Ottavia Bourdain Goes to the Mat

By Karen

If you follow @OttaviaBourdain on Twitter, you know she eats, breathes, and sleeps mixed martial arts. On Saturday, March 24, Cats Working reader MorganLF had the opportunity to watch Ottavia participate in her first competition at GrapplersQuest in Wayne, NJ. I’m not into that scene, but Morgan thinks Cats Working should keep the Bourdain archive fairly complete, so (with her permission) here is Morgan’s full report and pics…

Man what a scene! Grappling is very visceral. I got there five minutes before Ottavia’s fight at the local Police Athletic League facility. Picture a big gym with large mats on the floor. Each mat is a “ring,” separated by ladies/men weight class etc.

Ottavia was in the corner, ring 2. Tony was standing ringside with everyone else. The Big Gay Ice Cream dudes were there, too. I grabbed a space near the edge of the mat, right behind her coach and some officials, and a few feet from Tony.

When Ottavia came on to the mat, she saw me and waved, then went into full-on fight mode. During the match I stood on the bleachers to get a better view and caught Tony’s eye. We exchanged smiles and waves. We’ve met so many times now, I know he recognizes my bright red head!

Grappling isn’t like wrestling. It’s more aggressive. In this video, she’s winning her first bout, which I sort of missed because I was screwing with my phone’s camera.

Tony looked on, proud and generally just chilling. I went over to him and asked if she won the bout. He said yes. One of the Big Gay dudes said, when the official pulls your hand over your head, it generally means you’re the victor. That’s the part I missed.

I told Tony it was the first time I’d seen this sport and commented on how rough it was. He agreed and said, “Another one is coming up.”

I asked, “You mean your daughter?” and Tony said, “No, she fights again, until she’s eliminated.”

Tony watches the fight (Photo - MorganLF)

At that point, Ottavia was on the sidelines in deep concentration with her coaches.

Her next opponent was not playing. Ottavia put on the fiercest game face; you would never recognize her. It’s wild, not like wrestling where you go for the pin. This is a point system. They jump on each other, wrapping their legs around the other or using any device to get the “take-down,” which puts them on the mat and wins points. Then it’s all this painful-looking twisting and crab-walking.

Ottavia (left) faces off with her opponent, who won this one. (Photo - MorganLF)

Ottavia “tapped out,” meaning she tapped the mat to indicate she was done, and that eliminated her. I went over and congratulated her and then left the Bourdains to the photographers who were swarming around them.

Ottavia wears her silver as she and Tony celebrate with her trainers. (Photo - @NoReservations)

PS: A few times, Ottavia’s shirt got pulled up to reveal a serious 6-pack. She’s in amazing shape. Once again, what struck me is how unpretentious the Bourdains are, in spite of his celebrity. There were no handlers; in fact, Tony was wearing a paper wristband for access into the building just like the rest of us.

Well folks, there you have it. Her first time out, Ottavia won a silver medal. Cats Working congratulates her and predicts she’ll bring home the gold next time!


Some classic video of Ottavia grappling with a guy at the Big Gay Ice Cream shop a few months ago.


8 Responses to Ottavia Bourdain Goes to the Mat

  1. Zappa's mom says:

    uuuuuhhhhh……I don’t know…..


  2. catsworking says:

    ZM, I’m with you on this. Yes, she looks to be in amazing shape, but the method of achieving it…?

  3. MorganLF says:

    An interesting dichotomy though…

  4. Anna Burdette says:

    hey “woman-who-won” My name is Anna Burdette. Thanks! : )

  5. Anna Burdette says:

    Sorry I forgot to add that Ottavia did a great job! And from what I hear trains all the time! I wish her luck in Brazil!

  6. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Anna! I’m honored that you stopped by. I hope Ottavia sees your shout-out. She used to read Cats Working regularly, but I’m not sure she still does because I don’t write about the Bourdains too often anymore.

    From what she tweets, she DOES train all time time. Like every day. So if you didn’t win, it wasn’t because you weren’t trying. She’s TOUGH.

  7. Anna Burdette says:

    I actually was the girl that beat her. But like you said she’s tough! Great fighter, and I’m sure we will meet again. Especially if she keeps going to grapplersquest! And thanks Cats for coming out and supporting her and women’s grappling! I really hope this brings more women into an already amazing sport!

  8. catsworking says:

    Oops! Sorry, Anna! Congratulations on your win! I’m sure you just made Ottavia more determined than ever to beat the NEXT woman she grapples with. According to her tweets, she’s been training like crazy.

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