More than 2,000 fighters have arrived for the twice-postponed 12th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena.
The event gets underway with the Abu Dhabi World Youth Championships for males and females on Tuesday, followed by the Abu Dhabi World Masters on Wednesday.
The final two days of the competition focuses on the professional division, which will see top male and female stars go toe-to-toe compete for a slice of the Dh2.7million prize fund.
Beatriz Mesquita is a regular participant in the World Pro, and the multiple gold medal winner from Brazil said she is glad to be back after a year of uncertainties.
“Last year’s event had to be called off but we were confident that the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) would ensure that the World Pro goes ahead as planned this year,” she said.
“That was something that was driving me and my fellow fighters back home in Brazil to keep on working hard, keep fit, and train with this goal in mind.
“It has been a challenging period for us as professional athletes and me and my fellow fighters are just glad this event is taking place, and the opportunity to compete against the world’s best in more than a year.”
Mesquita, 29, won gold in the black belt 62-kilogram in the last staging of the event in April 2019 and is confident for her title defence.
“I am feeling really good about the competition and I have started studying the fighters I am likely to face more closely now and begun formulating plans for each of them,” she added.
Gutemberg Pereira shared his compatriot's sentiment and said he was glad to be on the plane to Abu Dhabi to compete in the highlight of the global jiu-jitsu season.
“I am very thankful to the UAE federation for organising the 12th edition of the World Pro in these unprecedented times,” the Brazilian said.
“We athletes are happiest to get the chance to go on to the mat and do what we love. The atmosphere in Abu Dhabi is always fantastic and very motivating, and the people here really love jiu-jitsu.
“I am confident that I will put in a strong showing and finish the ranking season in the best possible manner.”
Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, vice president of UAEJJF, said that Abu Dhabi’s status as the capital of jiu-jitsu brought with it a lot of responsibility, which the federation is keen to justify.
“Today, Abu Dhabi is the unrivalled international home of jiu-jitsu and we have committed to ensure that the World Pro’s latest edition adds another feather to our cap," he said.
“The global jiu-jitsu community has given us an enthusiastic response and fighters from all over the world are here to compete on the grandest stage of global jiu-jitsu.
“Protecting the health and wellness of all our participants is our top priority and we have taken a lot of care to ensure that our comprehensive set of health and safety protocols will put everyone’s mind at ease, and allow them to focus on performing to the best of their abilities on this huge platform.”