By Dylan Knostman
This article is a part of a series called Fighters to Know. Check out the first installment by clicking here.
Jaqueline Amorim is going to be a Mixed Martial Arts star. The former LFA strawweight champion and multiple time International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) world champion is set to make her UFC debut at UFC 287 on April 8th vs Sam Hughes, and if there was ever a debut to tune in for this would be the one.
Jaqueline Amorim is a 27 year old mixed martial artist and Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner hailing from Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil and she currently boasts an undefeated 6-0 record, all by finish. A life long martial artist like her father, she was enrolled in jiu jitsu classes as early as the age of 6, and before long was invited to be a member of the ASLE academy, training under the likes of former UFC star Jacare Souza and legendary coach Henrique Machado. Through this grappling and combat education Amorim quickly developed into one of the top female grapplers in the country of Brazil, and outside of jiu jitsu competed in Judo and qualified for the national freestyle wrestling team. She was the IBJJF gi and no gi champion at 19 years old in 2014 as a purple belt, and the gi champion the year before as a purple belt as well. After receiving her black belt from Fastino Neto (Pina), she and her husband moved to the United States to pursue better opportunities for their combat sports careers, where she now trains at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.
Amorim made her professional MMA debut on September 4th, 2020 at Mr. Cage 42 with no amateur fights prior. She defeated Luana Nogeuria by round one armbar, which was the first of her now six consecutive finishes inside of the MMA cage. Due to her extensive jiu jitsu experience and pedigree, five of her wins have come via submission, but she enjoys getting creative as she has two wins by arm bar, one by kneebar, one by rear naked choke, and one by arm triangle. She is truly dangerous from any position and there are very few fighters as adept at finding the submission like she does in the UFC women’s flyweight division, let alone the world. Not only known for her ground game, she has shown ridiculous power in her hands thus far, and the defense to boot. She has one knockout win in under 30 seconds, and in her last fight which was also her second title defense for LFA, Amorim defensively forced her opponent to go 0-15 striking before “Jacque” submitted her via armbar. She is scheduled to face Sam Hughes (7-5 MMA, 2-4 UFC) at UFC 287 in Miami. Sam Hughes has had a mixed run with the promotion, with her most impressive win being her TKO win by ground and pound elbows vs Elise Reed. The UFC is most likely looking for Amorim to produce a highlight and build her own hype train, because despite being “the promotion”, the UFC does not promote their fighters well.
From a technical and mechanical perspective there is a lot to love, both on the feet and on the ground from Jaqueline Amorim. Going back to her jiu jitsu days, she is a tremendous guard player off of her back, and, according to BJJ Heroes, her favorite guard to play is lasso, in which you grab your opponents sleeve and loop your leg over their bicep and under their arm, effectively isolating the arm and providing strong control, posture and position. In gi competitions, she would play lasso consistently off of her back, throwing up triangles and armbars, seamlessly working off of each other, forcing the opponent to make a decision, in which they generally made the wrong one. This lasso guard technique doesn’t translate directly to MMA as there is no gi sleeve to grip, but what does translate is her tremendous ability to lock in both armbars and triangles from guard and other positions. Perhaps her most impressive submission was by kneebar vs Loveth Young, in which she was knocked down and snatched up Young’s leg while on her back, and fought through the daze to break her opponent's leg before Loveth Young could tap. While her jiu jitsu game is absolutely elite, her wrestling is far above average as well. She utilizes basic double and single legs, but there’s nothing basic about her timing and ability to get to the hips. She’s shown she has power in her hands which makes her opponents very wary of her striking, therefore opening themselves up to be taken down. Once she’s on top, her guard passing is top notch and she’ll knee cut straight to full mount where she then utilizes ground and pound to, quite often, perfectly set up submissions. Showing off an incredibly complete game for a fighter with only six wins, the only things that noticeably need improvement is a more diverse striking attack on the feet utilizing kicks more often, and the one question remains about what Amorim is like past the first round, as none of her fights have lasted five minutes. Training at American Top Team is the place to fix those kinks, and expect to see a much improved Amorim even since her last title defense for LFA.
Jaqueline Amorim’s ceiling in MMA is currently sky high. Already signed with the largest promotion in the world, she has an opportunity to make a title chase before her 30th birthday, as she’s only 27 prior to her debut. The strawweight division is not the deepest women’s division in the UFC, with likely her first significant test coming when she cracks the top 10 of the division. The current champ Zhang Weili is looking fearsome at the top, but at 32 and with significant mileage we could see a decline before Amorim has a chance to challenge her for the belt. A truly elite prospect, all eyes should be on this prelim bout at UFC 287 as we may see an electric finish as a star is born in the strawweight division.
High level comparison: Mackenzie Dern, but a significantly higher ceiling in terms of potential