01 Jan For MMA’s love triangle, it’s all about the journey
Ricardo Sattelmayer and Aline Sattelmayer got married and started their MMA careers in a small town just outside Sao Paulo, Brazil. But he felt something was missing.
The answer, as it turned out, was a form of domestic partnership that’s not only frowned upon, but illegal in most modern societies.
Ricardo and Aline traveled the world for the love of the sport and found that missing passion back home in an unusual form: polygamy.
Ricardo listen to one of his wives before fighting.
Eduardo Rocha/Batalha MMA
Ricardo and Aline tied the knot more than a decade ago and opened Sattelmayer Top Team in Sao Jose dos Campos. Three years into their relationship, Ricardo decided to make a bold suggestion: He wanted a second wife.
“I’ve talked with Aline for years about it, that I wanted another wife, but not commit adultery,” Ricardo says. “I’ve never done that in my life. Many men want an adventure, many men have that fetish of laying down with two or three women, but I didn’t want that. I wanted a family.”
Ricardo always had a smile on his face whenever he threw that idea out, so his wife never took it very seriously. He kept bringing that back, though, until Aline’s answer eventually changed.
“He was always joking about it, saying he wanted a second wife, but I never encouraged it,” Aline says. “I was always like, ‘Ah, let him talk.’ And then one day he talked about it again, and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll let you have it then.’
“I gave him my word that if we ever found the right person, I would let him have it,” she said.
Finding a second wife wouldn’t be easy, because Ricardo and Aline had a one-year daughter, Barbara, at the time, so it had to be someone special.
That’s when Bianca Reis entered the story.
The 19-year-old woman signed up to train martial arts at Sattelmayer Top Team and quickly became friends with the owners. A few months later, Ricardo saw in Bianca the perfect second wife for their relationship. They were friends, and he thought it would work because “she’s also a fighter who earned her living like us (and) had the same goals.”
“We became friends,” Aline said. “And one day, he said, ‘I think I found the right person,’ and I said, ‘I think I agree.’”
Ricardo and Aline had discussed the idea for years, but approaching a friend and student with such offer would definitely sound weird. When he approached Reis, her first reaction was to look at Aline.
“Really?” she asked.
Aline quickly replied, “Yes, for real. You can give your answer.”
“At first I didn’t take it very seriously,” Reis said with a laugh. “I’ve heard him talk to Aline before about wanting a second wife, so it was more natural since I had that close relationship with them. But when he first mentioned it, it was a scare, a surprise. … He really wanted to have a family, so we gave him that opportunity.”
“I joked at Bianca, ‘You could be my wife too,’ and she kinda didn’t take it too seriously,” Ricardo Sattelmayer said. “Since we were friends and used to hang out a lot together, we kept talking and eventually hooked up. I told her we would date, get to know each other, and then I would ask her father for her hand in marriage. That’s how Bianca came into our lives: a mix of work and romance.”
A bed for three
Imagining a hypothetical scenario where you have two wives is one thing. But dealing with the changes in your daily routine is a completely different game. First, after a few months together as “boyfriend and girlfriend,” Ricardo decided it would be for the best if he asked Reis’ father for permission before making their triad official.
“They freaked out,” Reis said. “His first words were, ‘I don’t get it, Ricardo.’ They got scared.”
Also in disbelief, Reis’ mother tried to understand why he wanted to marry her daughter while being married to her coach.
“I am (married),” he replied. “But I wanna marry your daughter, too.”
Bianca listens to her husband Ricardo in between rounds.
Eduardo Rocha/Batalha MMA
Reis’ parents decided to invite Ricardo for dinner over the weekend so they could sit down and understand what was going on. When Ricardo explained he wanted to have a family “under his concepts of respect, love and partnership,” they gave their blessing.
“I thought they wouldn’t like it, because they are married for years and live under that standard imposed by the society, let’s put it this way,” said Bianca Sattelmayer, her new name after joining the family. “I was always very open with my mom about what I wanted to do, so I was able to explain to her that I was happy with them.
“She wanted to put a stop to it at first, because it’s something they were not used to. But when I expected that we would be a family and they saw there was love involved, they took it seriously and accepted it.”
Barbara, who was four at the time, was already used to seeing Bianca in the gym, so it was “easier” to explain the situation, she said. Barbara referred to Bianca as “aunt,” an affectionate term used by Brazilian kids when talking to older women that may or may not be a family member.
“She was very young, but Ricardo was able to explain to her that ‘aunt’ Bianca would be there every day and she got used to having me there,” Bianca said. “Sometimes she jokes to her friends at school about having two mothers, but she knows Aline is her mother and I’m her ‘aunt.’ She understands it.”
“People know us at school and in the streets, and there’s no bullying or anything like that at school,” Ricardo added. “She’s okay with it. She was very young at the time, so we sat down with her and explained, ‘Daddy is gonna have another wife.’ It was a bit confusing for her in the beginning, but she lives well with it.”
Aline wasn’t the only wife from that point on, and she had to cope well. With an 8-foot custom-made bed, and another woman beside her husband every night, she had to redefine the meaning of jealousy.
“Since we trained together in the gym and I helped her while Ricardo stayed at home with our daughter, it wasn’t that hard,” Aline said. “I was a bit jealous at first, but it was nothing. I stopped and thought about it. If I let that happen, it made no sense to be jealous about it. And it worked out.”
