Three-time defending champion Marcus Almeida will defend his black-belt absolute class title while fellow Brazilian Gabriella Garcia will be looking to regain the women’s crown after missing out last year when the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship takes place next month.
Among the local fighters who will try to make an impression are the UAE’s Faisal Al Ketbi and the Abu Dhabi-based Jose Junior, Ricardo Evangelista, and Marina Ribeiro in the women’s division.
“I am more than prepared for the World Pro and I am pretty sure that the absolute class belt this year will stay in UAE,” said Evangelista, who won a gold in the Grand Slam Los Angeles in October and double gold at the Grand Slam Rio in December.
The event has been expanded to 10 days this year, with two new events added, one for jiu-jitsu legends and one exclusively for Emiratis.
“We are pretty much sure to have the excitement go on for each and every day of the competition,” said Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, chief executive of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, at yesterday’s launch at the Ipic Arena.
“We know it’s a big undertaking but we are confident. It is not only the action on the mat but we have several side events for families and also a lot of surprises for the fans and spectators.
“In the UAE alone we have more than 100,000 practicing the sport at all levels and categories, and I’m sure they will either be participating or attending to watch the action on the mat.”
The championships take place at the Ipic Arena at Zayed Sports City from April 15 to 24 and are set to draw over 5,000 competitors from around 100 countries, all vying for a slice of the Dh2.5 million prize fund.
“The idea is to provide winning opportunities for as many as possible without compromising on the quality of the championship,” said Al Shamsi, who is also the general secretary of the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union.
“As the hosts, we also want to provide Emirati juvenile and youth players the opportunity to be in the spotlight and soak in the experience of fighting in front of big crowds.
“We have shortlisted the names for the legends event but will have to wait until list is finalised to make an announcement. There are some big and famous names with a large following.”
Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship
• April 15 and 16: Abu Dhabi Kids World Championships
• April 17 and 18: Abu Dhabi Youth World Cup
• April 19 to 23: Abu Dhabi World Professional Championships
• April 24: Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Legends