Mubadala Arena was home to a series of dramatic finals today, with the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2018 drawing to an exciting close in front of electrified crowds and high-profile dignitaries.
With more than 9,000 athletes from 120 countries taking part over the course of two weeks, and total prize money exceeding USD 1 million, the finals concluded the sport’s largest and most prominent tournament, as well as the UAE Jiu-Jitsu 2017 – 2018 season.
The finals saw Brazil secure first place with a total of nine gold medals, one silver and six bronze. USA came second overall with one gold and two silvers, while Norway and Belgium took home one gold medal each. The UAE won two silver medals, with Faisal Al Ketbi and Talib Al Karbi making it through to today’s finals.
The Championship has been held by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Emirati champion Faisal Al Ketbi and Isaque Braz from Brazil grappled in out in a dramatic final for the black belt 85kg Adult division. Isaque Braz eventually claimed the title with a two point lead, with the Emirati fan-favourite taking home a silver medal from the prestigious Championship.
After the match, Al Ketbi said: “I did everything possible to do my country proud. I am now looking forward and preparing for ASIAD 2018 in August, when I hope to improve my standing.”
Gold medallist Isaque Braz said he was pleased with today’s result, but needs to remain focussed for future tournaments. “I like the pressure of competing abroad, where everyone wants my competitor to win — it’s the best thing to keep me motivated,” he said.
Speaking on the event itself, Braz said: “In my opinion, this has been the most professional championship, and there’s a lot of support for the sport here.”
The Master 1 69kg black belt final was also held today, seeing Emirati national Talib Al Karbi take on Bazilian Thiago Maques, with the Brazilian forcing a submission with a leglock.
In the men’s Adult 62kg black belt division, Brazilian Joao Miyao defeated Wanki Chae from South Korea, with a final score of 7-2.
Renowned US competitor Gianni Grippo and Paulo Miyao from Brazil took centre stage for the Adult black belt 69kg division, with Grippo taking an early two-point lead before Miyao equalised and took gold with a one point advantage.
Meanwhile, Jacob Mackenzie from Canada and Espen Mathiesen from Norway battled it out in the 77kg black belt final, with the Norwegian winning by submission in the third minute.
In the black belt 94kg final, Adam Wadzinski from Poland and Felipe Pena from Brazil competed for first place, with Pena taking gold with a four point lead.
The finals concluded with Lucio Rodrigues from the United Kingdom and Erbeth Santos competing for gold in the 110kg division. Santos took gold after a chokehold forced Rodrigues into submission.
The women’s Adult 49kg brown and black belt final saw Mayssa Caldas Bastos from Brazil take the gold in a close final, securing two points over Australian Livia Gluchowska in a victory by submission.
Belgian Amal Amjahid and Brazilian Amanda Nogueira battled it out on the mat for the male brown and black belt 55kg final, with Amal taking gold after a dramatic armlock and chokehold led to submission.
The brown and black belt 62kg final saw Bianca Basilio represent Brazil and Ffion Davies from represent the UK, in a close match that ultimately saw Basilio awarded a win by the judges.
In the women’s black belt 70kg final, Jessica Swanson represented the US and Ana Carolina from Brazil took to the mat, with the Brazilian taking gold after securing a nine point lead.
Marta Szarecka from Poland and Angelica Galvao from the US competed in the brown and black belt 90kg final. Galvao secured gold for the US with a six point lead over her Brazilian competitor.
Speaking after her victor, Galvao said: “It’s the best feeling when you work so hard for something, and conquer everything that stood in the way. I was a purple belt when I first competed in Abu Dhabi, and faced some incredibly tough competition, so it was great to come back and challenge myself in a much heavier division. I’ve had to use my skills, speed and agility to my advantage.”
A number of high-profile dignitaries spectating the gripping finals, including H.H. Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Nayhan, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Sultan Al Shakhbout Al Nahyan and Sheikh Tariq Bin Faisal Al Qasimi.
Also attending were H.E. Suhail Al Mazourei, Minister of Energy and Industry; H.E. Dr. Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment; H.E. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khalil, Chairman of the Department of Community Development; H.E. Mohmmed Al Junaibi, Director of the President's Protocol Office at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs; H.E. Mohamed Al Hamadi, CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation; H.E. Saif Ghobash, Director General of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi; and Panagiotis Theodoropoulos, President of the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation.
The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation also saw wide attendance, including H.E. Abdulmonem Al Hashimi, Chairman of the UAEJJF; H.E. Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Advisor to the ADEK Chairman; H.E. Mohammed Bin Dalmouj Al Dhaheri, UAEJJF Board Member; Mansour Al Dhaheri, UAEJJF Board Member; Youssef Al Batran, UAEJJF Board Member; and Fahad Al Shamsi, UAEJJF CEO.
H.E. Abdulmonem Al Hashimi, Chairman of the UAEJJF, said: “The tenth edition of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship has been a great success that we are particularly proud of. It has represented the UAE’s deep capabilities in hosting and organizing global championships of the highest calibre. This is paving a new path for Jiu-Jitsu, which now holds the deep interest of Emirati society.
“The UAE has succeeded in drawing global attention, having taken its place at the forefront of the sport. At the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, we have worked diligently to build a generation of professional Jiu-Jitsu athletes that are capable of taking on the world’s most notable champions and represent the UAE across international tournaments. Over the past ten years, we have raised the bar for Jiu-Jitsu events and the level of participation. Looking to the coming decade, we will continue building on this success and keep developing our national capabilities,” he added.
Mohamed Al Marzouqi, manager of the tenth Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to organize such a prestigious and successful event. “I would like to thank the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation Chairman for his trust and support, which facilitated such an excellent edition of the Championship. With the expertise in sporting events that exists here in the UAE, we were able to overcome all challenges and obstacles in order to deliver a truly remarkable and memorable event.”