Hillary Williams at the 2010 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
Hillary Williams, the jiu-jitsu brown belt who burst on to the international competition scene when she earned a bronze medal at the 2009 ADCC Submission Grappling Championship, celebrated another important victory on Sunday at the 2010 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Irvine, California. The pre-medical student earned the gold medal in the brown / black division among the women, an impressive feat given that it was her first year in the deeper waters where the best female grapplers in the world mix it up. It should not come as too much of a surprise however, considering that she won the gold in the purple belt division just a year ago.
To hear her tell it, Hillary’s weekend began on a sour note. In a conversation with The FightWorks Podcast yesterday, Williams described her Saturday in the tournament’s open divisions as “disappointing”, and “two lackluster performances”. In one of her matches Hillary faced a familiar opponent in Alliance’s Gabrielle Garcia. Gabi and Hillary competed against each other at the 2009 No Gi Worlds in an encounter that ended with Gabi being disqualified by the referee. On Saturday Garcia came out with a score to settle, taking down Williams, landing side mount, and sinking a deep keylock on Williams’ far side arm. The submission was to become Garcia’s signature move through out the weekend, but almost ended Hillary’s. She was later seen using her gi belt as a sling for the arm and asking if anyone had ibuprofen.
“The shoulder hurts,” Hillary said. “But it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be”. She clarified that while she was hurt on Saturday, she was not injured.
On Sunday Williams came out with something to prove. “I went back and grappled they way I know and it worked out for me.”
She first faced Jacqueline Andrade of Las Vegas-based Team Micah. While Hillary admits to feeling intimidated at first, she ended up sweeping Andrade, passing her guard, and getting a keylock from side mount. Her next opponent was CheckMat BJJ’s Luiza Monteiro, an encounter made more difficult because Monteiro and Williams are friends. While Hillary relates that it was “hard to separate” that friendship from the competitor’s need to win, she overcame. After passing Monteiro’s guard, she mounted and choked Monteiro to win the gold medal in her division.
Not one to dwell on her own accomplishments, Hillary made a point to remark how Kayron Gracie surprised and inspired those in attendance on Sunday. The son of Carlos Gracie Jr. was only recently promoted to black belt but eliminated some of the toughest middleweights in Brazilian jiu-jitsu today, including 2008 world champion Sergio Moraes. Kayron eventually fended off a relentless Abmar Barbosa to win the gold medal in his debut performance as a black belt.
“I want to be that person,” Hillary confided.
While some would argue that Williams already is an inspiration to aspiring jiu-jitsu athletes, she will have one more chance to prove it this weekend. She just arrived in the United Arab Emirates in search of big prize money at the Abu Dhabi Pro.