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Nicole Leite: keeping it in the family

Nicole Leite, the 21-year-old, purple belt wife of Gi and No-Gi Worlds champion Lucas Leite, left a mark of her own at the Las Vegas Open last weekend, winning double gold and proving that both members of the family have what it takes to clean up with gold medals.

Nicole Leite in victory / Photo: Tanya Wilson

Nicole, who trains under Rodrigo Teixeira but competes under Checkmat, has been training for almost five years and has been a purple belt for a little over two years. At the Las Vegas Open the middleweight had four matches in all: one in her weight class and three in the absolute, and she won all of them.

Nicole fought Jill Baker of Jean Jacques Machado twice, once in their division (in the final) and once in the absolute. Her favorite Jiu-Jitsu moves are sweeps from half-guard or spider-guard and she was able to work them against Jill in the final. “Facing her in the absolute was definitely more difficult,” Nicole says, “She has an amazing guard and was able to pull and sweep me. I was losing for most of the match, and then a sweep opened up for me. I ended up sweeping her and passing her guard. I couldn’t believe it!”

In the open class final, Nicole faced off against Ronda Andrews of Gracie Humaita, and that was another difficult match for her. “Ronda was very strong and had me worried about passing the entire time,” Nicole says, “I was eventually able to set up a triangle and finish, but my grips were close to giving out. It was tough.”

Nicole, who tries to compete as much as she can, has competed in the absolute before, but says she didn’t really do too well in them. “I’ve always either come in second or third, which makes these wins at the Las Vegas Open that much more satisfying to me,” she says, “It’s my first big win at a federation tournament at purple belt.”

As for her experience at the Las Vegas Open, Nicole says she absolutely loved it. “I’m definitely coming back for more next year.”

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