Off The Mat With A BJJ Black Belt: Michelle Nicolini

Michelle Nicolini is a multiple-time black belt World Champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu who recently relocated to Singapore to train with the Evolve Fight Team.

The Jiu-Jitsu Times caught up with Professor Michelle to talk about her training, transition to MMA, and life at Evolve in Singapore.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Michelle, how long have you been at Evolve MMA in Singapore? How did the move to the Evolve fight team come about for you? How is the experience of living in Singapore compared to Brazil?

Michelle Nicolini: Everything is different: new country, different culture, making new friends, no family. I knew such a big move would be hard at the beginning and I’m very positive and happy it’s going well. Everybody has been so nice to me over here and it has helped me a lot.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You are a multiple-time black belt World Champion in BJJ and ADCC with two wins in professional MMA by submission. After such a successful BJJ competition career why did you decide to change to fighting MMA?

Michelle Nicolini: I want to look back in the future and tell my kids that I had tested myself in many different martial arts. MMA is the most extreme and the most challenging test, so I had to try it and be successful in it, too.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: How has your training changed since your days of competing in IBJJF and ADCC rules? What has been your biggest challenge or learning curve in transitioning to MMA?

Michelle Nicolini: I’ve been working more on top control. Previously, when I was competing in BJJ, I use to use more of a bottom game. Now I don’t need [to] worry about IBJJF points.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Can you describe a typical training day (or week) for you in preparing for a MMA fight? (ex. nutrition, conditioning, striking, grappling etc.)

Michelle Nicolini: I get up [at] 7:15, have my protein shake every morning and black coffee. I then attend my first training session with my teammates on the Evolve Fight Team. The training session changes each day. Once finished, I have one fruit and some amino acids as a shake. I then usually teach one or two BJJ classes and then I have my lunch: salad with grilled fish. I rest for a bit and then go to the second pro fighters training session at 2pm until around 4pm. In the afternoon I eat something like white eggs and sweet potatoes. I go home to rest some more and then train some more BJJ in the evening, having a protein shake after. When I get back home I’ll have an omelette or light salad, depending where in fight camp I am. Then I’ll go to bed!

Jiu-Jitsu Times: What are your goals in MMA? What will it take to win the title on ONE?

Michelle Nicolini: My goal is to be ONE World Champion, holding the belt in my division.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You are preparing for Mona Samir on November 11, 2016 at ONE Championship in Singapore. How is your training camp going and what can the fans expect from you in this fight?

Michelle Nicolini: Training camp is going great. I’m getting prepared training with all the MMA, BJJ, and Muay Thai World Champions at Evolve MMA. The fans can expect a good fight between us. She is a wrestler from the Egyptian National team, and I will do everything to get my submission. As a wrestler she may try to put me down, let’s see. The fight will be exciting to watch for sure!

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Are there any sponsors, coaches, training partners that you wish to thank?

Michelle Nicolini: I want to thank my great sponsor Tatami fight wear, my teammates at Evolve MMA, my teammates at Checkmat and all the people who care about and support me all the time. My family and friends who push me up all the time, thanks!

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