Faisal Al Ketbi’s first appearance in the Abu Dhabi World Masters did not end as well as it started, but the Emirati jiu-jitsu star can still take a lot of positives into the main event over the next two days.
Al Ketbi, 33, won his first contest over Russian Arsen Shapiev by points 3-1 but went down to eventual winner Adam Wardzinski of Poland by submission.
Returning to the mat for the third time via repachage, Al Ketbi went down narrowly to Brazilian Pablo Aragao to a referee’s decision after 3-3 deadlock at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena on Wednesday.
Wardzinski went on to claim gold in the Masters 1 black belt 94k category, defeating Aragao by points 1-0.
“A majority of the fighters were returning to competition after more than a year but we are just glad to be back,” Wardzinski said.
“We have prepared well knowing Abu Dhabi draws the best fighters from around the world but preparation alone is no substitute for the actual thing.
“Obviously very glad to win gold in the Masters and now looking forward for the main competition, and to take the momentum forward, hopefully.”
Al Ketbi, who returned to top flight action after more than a year, will now focus on the 12th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-JitsuChampionship on Thursday and Friday.
The Brazilians once again dominated the men’s black belt division, wining 19 out of the 24 gold medals that were up for grabs.
Honours were shared in the women’s category amongst Katiuscia Dias of Guinea-Bissau, Mongolian Buyandelger Battsogt, Eloisa Peres of Spain and Brazilian Anna Ardisson sharing the four golds that were on offer.
The final two days of the competition will witness high-octane action in the professional division. Top male and female jiu-jitsu stars will go toe-to-toe on the road to glory and a share of the Dh2.7million prize fund.