Big night awaits for Emirati star Omar Al Fadhli at the Jiu-Jitsu Grand Slam World Tour

He becomes the first Arab fighter to compete in the King of Mats in Abu Dhabi

The UAE's Omar Al Fadhli celebrates after winning the final of 62 kg brown belt category against Leonardo Mario of Brazil in the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu championship held at Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi on November 18, 2021. Pawan Singh / The National
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Elite jiu-jitsu fighters from around the world assemble for the final round of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam World Tour at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena at Zayed Sports City from Friday.

The three-day competition features the Youth, Masters and Professional categories in the Grand Slam World Tour, giving participants the chance to improve their world ranking and win a slice of the $225,000 prize fund on offer.

The competition kicks off with the Grand Slam for Youth and the Queen of Mats on the opening day, followed by the Grand Slam Masters and King of Mats on Saturday, and the Grand Slam Professional on Sunday.

The Emirati jiu-jitsu star Omar Al Fadhli will be one of the biggest draws on the second day as he will be the first Emirati and the first Arab to compete in the King of Mats competition.

“To get the opportunity to compete in the King of Mats is every Emirati player’s dream,” Al Fadhli said.

“This means facing the world’s strongest and toughest jiu-jitsu players, who are used to such an environment and have a lot of experience in the top flight on the mat.”

Al Fadhli, 21, holds several jiu-jitsu records and is the youngest Emirati to receive the black belt.

“The King of Mats is another first for me and another opportunity,” he added. “I started preparing for this competition a long time ago.

“World jiu-jitsu legends will compete in this tournament, which will provide us with the best possible technical value as jiu-jitsu professionals. In terms of preparations, the players have to be at their physical and mental peaks.”

Zayed Al Kathiri, who features in the professional category, has previously participated and won the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. He returns looking not just to compete, but to replicate his previous feat.

“Winning in front of the home audience would be a special feeling,” he said. “My goals are not only to compete in the tournament but also to achieve a meaningful result that will help me develop my technical level and lead to greater accomplishments in the future, particularly when representing the UAE in the Asian Games in China.”

Balqis Al Hashemi, is one of the up-and-coming Emirati female stars and will be among the athletes competing in the women’s division.

This tournament will serve as a springboard for us to step up our preparations
Balqis Al Hashemi

“We have a lot of international competitions coming up and this tournament will serve as a springboard for us to step up our preparations,” she said.

“I’m delighted to compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam World Tour in order to be successful and prove that the UAE's players are capable of reaching the very top of the rankings in a combat sport.”

Following high demand for registration, ticket applications for the event organised by Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro and hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, closed on Tuesday.

“This event demonstrates the UAE's and Abu Dhabi's remarkable accomplishment in hosting the world’s most prestigious championships,” said Tariq Al Bahri, the director general of Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro.

“Considering the participation of elite stars in the regional and international arenas, it has again proven to be one of the most prominent jiu-jitsu competitions in the world.

“As the championship brings together the world's top-ranked athletes, notably for the King of Mats and Queen of Mats events, the Jiu-Jitsu Arena is set for some high-calibre fights.”

Updated: May 05, 2022, 12:01 PM