Rising stars: Cebuana siblings making waves in BJJ in UAE

By: Dale Rosal - CDN Digital | May 10,2022 - 05:35 PM
Cebuana siblings

Eliecha (left) and Ellise (right) Malilay show the medals they won in their respective BJJ tournaments in the UAE. | Contributed photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Two young Cebuana siblings are making waves in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) scene in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Eliecha and Ellise Diaz Malilay, daughters of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Dante Malilay Jr. and Marichal Diaz Malilay, are reaping success while representing the Philippines in numerous international BJJ tournaments in UAE since moving there in August 2020. 

Just recently, the 17-year-old Eliecha dominated the youth female 40-kilogram blue belt division by defeating UAE’s very own Rauda Nasser Alshamsi in the gold medal round of the prestigious Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu Pro Championships last week. 

Before that, Eliecha bagged a silver medal in the NAS Sports Tournament 2022- UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation last month. She started 2022 with a promising bronze medal finish in the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Tour Dubai International. 

“It was tough for me because of my age bracket as I can no longer compete in white belt divisions and had to fight in blue belt professional level. My first competition was in Abu Dhabi World Pro Championship last November 2021 and I lost. I was devastated but I moved on and kept on training hard. My loss was my inspiration of becoming stronger and to someday be a World Champion in my division,” Eliecha told CDN Digital.

Her younger sister Ellise, 14, is also making a name for herself in the younger category. She has already amassed six medals, comprised of two gold medals, two silvers, and two bronzes, from various tournaments in the UAE. 

“I am in my best division. I was given the opportunity to start fighting in white belt division, where I dominated the tournament. I know I would not always be a winner. However, I will always try my best to win and make sure I train as much as I can and have fun while doing so,” said Ellise.


Interestingly, the Malilay siblings have just started in this gruelling martial arts. 

They started training for BJJ in 2019 as recreation and self-defense under the tutelage of Duane Gacasan, the founder of Vagabond MMA-Deftac Cebu.

They continued training in Dubai, UAE, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and found their way to the vaunted Atrixion MMA Academy. They honed their BJJ skills under the supervision of renowned BJJ professors such as Professor Gustavo Munoz, Professor Luis Carreno, Coach Brigida Felipe, and Coach Adriano Uber Gomez.

It was there they started to join top-tier tournaments that paved the way to their early success in this sport. 

Cebuana bjj

From left, Marichal Diaz Malilay, Eliecha Diaz Malilay, Dante Malilay, and Ellise Diaz Malilay pose for a family photo during the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu Pro Championships. | CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Their father, Dante, told CDN Digital that his daughters started training BJJ in 2019 for recreation and self-defense. They started BJJ without an idea about this martial art, but their eagerness to learn was already there. 

“At first, I thought it would just be a hobby and an extracurricular activity to help them socialize with other kids their age. I also thought that this would just be one of our ways of spending quality time together as I, myself practice and train with them whenever I have the time. My wife and I did not expect it would come this big, and we are very proud of their achievements in this sport,” said Dante. 

Now, the Malilay siblings are eyeing more international tournaments. 

Proud former coach

Ellise is competing in June’s Challenge Jiu-Jitsu Festival at Al Ain UAE University. In July, she and Eliecha are both vying in the AJP Tour Fujairah International Pro in Zayed Sports Complex Fujairah, UAE.

The other BJJ tournaments the Malilay siblings are planning to compete in are the AJP International Abu Dhabi 2022, AJP Tour Asia Continental Pro UAE 2022, and the World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Abu Dhabi.

Gacasan feels proud and happy to see the Malilay siblings shine in the international BJJ scene, knowing they first learned martial arts at his gym along J. Alcantara Street in Cebu City.

“As their former coach, I feel happy and proud of these talented young ladies making their names in the international Jiu-jitsu scene. It only proves that hard work and perseverance in the art will always get you somewhere. In their cases, as champions. I wish them both well and looking forward to see more achievements  from both yca and ell. All of us from Vagabond Mma Deftac Cebu are very proud of them. I am honored to have been part of their Jiu-jitsu lives,” said Gacasan.

Currently, the girls are training hard while attending their online classes at their home in Dubai.



Cebuana bags gold in tough Jiu-jitsu meet in UAE

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TAGS: Atrixion MMA Academy, BJJ, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Cebu sports, cebu sports news, Cebuana athletes, Cebuana BJJ artists, Duane Gacasan, Eliecha Malilay, Ellise Diaz Malilay, Philippine BJJ, Vagabond MMA-Deftac Cebu

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