‘I Wouldn’t Stop Until I Got What I Wanted’ – How Bianca Basilio Escaped Poverty And Became A BJJ Megastar

Bianca Basilio is declared winner against Milena Sakumoto at ONE 163

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sensation Bianca Basilio has fought hard to escape the difficulties that marked her childhood.

On May 3 in U.S. primetime, the 28-year-old will return for her third appearance under ONE’s bright lights as she battles Japanese standout Nanami Ichikawa in an intriguing 132-pound catchweight submission grappling tilt at ONE Fight Night 22: Sundell vs. Diachkova on Prime Video.

For Basilio, this matchup at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok is another chance to showcase her immense talent on the global stage.

Competing in the world’s largest martial arts organization – with millions watching and big purses and performance bonuses on the line – represents a marked departure from her hard-scrabble upbringing in Brazil.

She spoke to onefc.com about growing up with so little – and how it has motivated her to succeed:

“When you are poor, you value many things, as you do not have access to new things. I believe this made me more focused and determined to achieve my goals and what I would like to achieve.

“I focused, and I knew I wouldn’t stop until I got what I wanted. And it was with this mentality that I built my career.”

Driven to reach a new station in life, Basilio has now established herself as one of the world’s best overall grapplers, boasting multiple IBJJF Black Belt World Titles, as well as an ADCC World Title.

Despite that incredible success, she hasn’t lost sight of her humble beginnings.

The Sao Paulo native says that, through it all, she’s maintained a sense of integrity, respect for others, and dogged determination that came from her mother and father:

“My parents taught me to do my best without going over other people. They always said that the world is big and everyone has a space.

“I learned to be true to myself and to people, to pursue things without fear, and to not be ashamed when doors open for you, which means not being afraid to ask for help and keep searching until you achieve it.”

Basilio pursued her dreams of international BJJ success from a young age, forcing her to grow up quickly.

Money didn’t come easy at the beginning, and she learned how to scrape by while maintaining a strict training regimen. Still, she’s quick to credit those around her for their support and faith in her journey:

“I left home on my own, but the achievement is not just mine. It belongs to those who are part of my life, too.

“I learned to manage my first salary of 200 reais (US$40 in today’s exchange rate) at the age of 14, and with this amount, I was already helping friends who were by my side and who had nothing.”

Basilio has certainly come a long way.

In November 2022, she made her ONE debut, submitting Milena Sakumoto in spectacular and dominant fashion to earn a US$50,000 performance bonus.

She says it’s her undying belief in herself and hard work that’s led her out of poverty and into a situation that many would have considered far-fetched:

“I always had something very strong that told me that I would make it somehow, and at some point, that I just needed to dedicate myself and do my best without stepping over anyone.

“I dedicated myself a lot and studied a lot to learn many things, and thank God, today I am living the life of my dreams, and I continue fighting to change my life.”

Bianca Basilio Still Has More Big Dreams

Now a ONE superstar, Bianca Basilio isn’t done yet.

While she lives a comfortable life and is able to travel the world doing what she loves, she still has a couple more lifetime goals on her to-do list:

“One of my biggest dreams today is to be able to give my parents their own home. I also want to help my brothers grow in life and help transform children and teenagers through martial arts, just like it happened to me.”

It’s the same dedication and faith that pulled her out of poverty, Basilio says, that will continue to drive her to new heights.

Never one to settle for mediocrity, she knows her future remains bright:

“I’m working to achieve other things through fighting. I was born for this, and I will achieve it. I trust in what I can do, and with God’s blessing, nothing is impossible.

“I’ve only been practicing jiu-jitsu for 16 years, and I’ve been able to do the best with my career so far, but I know that the best is yet to come. I am very grateful for everything I had and have today. God has always been with me, and I know that he never forgets me.”

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