Yara Nascimento crowned Queen of Mats on opening day of Abu Dhabi Grand Slam finale

Brazilian emerged undefeated in the six-player league for the prestigious jiu-jitsu title

Yara Nascimento celebrates after her win over Rafaela Bertolot in the Queen of Mats at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena on Friday. UAEJJF
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Yara Nascimento was crowned Queen of Mats, the feature event on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Grand Slam World Tour at Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena on Friday.

The Brazilian rounded off the fourth edition of the six-player league contest for the world’s top ranked black belt women with a perfect record.

A four-time Abu Dhabi Grand Slam champion, Nascimento is the only heavyweight in the circuit to win against compatriot Gabrieli Pessanha, winner of both Queen of Mats and Abu Dhabi World Professional Championship titles last year.

Pessanha wasn’t competing in this year’s lineup but the competition featured Julia Boscher, a three-time Abu Dhabi Grand Slam champion, Ingridd Sousa, last year’s gold medallist in the 70kg division at the Abu Dhabi World Pro, as well as Thalyta Silva, who generated huge attention for her performance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in London.

Rebeca Lima, the youngest at 19, and runner-up in the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Slam London, and the Abu Dhabi-based Rafaela Bertolot were the other two in the league.

Nascimento won all her fights and the final contest against Bertolot by submission.

“I can't describe how thrilled I am,” she said after claiming one of her biggest jiu-jitsu career prizes. “Winning the title tonight means I was able to surpass the best in my sport and I need to thank my technical staff for providing us with everything in terms of training and support.”

Nascimento, 26, will be aiming for a double when she takes part in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam for Professionals on Sunday.

“It was tough tonight with five fights against some of the best athletes in the circuit,” she added. “It’s always hard to win in combat sports but I have had it going wonderful so far and now looking ahead for the next competition. I got 48 hours to recover for that and will be back for another title on Sunday, hopefully.”

Meanwhile, Emirati athletes dominated the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam World Tour finale for Youth on the opening day, winning 35 gold medals from the 87 available.

“Today’s competitions saw amazing technical levels and brilliant performances by young men and women who have demonstrated that they are on the right track to achieve an outstanding professional career in the coming years,” said Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, vice president of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

“One of the most important aspects of this tournament is the opportunity for our athletes to meet with their colleagues from other jiu-jitsu schools around the world.

“This has a positive impact on refining their talent, developing their experience, and preparing them in the best possible way to compete in upcoming competitions.”

Tariq Al Bahri, event director of Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro, added: “Today’s results demonstrate once again that Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournaments are gaining enormous popularity.

“We enjoyed large crowds of people cheering on the competitors, but more importantly all the participants put on fantastic performances, serving as motivation for them to continue to improve and strive for even better results in the future.”

Updated: May 08, 2022, 9:04 AM