Gabi Garcia – BJJ Athlete

Gabi Garcia
Date of Birth:November 17th, 1985
Place of Birth:Porto Alegre, Brazil
Nickname: Gabi
Team:Alliance Jiu Jitsu
Location: São Paulo
Height:6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight:209 lb (95 kg; 14 st 13 lb)
Martial Arts Record(s):70-7(BJJ) 6-0 and 1 no contest(MMA)
Notable Championships:4x ADCC Champion, 7x IBJJF World Champion(6 Black Belt, 1 Brow Belt), 6x IBJJF Pans Champion

Gabi Garcia’s start in Jiu Jitsu

Gabi Garcia had always been very athletic growing up before getting into Jiu Jitsu. Playing in just about every sport played within Brazil and excelling at them.

She was first exposed to Jiu Jitsu when she was 13 years old after moving to São Paulo. Her uncle practiced and Gabi developed a slight interest at trying the martial art out.

Gabi would passively train at a local gym as a teen for a few years, but not taking it too seriously.

Gabi Garcia trains under Fabio Gurgel

Even though Garcia excelled at many team sports, she didn’t want to pursue being a professional team sport athlete. Instead, she would go to school to get a job in advertising.

At the same time she was going to school, she began training Jiu Jitsu again. This time under Alliance co-founder Fabio Gurgel.

Gurgel saw immediate potential in Gabi to become something special in the sport of Jiu Jitsu. After being encouraged by her professor, Garcia put her studies on hold to pursue a career as a professional BJJ athlete.

Her father loved Jiu Jitsu, so he and the rest of her family fully supported Gabi’s decision to train full-time.

Gabi Garcia

Gabi Garcia wins championships at colored belts

After Garcia began training full time, she immediately became the best female grappler within Brazil. From blue belt to purple belt, she dominated every competition she went to.

Gurgel saw that Gabi Garcia was miles ahead of her opponents and awarded Gabi with her brown belt in 2008.

She would prove that year that she was the best female brown belt in the world. Winning both the IBJJF Gi and No-Gi world championships.

In 2009, she would win the No-Gi Championship again along with the Brazilian Nationals. During the No-Gi Championship, Garcia sustained a severe knee injury.

Even though the pain was unbearable and her movement was limited, Gabi Garcia still competed. Managing to take the pain of her injury and win another world title at brown belt.

Her gritty performance would not only earn her a world title, but also her black belt from Fabio Gurgel.

Gabi Garcia’s early run as a black belt

At brown belt, Gabi Garcia was already considered one of the best female BJJ athletes in the world. After receiving her black belt, she was ready to prove that she was the best in the world.

Gabi would be on the mat training 2-3 times a day along with doing her strength and conditioning. Staying ready to compete at all of the major BJJ events.

Starting the year with a dominant performance at the Brazilian Nationals winning double gold. Then winning double gold again at the IBJJF Pans Championship.

Garcia would continue running through the heavyweight women’s division. Winning her 2nd UAEJJF World Pro Championship in two years.

Then she would end her phenomenal year of competition winning double gold at the IBJJF Championship. Proving that she was the best female BJJ athlete in the world.

Gabi Garcia’s first ADCC title

2011 was another year of domination for Gabi. After winning all of the major championships again, she would make her debut at the ADCC championship.

Even though it was her first ADCC, Gabi Garcia was still the favorite to win the +60 kg division. Gabi would walk through her competition at her first ADCC event.

Handily beating all three of her opponent’s to her first ADCC title.

Gabi Garcia continued to dominate

After her ADCC victory, Gabi Garcia didn’t let go of her stranglehold of women’s BJJ. 2012 would be no different than the previous two years.

Garcia would once again win double gold at the 2012 IBJJF Championship. She didn’t compete as much in 2012, but would be more active in 2013.

In 2013, Garcia would do what very few had ever done in BJJ. Male or female.

After yet again winning double gold at the Pans and World Championship, Gabi entered her 2nd ADCC tournament. Again running through her 3 matches to win her 2nd ADCC championship.

Gabi Garcia
Gabi Garcia

Gabi Garcia fails USADA drug tests

In 2014, the IBJJF had just begun implementing drug tests on their high level athletes. Who the IBJJF put in charge of their testing was USADA. Known to be one of the toughest drug screen tests in the world.

Unfortunately for Gabi Garcia, she would test positive for multiple substances. Also found to have also taken those banned substances during her 2013 championships.

The IBJJF would strip her of all of the titles she won in 2013 and 2014. Although she would not suspend her from competitions a case review by the IBJJF.

Gabi Garcia’s MMA career

After being stripped of her world titles in 2013 and 2014, Gabi Garcia only competed one time in 2015. Winning the IBJJF European Open.

During this time out of BJJ competitions, Garcia was preparing to make a transition to MMA. She was scheduled to make her MMA debut multiple times throughout 2015, but all of the fights fell through.

Then in December of 2015, she would get her debut fight against a pro wrestler named Lei’D Tapa. The bout took place at the Rizin World GP 2015  in Japan.

Tapa had no previous fighting experience and Garcia would win by TKO in the very first round. She would win her 2nd pro fight 4 months later at another Rizin event via armlock.

Her third fight would be another submission win before facing Japanese pro wrestler Yumiko Hotta A 50 year old with a 5-4 MMA record.

Gabi Garcia’s MMA bouts were heavily criticized, but this one was by far the worst. Gabi was more than double the size of Hotta and most felt that this fight should’ve never taken place.

The next two bouts Gabi would fight would both end in no contests. Poking Oksana Gagloeva in the eye and throwing illegal soccer kicks at a shoot boxing event in 2017.

Gabi would win 2 more fights in 2018 and hasn’t fought in MMA since.

Gabi Garcia wins 2 more ADCC titles

While Gabi was competing in MMA, she would find the time to compete in the 2017 ADCC Championship. She came in 3rd at the 2015 ADCC Championship and was looking to win her 3rd title.

Gabi Garcia would earn her 2nd ADCC title in 2017. Beating her three opponents and becoming the most successful female athlete in ADCC history.

In 2019, she would add yet another ADCC title to her resume. Handedly beating her 3 opponents yet again.

Gabi Garcia’s current pro grappling run

In 2020 due to the popularity of pro grappling events, Gabi Garcia would come back to competing full time. She would win all 3 of her matches in 2020, beating Kendall Reusing, Elisabeth Clay, and Claudia Doval.

Then in 2021, the BJJ world would be shocked as Garcia would actually be defeated. Losing to former BJJ world champion Nathiely Jesus at the WNO 6 events in Austin, Texas. Only the 6th loss ever in Gabi’s 10+ year grappling career.

Controversy would follow Gabi yet again at her next grappling event at the WNO Championship. There was an 8 women tournament and all of the competitors had to weigh in, except Gabi.

The other competitors were upset and felt that this was the promotion showing favoritism to Gabi. Also to no show what Gabi’s true weight was, which is estimated to be over 250lbs(113 kg)

Garcia would lose in another upset in the first round against Amanda Leve. One of the only times in Garcia’s career where she lost back to back matches.

Gabi Garcia’s legacy

Even though a fair share of controversy has followed Gabi Garcia throughout her career, she’s still one of the best ever. No other female BJJ athlete has won more world championships than Garcia.

She holds the record for most ADCC title wins and over 6 IBJJF World Titles. (Not counting the years she was stripped.)

Then she made the transition to MMA and went 6-0 in 7 fights. Critics can feel however they want about Gabi, but she put in the work to be the best female BJJ athlete of all time.