Home heroes raised the UAE flag high with a series of winning performances on the third day of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, as the world’s best fighters took to the mats in the blue and purple belt categories.
On a fierce first day of competition for professional athletes at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi, the long and disrupted preparations for the local fighters finally came to fruition as the UAE captured 22 medals to top the country rankings with 18,320 points, ahead of Brazil, with 9,560 points, and Russia, which came third with 2,560 points.
UAE national team coach Ramon Lemos praised the Emirati athletes for their performance on the mats after a dramatic day.
“The training never stopped for the UAE athletes, even with the pandemic, since the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation offered the players a safe environment to train and compete, and it’s paid off,” he said. “All of the closed training camps and local tournaments have played a big role in helping the UAE athletes reach such high-performance levels to be able to compete against the best of the world and raise the UAE flag high.”
UAE Star Omar Al-Fadhli, 62-kilograms (kg), who captured the gold medal with victory over Brazilian Macley Silva in the finals, said: “My final fight was amazing as I fought with a strong competitor from Brazil and proved to myself that I am the best in the world in my division. Even though I started all my fights behind, everything was under control. The year is not finished, and I will be eyeing more gold medals.”
Lemos was pleased that Al-Fadhli’s strategy worked out perfectly, adding: “In Omar’s three bouts, his strategy is to let the jiu-jitsu flow, and the results will play out. He just controlled the fights perfectly from start to finish with such confidence. “
Meanwhile, one of the UAE’s most recognizable fighters, Zayed Al-Katheiri, clinched gold against Brazil’s Everton Celio with a triangle choke submission in the adult purple belt 56-kg division.
“The championship was tough as it welcomed world-class athletes from around the world,” he said. “I was ready for my final bout, and I predicted who would be reaching the finals and planned accordingly. I worked on the triangle choke move in my training sessions, and it got me the win in the finals.
“I got my preparation from the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam last week, in which I won the gold medal and learned from my mistakes. It was the perfect preparation for today’s bouts,” added Al-Katheiri.
Mohammed Al-Amiri (77-kg) added another gold for the UAE in the purple belt division, beating Victor Lima from Brazil: “My last fight was tough against a strong opponent. Before the final, I studied my opponent’s moves with my coach and set my game plan accordingly. Thankfully, I captured the gold and took my opponent down in the last 20 seconds.”
The championship culminates on Friday night, with the world’s top brown and black belt athletes taking center stage.