‘YOLO, dude’ – How Tubby Alequin stays motivated after 13 years in BJJ

Grappling Insider spoke to no-gi world champion Tubby Alequin about what has kept her motivated over the course of her career.

Still just 28 years old, Amanda “Tubby” Alequin has been a long-established figure on the elite competitive scene.

A two-time ADCC veteran, she was awarded her black belt in 2016, promptly winning an IBJJF no-gi black belt world title that year. And since then, Alequin has remained at the top of the sport, both gi and no-gi, competing frequently in superfights under the Fight 2 Win and Who’s Number One (WNO) banners, as well as regularly appearing in IBJJF tournaments. 

On July 14, Alequin will make her ONE Championship debut when she squares off with Tammi Musumeci at ONE Fight Night 12.

Fresh off an entertaining victory over Alex Enriquez at WNO, Alequin spoke to Grappling Insider about a variety of topics, including what has kept her motivated over the course of her career.

Alequin is proud of her recent win over Enriquez. Although she couldn’t find the submission in that match, she pushed the pace for 15 minutes, leading to an exciting, scramble-filled affair.

She said:

“Win or lose I always wanna go out in fashion. So whether it’s out on my shield, whether I’m winning, whether I’m winning, I always wanna make sure I’m going out with a bang.”

With 13 total years in the sport and nearly a decade of competing at the world-class level, Alequin’s motivation to jiu-jitsu remains stronger than ever:

“What’s kept me motivated, honestly, the community… The people who I’ve met through jiu-jitsu. The little team that I’ve been building over the past 10 years, that’s what’s kept me going…

“I’m not in it for the wins, the losses, the money. I’m in it for the journey and the experience. I don’t mean to sound cliche, but YOLO dude, you only live once. I get to do this for a living. I get to do it. I don’t have to do it, I get to. I’m so grateful for the life that I get to live.”

Alequin has also been buoyed by the constant support of her husband Eric Alequin, who is also a BJJ black belt and an accomplished professional MMA fighter in his own right.

Her husband, she says, brings a unique and important perspective to the relationship: 

“The benefits are also the cons, man. He still wants to keep me in check. A lot of people blow smoke up your a** and he’s someone that will bring me down to reality real quick. He’ll keep me in check… It’s good to have someone that’ll keep me in check. He’s always honest, brutally honest.”

Alequin hasn’t lost any bit of her passion for jiu-jitsu. According to her, it’s the constant evolution of the sport that’s kept her interested:

“That’s one of the things that keeps me going, it’s learning. It’s always evolving… Jiu-jitsu, it’s like, 13 years in and the game is still evolving. The game is just getting better and better, more tactical, more systematic.”

Alequin’s first ADCC appearance came in 2015. Naturally, she’s seen the sport change in major ways since then:

“It’s moving on up to becoming a little bit more professional… I tell people, man, the first time I ever got paid for my first jiu-jitsu match was in 2016. I got paid 100 bucks to show, 100 bucks to win, that was my first check as a black belt… It’s changed a lot in the sense of it’s a lot more professional.”

She also recognizes that jiu-jitsu has changed in terms of female representation and involvement. Still, she’d like to see more women’s jiu-jitsu promoted at a higher level:

“I get that the numbers aren’t always there but the numbers have changed over the years. I feel like just having more female matches, more female cards, just promoting more women’s jiu-jitsu, because let’s be honest, women’s jiu-jitsu is fun… It just gets a little crazy, riskier, more action… Having more of that in cards and shows, that’s something I want to see.”

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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