The women’s division is shining bright as ever with a new breed of competitors that makes exciting matches and offer highly technical jiujitsu to the table. Regarded as one of the best female featherweight/lightweight competitors today, Ffion Davies has been making waves in different tournaments from IBJJF to ADCC. Ffion Davies was able to climb the rankings of elite female competitors in a relatively short period of time.
A black belt by Darragh O’Conaill, she offers a strong top and bottom game and has faced some of the best competitors in the division including Gezary Matuda, Bea Mesquita and Talita Alencar to name a few. Apart from her crafty guard play, it is undeniable that she has an outstanding top game probably because of her judo background. Ffion Davies played for the Wales Judo National team when she was a junior.
Born in Swansea, Wales on January 18, 1995, she loved doing sports at a young age. She played both rugby and judo as a child. Ffion Davies started playing judo at the age of 8 and was heavily influenced by both parents who practiced judo. She competed extensively and shared some success during her junior years winning both the Welsh and British Open for the junior division. Apart from her accomplishment, she was also able to join the Wales National Judo Team.
Despite finding success in judo, she struggled to find solid friends on the team. In addition to this, she suffered from self-confidence issues which grew her disappointment with judo. Ffion Davies then decided to take a break from competing. She decided to return to judo at 17 years old only to step away once again.
By 2013, Ffion Davies discovered mixed martial arts. By November that year, she joined an MMA gym inspired mainly by Ronda Rousey who came from a judo background. She then focused on Nogi to distance herself from things that remind her of judo. However, given the reality that the best jiujitsu athletes trained in the gi, she then decided to go back to the gi, this time doing jiujitsu instead of judo.
She mentioned that “MMA is exciting and there’s money there but I think it shows how much I love Jiu-Jitsu that I want to do that. I don’t mind being poor because I absolutely adore it”.
Her first instructor was Swansea BJJ pioneer Chris Rees. He gave Ffion Davies her blue belt. However, though she was still linked to Rees’s affiliation even during her purple belt years, Ffion will find her way to Darragh O’Conaill’s East Coast BJJ Academy. The main branch of Darragh O’Conaill is in Ireland. Ffion would go on to found CF24 with her then partner.
To be able to afford training in Cardiff, she became a bouncer. However, she would complain about the fact that the hours required her to stay awake during night time.
Training with Darragh O’Conaill
After she split with her boyfriend who was also the co-owner of CF24, she decided to go to Ireland and train with Darragh O’Conaill. She then decided to prolong her stay in Dublin after finding the trip as a good experience. She later received her black belt in November 2018. After getting her black belt, she’d later win the NoGi World Championship that same year.
Under O’Conaill, Ffion Davies won a good number of titles both as a lower belt and as a black belt. Despite only doing jiujitsu in 2013, she already won a world championship at brown and (nogi) black belt. And also, she’s known in different competition circuits not only in IBJJF but also in ADCC, UAEJJF, and Polaris.
After missing the gold for the IBJJF World Championship as a purple belt in consecutive years from 2016 to 2017, Ffion Davies won the Adult Featherweight title during the 2018 IBJJF World Championship as a brown belt.
In 2019, Ffion Davies made her black belt gi competition debut. It was also this year when she placed in major tournaments as a black belt. She won gold during the 2019 IBJJF European Championship. The following year, not only did she win the division for the 2020 IBJJF European Championship, but she also won the absolute division. During her 2019 IBJJF World Championship Campaign, she made her way to bronze as a new black belt competitor.
However, Ffion Davies also shined without the gi. As a purple belt, she already won the 2016 World No Gi Championship and as a black belt in 2018. In 2019, she landed in 2nd place during the ADCC World Championship.
After winning both European and World Titles, Ffion Davies was invited in Polaris to face Gezary Matuda, a competitor who won the Worlds and Pan Ams.
Ffion Davies started playing top while defending and giving her own share of leg attacks. During the last sequence, Ffion Davies took Matuda down and was able to land a kesagatame, worked towards mount and finished an arm triangle winning the 55kg title in the process. This was considered an upset by many considering how Matuda won major titles multiple times.
Vegetarianism and Competition Preparation
Ffion Davies in an interview mentioned that she’s a vegetarian. She mentioned that it was also for environmental reasons why she decided to become a vegetarian. Though she plans to transition towards becoming a vegan, Ffion Davies mentioned the difficulty of relearning your entire diet.
Weeks before the tournaments, she will usually cut the carbs to minimize water retention and keep the weight. She also mentioned drinking more water to shed off extra weight.
Ffion also mentioned that she had a hormonal bar since she was 16, unaware of what the effects could bring her performance. She later had it removed and experienced an improvement in her energy level and she also had an easier time becoming leaner. She also mentioned that she finds it easier to compete if she’s excited and happy.
Ffion Davies is considered by many as the best European jiu-jitsu competitor today. Performing well when the stakes are high, she’s shown great improvement in her game over the years.