World’s best Jiu-Jitsu heroes, local hopefuls dream of Abu Dhabi glory

Photo: WAM

Abu Dhabi is once again preparing to welcome established champions, contenders and future greats in the undisputed global home of jiu-jitsu, for the 11th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, ADWPJCC, from 20th to 26th April.

The championship, which is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will host athletes from more than 100 countries in the Mubadala Arena, at the Zayed Sports City.

With crucial end-of-season ranking points up for grabs, the ADWPJCC is a huge draw for the world’s biggest stars, who aspire to win the most prestigious titles and cash prizes at this prestigious tournament, the largest on the global jiu-jitsu calendar.

Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Vice Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, said, "The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2019 will bring people together, athletes with dreams and determination, in the spirit of champions. Fans will experience gripping contests featuring the world’s top athletes. Additionally, we want the UAE public to come and support the local athletes and help create a last legacy for jiu-jitsu in the UAE."

One of the thousands eyeing a winning end to the season is reigning World No. 1, black belt João Gabriel Batista De Sousa, from Brazil.

"I am coming from a good season," says De Sousa. "Having faced great fighters all season, I have set my goals and believe that anything can be achieved in Abu Dhabi with the right mindset. I am focused and training hard to give my best performance. I want to finish the season on a high note and be crowned world champion at the championship."

Backed by the UAE’s visionary leadership, including His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the sport is now firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of Emirati athletes. Most begin practising jiu-jitsu at school, since the sport is part of the physical education curriculum, and the chance to win a world title in front of home fans provides a tangible appeal.

"The championship is one of the biggest sporting events and my ultimate goal, through determination and desire, is to win the title and honour our country and supporters. It would be a dream victory," said 23-year-old UAE athlete Mohamed Khalifa Matar Al Kaabi.

The week-long schedule includes the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival and Para Jiu-Jitsu Competitions on 20th April, the Abu Dhabi World Youth Championship on 21st and 22nd April, the Abu Dhabi World Masters Jiu-Jitsu Championship on 23rd April, and the professional competitions for blue to black belts from 24th to 26th April.

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