‘I’m About That Life’ – Meet Amanda ‘Tubby’ Alequin, One Of BJJ’s Most Entertaining Competitors
Elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Amanda “Tubby” Alequin has been a fighter since birth.
On July 14 at ONE Fight Night 12 on Prime Video, the 28-year-old will bring her exciting, aggressive style to ONE Championship when she squares off with Tammi Musumeci in a pivotal strawweight submission grappling contest.
That matchup goes down live in U.S. primetime from the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, and for “Tubby,” it represents the culmination of 14 years dedicated to perfecting her world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game.
Here is the Ecuadorian-American’s journey to the world’s largest martial arts organization.
‘A Lot Of Memories Of Fighting Growing Up’
The daughter of Ecuadorian parents, Alequin grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she and her two older sisters and younger brother worked in the family’s liquor store attached to their home.
She has fond memories of her childhood, learning the value of hard work at an early age:
“The moment I could walk – or crawl – I was working. We all had really good work ethic, high drives. We’re workhorses.”
Beyond doing her part in the family business, “Tubby” recalls an upbringing that was marked by plenty of fights, wrestling matches, and fierce physical competitions between her and her siblings.
The kids were all cramped together in their small New York City apartment – and they needed an outlet for their energy.
“We were in a rough neighborhood, and we shared one room with bunk beds, so a lot of fights broke out between us.”
So, long before she learned the nuances of BJJ, Alequin learned simply how to fight.
Her father tended to deal with conflict among the kids in an old-fashioned, straightforward way: put on the boxing gloves and have them go toe-to-toe until the dispute was settled.
And even when she wasn’t battling her siblings, Alequin learned the art of striking from her dad, who often held impromptu boxing lessons in the middle of the family’s liquor store:
“Boxing was one of the first things I ever did, and it’s not like I went to an academy or a gym. It was literally right in the middle of the store, where you had customers coming in and just watching us duke it out.
“And my dad would sit there and be like, ‘Alright just give me whatever you got,’ and he would block punches and stuff, and it would be like the four of us on him, tag-teaming him. So a lot of memories of fighting growing up. A lot.”
Hooked On BJJ
When she was a teenager, “Tubby’s” family relocated to Florida, where they opened another business. Directly behind that business was a brand-new martial arts and fitness gym.
Alequin’s brother was the first to dip his toes into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and after coming home and submitting his older sister with a kimura after just one class, she felt compelled to try it herself.
The next day – at her first no-gi BJJ class, in her first-ever roll – the young Ecuadorian-American’s innate, scrappy nature came out, as her mortified father watched her fight like what she described as a “wild pig.”
Just like that, “Tubby” had found her calling:
“From just having the history of wrestling my brothers and sisters, I was just throwing myself everywhere, and I ended up getting thrown into the drywall, and it dented the drywall. And my dad was there too, so he was like, ‘Oh my god, Oh my god, I’m so sorry!’ So he was freaking out. And I was like, ‘Let’s keep going!’ I’m fine.
“So that was my first class. And then after that, I was hooked.”
Just three months later, Alequin – having shown an incredible natural aptitude for grappling – entered her first BJJ tournament.
But at 15 years old, she was competing in the teen division against males. Standing barely 5 feet tall and weighing 165 pounds (a plump frame that earned her the nickname “Tubby”), she found herself matched against a 170-pound boy for her first contest.
Despite narrowly losing on points, Alequin acquitted herself well and was encouraged to keep pursuing the sport:
“It was crazy. I lost by two points to the boy, but because I was so flexible and limber, I was able to impose some transitions. I was able to get out of some positions and stuff by using my flexibility.
“And I remember after the match, like even watching it back – sometimes I like looking back on it because I was so wild – I could see like my cardio was good. And I remember shaking my head like, “I like this. I like this.”
Steady Support From Her Husband
“Tubby” didn’t just like competition – she thrived in it.
Three years after starting jiu-jitsu, she won gold at the IBJJF Pan American Championships as a blue belt. She continued winning major tournaments throughout the colored belts, firmly establishing herself as one of the planet’s most talented up-and-comers.
In 2016, the young grappling sensation was promoted to black belt and promptly won gold at the IBJJF No-Gi World Championships, etching her name in the history books and further solidifying her status as the best of the best.
Since then, she’s remained among the elite and earned her reputation as one of BJJ’s most thrilling submission hunters.
Throughout nearly all of her competitive career, her husband – professional MMA fighter and BJJ black belt Eric Alequin – has been right by “Tubby’s” side, always there to keep her accountable or offer the perfect words of encouragement when she’s needed them the most.
She said of Eric:
“He’s one to have always kept me in check. There’s been times where you win and you get too full of yourself. Like, nah, homeboy was quick to put me back down on two feet on the ground and be like, ‘The work doesn’t stop here. You’ll stop when you’re dead.’
“So he’s always kept me motivated, kept me on my toes, always pushed me in there. There are times where I don’t believe in myself, and it’s like he’s always there telling me, ‘You’re great. You know, you’re bound for greatness. You’re amazing.’”
‘I’m Always Looking For The Finish’
Already a BJJ World Champion, Alequin is now on the precipice of a new kind of greatness in ONE Championship.
And while she’s accomplished plenty over the course of her lengthy career to earn her spot in the organization, she likely attracted the attention of ONE officials with her ultra-aggressive, risk-taking style of grappling.
“Tubby” described her approach to jiu-jitsu as such:
“I feel like I’m a very exciting grappler, and I’m always looking for the finish. So anyone that’s seen any of my previous matches, you’ll never catch me running. I’ll always go into the person headstrong and willing to throw everything I got at them and expect that in return because I’m not gonna back down. That’s one thing about me.”
Indeed, the tenacity she learned at a young age – whether wrestling with her siblings in their New York apartment or duking it out with her father in the family business – shines through in her relentless, never-say-die style.
And much to her delight, Alequin expects to see the same kind of attitude from opponent Tammi Musumeci in their matchup on July 14.
“One thing I love about her is that she always shows up. She’s not going there to score points. She’s going there to finish, and I’m about that life.
“So anyone you put in front of me, that’s about it. I’m about it, and it’s bound to be a good match.”