Melissa Bentley

Name: Melissa Bentley
BJJ Black Belt
Division: Feather 
Affiliation: Renato Tavares BJJ 
Location: Vero Beach, FL


  • 2016 IBJJF Pan Ams Champion
  • 2013 Abu Dhabi Trials
  • 2013 IBJJF Pan Am Champion 
  • 2013 IBJJF Master/Senior Worlds Champion 
  • 3x Florida State Champion 
  • 5x IBJJF Miami Open Champion, 2x Absolute Champion 
  • 2014 IBJJF Boca Raton Champion

Melissa is a purple belt under Master Renato Tavares training in Vero Beach, FL. She has been involved with sports most of her life. Then shortly after her second son was born, she decided to try BJJ at the suggestion of her husband. She instantly fell in love with the sport, and it is now a crucial part of her life that she didn’t know was missing before. She’s been training for about 4 years, and now teaches the kids classes at American Top Team for Renato Tavares’ association. This year she plans to repeat some of her big titles and also add a couple new champion titles, including NO GI divisions. She’s also striving to get her black belt and expand on her teaching skills. On top of her training and teaching schedule, her two sons also keep her pretty busy. When she’s not at the gym, she loves to read and take her family to the beach.

Q: What is your favorite BJJ position or submission?
A: I love guard (open, closed, spider etc…) I love the versatility of attacks that can be created from guard.

Q: Who are your biggest influences in BJJ?
A: My biggest influence is Master Renato Tavares. He pushes me to be the best that I can be within BJJ and in life. He has helped me realize so many things that I didn’t know about myself and that things you think can’t be done can be with hard work and determination. Another huge influence for me is my teammates. They push me every day, and their work ethic inspires me. Other influences are Michelle Nicolini, MacKenzie Dern, Tanquinho, Denilson Pimenta, and Italo Lins.

Q: What is something you do before every competition?
A: I get pep talks from my support group. I always call my husband and my brother on competition day.

Q: Do you have any interesting stories or memories from when you first started in BJJ?
A: I remember being a white belt and thinking it was so cool that the higher belts knew SO much and that one day I will be like them. And now being one of those “higher belts” I realized that I will always feel that way because this sport is ever changing and the learning never stops. Oh and I remember my very first technique that was shown to me and it was the scissor sweep.

Q: Favorite movie?
A: The Avengers

Q: If you were a superhero, what power would you want?
A: I would want to be like Thor–flying to different galaxies/planets and having a weather making hammer that only I could use would be pretty cool!

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