“I was and still am a jealous person,” Bianca said with a laugh. “But since I came in later, it wouldn’t make any sense to be jealous of Aline. If I agreed to enter a relationship that already existed, I had to be mature enough to understand it. It was alright. I thought a lot about that and other things and came to a conclusion that it would be cool and it would work.”
Ricardo celebrates a win with his wives Aline and Bianca.
Eduardo Rocha/Batalha MMA
The Sattelmayers became popular in their hometown after their polygamous relationship made the local news. They often hear other women say they would never allow such thing in their houses. Ricardo insists he’s not carrying a flag, or campaigning for everyone to adopt their lifestyle. But he asks for respect.
“No one’s telling you to do it,” Ricardo said. “We’re doing it because that’s what we want. I always make it clear for everyone that this is our ideology, and I’m not advising anyone to follow it.
“If people started doing like (us), there would be no more cheating. That’s the truth. There are a lot of husbands who have their wives and mistresses, you know? I think it would end adultery. But I haven’t chosen this to avoid adultery. I’ve chosen this because it’s a lifestyle.”
The Sattelmayer polygamy starts and ends with three. Ricardo defends that “having two wives is easier than one,” but said he has no intention trying to convince Aline and Bianca to add another wife. He wouldn’t agree with another man joining the “team” either.
“They are free – I don’t own them and they don’t own me,” he said. “If they say, ‘I want another husband’… our marriage was our deal. We agreed it would only be the three of us. They don’t have that desire.
“It’s not sexism. If we came to an agreement, OK, but there’s no room for another wife or another husband. But if they decide to love someone else, they are free to live their lives.”
‘No more losses’
Looking at their professional MMA records, the Sattelmayers are mediocre athletes. They jump on every opportunity to compete and make money, taking short-notice fights that aren’t smart moves. Ricardo is 15-21 as a pro; his strawweight wives Aline and Bianca also hold sub-.500 records at 12-14 and 7-11, respectively.
A quick look at their resumes show that Aline and Bianca have plenty of defeats, but many of their losses came against future UFC and Invicta FC fighters, including future 115-pound champion Zhang Weili.
Aline, 29 years of age, has shared the cage with Amanda Ribas, Virna Jandiroba, Herica Tiburcio, Livia Renata Souza and Kalindra Faria. She lost to all of them, but was the only one to beat Polyana Viana in her pre-UFC days.
Bianca, 24, who also mostly competes at 115 pounds, has tested her skills versus the likes of Ariane Carnelossi, Kinberly Novaes, Jessica Delboni and Souza.
Aline and Bianca agree with one thing: Zhang was their toughest opponent in more than 40 fights combined. The future UFC strawweight champion defeated Aline via unanimous decision in June 2017, and four months later submitted Bianca via first-round armbar.
“I knew I was fighting a high-level athlete,” Bianca said. “(I) still managed to do a bit of a good job on the feet in the first round, but then I got lost on the ground. I believe I would have fought better if I had exchanged a little bit more on the feet with her. I think that was my best fight.”
Aline said she also fought Zhang under kickboxing rules, fighting to a draw after a single nine-minute round. But there’s no record or footage available online. “I fought her twice, and she has heavy hands, heavy kicks, so she was my toughest opponent,” she said.
Ricardo’s goal for the next couple of years is to win four or five in a row and sign an “international contract.” He adds “it probably won’t happen to get in the UFC.”
“That’s how the fight game works,” Ricardo said. “If you’re not well-trained, you’re gonna get beat up. That’s inevitable, it will happen. Maybe some of them think it’s gonna be an easy fight because they are coming off many losses, but we’ll bounce back. We’re from a small team and we never turn down fights. … I actually prefer they thinking it’s gonna be easy, because that’s when we’re going to surprise them.”
“Many athletes choose opponents these days, but I’ve never done that,” Aline says. “I’d fight whoever they offered. ‘This girl wants to fight you’ – cool, I’m in. I’m always training and fighting whoever. There are some traps along the way, no doubt, when they call you on short notice and you have to cut weight and get weak for the fight. But you have to be ready for everything.”
Bianca has focused more on her kickboxing career over the past few months, a sport in which she says her record stands at 13-2. The 24-year-old knows it would likely take a miracle for a 7-11 athlete to turn around her career and convince Dana White to offer a deal to enter the eight-sided cage one day.
But, she adds, “I love fighting more than anything.” She was scheduled to fight MMA in May, but the event got canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This adrenaline I feel fighting MMA gives me strength and inspires me to get up every morning and teach my classes,” she said. “I see everything as a learning experience so I can help other athletes and my students in thew future, and maybe excel in kickboxing and muay Thai.”
In the end, the journey of the Sattelmayers means more than where the finish line is. The UFC is a distant dream, indeed, but that doesn’t keep them from trying. With a “no more losses” motto, Aline vows to bounce back as she approaches her 30th birthday.
“I love training and fighting, and I’ll always do my best,” she said. “It’s my passion. I go crazy and stressed when I’m not training. Fighting is the biggest love of my life.”
“I know the UFC is a bit distant based on my MMA record, (and) Invicta too, but I love what I do,” Bianca agrees, then laughs. “Brazilians never give up. I train every single day for the opportunity of fighting again one day and doing a good job.”