Brazilian rivalry grows of age as Jose Junior stalls Ricardo Evangelista’s gold sweep

Junior edged out the favourite and his compatriot to win the black belt absolute class at the Ras Al Khaimah Open this weekend.

Jose Junior is about to celebrate after pinning down his more fancied opponent Ricardo Evangelista. Courtesy Max Buzin / Palm Sports
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Jose Junior prevented Ricardo Evangelista from earning a second double-gold medal haul in two weeks when he edged out the favourite to win the black belt absolute class in an all-Brazilian final at the Ras Al Khaimah Open this weekend.

Evangelists had Junior pinned on the mat in the opening two minutes, but the latter rolled him over with spectacular sweep to take a two-point lead which he preserved until the end of the six-minute final at the RAK Education Council Auditorium.

“We have met some 15 years ago as teenagers back home in Brazil and I can remember we have won against each other over two meetings, but to win against him when he’s on top of his game gave me a great feeling,” said Junior.

“I went into the absolute class final more determined to win after losing to him in the semi-final of our weight [94+kg] division.

“Before the final, me and my coach [Helder Medeiros] worked out a few ploys to counter Ricardo’s moves and it worked perfectly.

“Still, it was a very tough final to win. Actually it was a tactical fight.

“There was a lot of moves and manoeuvres that took place throughout the whole fight that would have gone unnoticed from those watching it from the outside.”

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Both Junior, 30, and Evangelista, 29, are instructors based in Abu Dhabi. Junior is employed by Palms Sports, the technical arm of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, as the supervisor of the Abu Dhabi schools programme for more than seven years.

“As instructors, we want to lead by example,” said Junior.

“It is also the passion that we train aside from the busy work schedule. I spend seven days a week training both in the morning and late evenings between the work hours to keep myself in shape for the competitions.”

Junior also won the 92kg weight and was runner-up in the absolute class in No-Gi (without the traditional kimono) competition.

“Having to compete on both days in two different competitions was very tiring but my objective is to prepare for the Grand Slam London in March, so this type of preparation is required,” he said.

Junior won a gold double at the Al Ain Open in September and returned to the RAK Open after injury forced him out of October’s Dubai Open, in which Evangelista won a gold double in his first appearance.

Evangelista went on to win a gold at the Grand Slam Tokyo and another double at the Grand Slam Rio de Janeiro last week.

He was a hot favourite to win the absolute class final in RAK as he had got the better of Junior on his way to winning the 94+kg weight division.

Priscilla Cerquira completed a gold double in the women’s black belt by winning the 70kg and the absolute class as the Brazilians made a clean sweep of the 10 black belt division finals for both men and women.

apassela@thenational.ae

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