, but the idea terrified Mandy. “I hate the idea of the police. I couldn’t even tell my parents. I knew if I told the police, my parents would get involved, and at this point, nothing seemed real to me. I knew I had this video but I didn’t know if they’d believe me. Because I don’t think they realized this, but just because you report this, doesn’t mean they always go to jail. It’s a really complicated situation.”
With Mandy adamant about not going to the police, her instructor was firm about approaching the owners of the academies. “I’m still very close to these people today, so I went there and I told them everything. Of course, their reaction was, ‘Police. We have to tell the police, and we have to tell your parents.’ But I was terrified of my parents because I was afraid of hurting them. I couldn’t imagine the pain of having to hear that from your child. I knew that it would break them. So I begged them. I said, ‘Not now. Not yet. I need these people gone. After everything they’ve put me through, I can’t see them again.’ And so that’s when I showed them the recordings as proof, and that’s when they called Cody and Nicole and told them to give the story to them, and [the owners] were like, ‘Y’all are f*cking insane.’”
The Jiu-Jitsu Times has reached out to Hudson and Bilski for comment and has not received a reply; we will update this article if we receive a response.
Mandy says that the academy owners then fired Hudson and Bilski (neither of whom has been charged with a crime in relation to the situation), apologized profusely to her, and begged her to go to the police and her parents. Still, Mandy was “hysterical” and kept refusing. After she went home that night, she says the academy owners contacted Abreu. “All I wanted was for [Oliveira, Hudson, and Bilski] to be gone. I thought if I got the police involved, this would affect me for the rest of my life. Obviously, once Rodrigo was spoken to by the owners and Cyborg, he knew he’d have to leave the country. He knew he wasn’t welcome anywhere anymore. I’m thankful, of course, that they were on my side with that, and at the time I thought that was the best solution, and I don’t regret that because at least I was safe.”
Two days later, Mandy finally made the decision to tell her parents, still insisting that she didn’t want to go to the police. “They didn’t have really anything to say because they were in shock and didn’t want to upset me. I had my sister there to support me, too. Then my dad tells me he went to the detectives. So to everyone saying my parents aren’t involved, they are. Believe me, no one has felt greater guilt than my parents, and they shouldn’t be blamed because he hurt me and I only blame those three people. They’re the ones that really hurt me. My dad was the one who asked Cyborg to revoke his visa. [Abreu] responded very fast, the visa was revoked, he apologized to my dad, and so did the gym owners.”
Then, Mandy finally went to the police and gave her first interview, which lasted three hours. “That was what I was scared of because they’ll make you go into those details, you know? So my case has been reported,” Mandy says, adding that she wants to keep the details of her case between herself, her family, and her attorneys. “It hasn’t even been a year, so of course the legal thing is still getting handled because it takes forever. It’s handled. It’s reported. People don’t need to worry about that. Obviously it sucks, because the only thing I’ve gotten from the police or justice — I’ve only received a teddy bear from the police. The people — Cody and Nicole — the detective on my case still can’t figure out exactly how to charge them. They’re still like, fifteen minutes away from me, and I’m still terrified to see them. People have seen them in places where I’ve been before. That’s why I’m naming them, because if the police can’t help me…” Her voice shakes as she adds, “It’s just awful.”
“I burned it.”
Even though she’s finally been able to acknowledge that the alleged assault wasn’t her fault, the weight of Mandy’s unfair burden is evident in the way she speaks. Her perceived sense of responsibility within her gym and her community gives a heartbreaking look into the mind of yet another girl whose “mature-for-your-age” status was used to her detriment by manipulative adults. “When people meet me, they never expect that I’m seventeen, because emotionally, I had to grow up fast as a kid,” she says. “So I always tell myself, if it had to happen to somebody in that gym, at least it was me, because I have these connections to get help. I worked in that gym, I knew Cyborg before this, I knew the gym owners. And also, I just couldn’t live with myself if it happened with another student. I couldn’t imagine it happening to another girl or even another boy.”
During a year when so much of her own life was removed from her control, Mandy has consistently sought comfort in the one thing that she could control: her jiu-jitsu. She took some time away from working at the gym, but refused to stop training no matter how heavy her thoughts became.
“I do this thing where I never, ever quit. I’ve had hard days, but there’s never been a time where I took time off,” she says. “The first few months I couldn’t train without crying after a roll. I couldn’t hold it in, and I would cry so much before or after training. And it was so hard, but I kept telling myself, if I don’t put in the work now and if I don’t make myself uncomfortable now, I’ll lose this, and I can’t lose what I love. I won’t let him take that away from me.”
