Photo courtesy Sophia McDermott
Australia has reached a milestone in its development of top Brazilian jiu-jitsu talent this month, as Sophia McDermott became the first Australian woman to receive her black belt. McDermott’s road to become an elite BJJ practitioner began in 2002 in Melbourne at Dominance MMA, a Machado affiliate. Today McDermott trains in Las Vegas, where she was awarded her black belt by Robert Drysdale.
In competition McDermott has some noteworthy accomplishments in both gi and no-gi, winning her weight division at the 2009 no-gi worlds as a brown belt, and medaling twice at the Pan-Ams as a brown belt among competitors like Alliance’s Luanna Alzuguir and Gracie Elite’s Kyra Gracie.
Like Penny Thomas who was the first female black belt from the continent of Africa, McDermott’s early athletic years were spent as a gymnast. McDermott’s identical twin trained in gymnastics alongside her but now “we’re so alike but we’ve gone opposite [career] directions,” says Sophia.
Today Sophia dedicates her time to helping run the Drysdale academy in Las Vegas and is looking forward to the Las Vegas International Open IBJJF Championship on August 14th. Big congratulations to her for being a trailblazer for women in Australia and abroad who also aspire to such an important accomplishment.
McDermott and Robert Drysdale. Photo courtesy Sophia McDermott