DUBAI: In the next few days, over 2,000 athletes will be making the UAE capital their home as it hosts the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (ADWPJJC), with the earliest action kicking off on Tuesday at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena.
The ADWJJC, running from April 6-9, is the largest and most prestigious event on the global jiu-jitsu calendar.
The 12th edition of the showpiece tournament will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Mohammed Salem Al-Dhaheri, vice president of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF), said Abu Dhabi’s status as the jiu-jitsu capital brought with it a lot of responsibility and trust that the organizers are keen to justify.
“Today, Abu Dhabi is the unrivalled international home of jiu-jitsu, and we have committed to ensure that the ADWPJJC’s latest edition adds another feather to our cap,” he said.
“The global jiu-jitsu community has given us an enthusiastic response, and fighters from all over the world are here to compete on the grandest stage of global jiu-jitsu,” he added.
“Protecting the health and wellness of all our participants is our top priority, and we have taken a lot of care to ensure that our comprehensive set of health and safety protocols will put everyone’s mind at ease and allow them to focus on performing to the best of their abilities on this huge platform.”
It has been a tough year for many of the fighters, but Zayed Al-Katheeri, one of the UAE’s best competitors who competes in the 56-kg weight class, is grateful for the opportunity to face off against some of the leading athletes in the world.
“I am very excited to compete in the purple belt category, and I am really looking at putting in a strong performance,” he said.
“The ADWPJJC is one of the toughest tournaments in the world with the quality of talent that it attracts, and doing well on this stage is doubly sweeter,” he added.
“I have been working hard on my preparations, and also studying videos of prospective opponents to identify areas of improvement and gain an understanding of different fighting styles.”
Tareq Annzee, a jiu-jitsu purple belt from Jordan competing in the 85-kg category at the Master 1 division, said: “The popularity of jiu-jitsu is on the rise in Jordan, and certainly having a global championship in ADWPJJC in Abu Dhabi year after year plays a big part in that growth.”
He added: “With all the restrictions going on in the sport globally, I am very fortunate to be able to compete in the sport that I love against the best of the world, in a safe environment.”
Black belt Gutemberg Pereira from Brazil said after a year of cancelled events and uncertainty, he is glad to be on the plane to Abu Dhabi to compete at what is the highlight of the global jiu-jitsu season.
“Us athletes are happiest to get the chance to go on to the mat and do what we love. The atmosphere in Abu Dhabi is always fantastic and very motivating, and the people here really love jiu-jitsu,” he said.
“I am confident that I will put in a strong showing and finish the ranking season in the best possible manner.”
For 29-year-old Beatriz Mesquita, competing and performing well at the ADWPJJC is integral to her growth as a fighter, with the championship giving her the chance to take on the best in the world and gain an in-depth understanding of her progress.
“There was a lot of uncertainty in the previous year, but we were confident that the UAEJJF would ensure that the ADWPJJC goes ahead,” the Brazilian said.
“That was something that was driving me and my fellow fighters to keep on working hard, keep fit and train with a goal in mind.”
Mesquita won the gold medal in the 62-kg adults category at the previous edition, and her preparation to add another to her cabinet is in full swing.
“I am feeling really good about the competition, and I have started studying the fighters I am likely to face more closely now and begun formulating plans for each of them,” she said.
Action at the 12th edition of the ADWPJJC begins on Tuesday with under-18 athletes taking to the mats at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena, followed by the masters category on Wednesday. The final two days of the competition are reserved for action in the professional division.