Abu Dhabi Xtreme Championship to take martial arts to the next level

Inaugural event to have MMA and jiu-jitsu contests at Zayed Sports City on Friday

Tarek Suleiman trains for his ADXC fight against UFC star Marvin Vettori. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Abu Dhabi is home to some high-profile mixed martial arts (MMA) and jiu-jitsu competitions. Now, fans can enjoy a heady mix of combat sports all in one fight card during the first Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship (ADXC).

The inaugural event will bring together renowned MMA and jiu-jitsu fighters in an action-packed card at the Mubadala Arena at the Zayed Sports City on Friday.

ADXC 1 fight card features 14 contests that include two main events and two co-main events. The event will be a mixture of jiu-jitsu and MMA bouts.

In the No Gi (without kimono) jiu-jitsu main event, Neiman Gracie – who holds the record for most submissions in his division – faces former UFC fighter Ben Henderson. In the Gi main event, Brazilians Isaque Bahiense and Gustavo Batista will square off.

Tarek Suleiman faces Marvin Vettori and Roberto Abreu clashes with Anton Minenko in the two jiu-jitsu co-main events.

Syrian fighter Suleiman, who is pitted against former Venator FC welterweight champion and UFC middleweight contender Vettori, can't wait to make the most of this golden opportunity.

“I have been waiting for an opportunity like this and when it came my way, I jumped on it straightaway. In fact, this is the biggest match of my pro fighting career,” Suleiman told The National.

“When they [organisers] offered me a spot in the ADXC, I said to them: I never get the chance to fight a top-level fighter, and now I get the opportunity to face the fifth-ranked middleweight.

“Of course, it’s not MMA but I’m ready to take him on in jiu-jitsu. I think I was in the right place at the right time to get this opportunity. This kind of magic happens only in Abu Dhabi and I happened to be there.”

Suleiman, 33, is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. He explained that the martial art was part of his daily training in MMA.

“So, it’s a natural progression for me to jump in and test myself in this part of the game,” he said.

“I’m looking for a tough fight from Marvin, and I can’t wait to submit him. My message to him: let’s put on a great show.”

Suleiman is a UAE Warriors powerhouse with 12 wins, six of which were secured through submission.

“ADXC is very close to MMA, and I believe I have an advantage over other jiu-jitsu athletes due to my ability to use the cage, footwork, cutting corners, and pinning them to the fence, allowing me to take them down and gain an advantage,” he said.

“I’m very excited about this event; it’s one of its kind. I love grappling; half of my MMA wins have come through submissions. There are a lot of big names on the card, so I’m pretty overwhelmed by how prestigious the card is. Looking forward to starting fight week and getting the ball rolling."

The ADXC card also boasts a star-studded Arab lineup, including Emirati Zayed Al Katheeri, who has made a name for himself in the world of jiu-jitsu with wins at local and international championships. The Emirati champion will face Thalison Soares.

Updated: October 19, 2023, 1:20 PM