Her decision to keep training isn’t just a form of stress relief, but an act of rebellion against the trauma she’s faced. “I’d get flashbacks. There were times when, mid-roll, I would just curl up and just cry, and I couldn’t tell the person why. The only people who knew why were some training partners. But it’s hard. I’ll never be the same. I can never train the same — that’s what I think people don’t understand. For me and for so many other girls who have chosen to keep training, it’s so hard. When I train, mentally I’m fighting so many things, and every day I have to prepare myself.”
Among the struggles Mandy has faced on the mats is the same one shared by an alarming number of women in jiu-jitsu: the confusing and “embarrassing” reality of being harmed from within a sport whose marketing so heavily relies on pushing “women’s self-defense.” For me, it’s still sometimes hard for me to admit that my professor did this to me,” she says, urging others to pay attention to warning signs in their respective gyms. “There were so many red flags that were ignored because people didn’t care, I guess.”
Mandy also hopes that her story can open a discussion between others in the jiu-jitsu community. “It was never talked about enough. The only time I really heard a story like this was Claudia do Val’s story. She was the only person I could think of. People can go after who they want, but man, all that matters is that the gym is more aware of everything right now and that we make sure that people who hurt me are known. Because most of the time they don’t go to jail. All that matters is to support these girls that come out. Because I’m sharing my story to only raise awareness.”
While Mandy’s own resilience is a testament to a strength that she shouldn’t need to have, she also gives credit to the people around her who support her on the mats. “I have to make sure I’m in a good mindset before I train, or else I get a lot of flashbacks and bad memories. I don’t sleep too well, you know, and I have a nightmare, and the next day if I train, my training is bad. I don’t know how I haven’t quit yet. I think it’s because of the people I have now.”
Among those people is Oliveira’s replacement, who came from Brazil as a friend of another professor at one of the associated academies. “I’ve gained an amazing professor out of everything. It’s a weird situation. I want to say I’m grateful, but I’m not grateful, because at least that guy Rodrigo is gone, and because he’s gone, I’ve gained one of the most amazing professors I’ve ever had who’s helped me a lot, too.”
Mandy has finally found the support system she needed last October, and though the legal process is long and difficult, jiu-jitsu has provided her with, yet again, a way to make her own justice. “One thing I told everybody is that, no matter where [Oliveira] goes, I want to make sure he never trains jiu-jitsu again, because I know he loves that. He was out of the country, and he was gone, and I was given permission to burn his belt that was left at the gym,” she says. “So I burned it. With a couple of friends, I burned the black belt that he earned his first-degree stripe on from Cyborg. At the time, it was like, ‘I guess all I get is to know I took away his jiu-jitsu.’ I wish every girl, every boy had that.”
As of the past week, the act wasn’t merely symbolic; following Mandy’s statement to Jassim, Abreu himself said in a public statement that he would be revoking the black belt of Oliveira, Goncalves, and Tony Harris and banning them from “all Fight Sports academies worldwide.” He also sent another message of apology to Mandy in the wake of her statement.
This past week, Mandy made the decision to send in a letter of resignation to the gym where she works to focus on both her training and her studies as she enters her senior year of high school. In the wake of the news about Abreu’s interactions with Goncalves and further allegations about his response to a separate alleged sexual assault, the academy owners have begun the process to disaffiliate from Fight Sports, according to Mandy. She herself has also said that she will no longer be competing under Fight Sports or representing them “in any way” in the future.
Though Mandy’s story is being brought to light in the midst of accusations and criticism surrounding Fights Sports as a whole, she insists that her motive in coming forward has simply been to share her story. “After hearing everything, I felt so emotional. I heard these stories, and I thought, now’s the time for me to do this. It’s been very overwhelming. But I’m grateful people have been supporting me. I’m so grateful to be given an opportunity most girls aren’t. I’m glad our community is seeing this, and I hope to be able to continue to help people. Because I have a big heart. Obviously, I have a lot of pain that I deal with every day, but anything I do is never for drama or attention. All I want is to be able to tell people this happens. And what matters is, even if they don’t have a lot of evidence, for you to be able to tell them it’s ok, to be able to comfort someone when they tell you. I know what it feels like to go to two people that you trusted and have them betray you.”
Still, even with the challenges she faces every time she steps on the mats, Mandy refuses to give up — just as she did during her match. “I tell myself I can never quit. And if I was gonna quit, it would’ve been a long time ago. If I go to compete and my knees pop or my fingers are broken or I feel sick, to me it’s no excuse, because I tell myself every day that I went out and fought the next day with the man who sexually abused me in my corner. I will compete under any circumstances. I still don’t know how. But to me, this is the one thing I can’t lose.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org. A list of trauma-informed resources can be found here.
Thank you, this needed to be written and needs to be read.