Jose Junior to head to Abu Dhabi World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship as No 1 after winning gold at Grand Slam London

Jose Junior, the Abu Dhabi based jiu-jitsu instructor, consolidated his place at the top of the world rankings after victory over his closest challenger and fellow Brazilian Gabriel Arges at the Grand Slam London.

Jose Junior, centre, won the gold medal in the black belt 110-kilogramme weight division at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam at London’s ExCel Arena. Courtesy UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation
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Jose Junior, the Abu Dhabi based jiu-jitsu instructor, consolidated his place at the top of the world rankings after victory over his closest challenger and fellow Brazilian Gabriel Arges at the Grand Slam London.

Arges sacrificed a possible gold medal in his black belt 85-kilogramme weight division to take on Junior in the 110kg but his bid fell short at the ExCel London Arena on Saturday.

Their final ended in a draw but Arges had a penalty point against him for an attempted sweep while his foot was entangled inside Junior’s Gi (the traditional kimono).

Junior, 31, said it was not only a victory for him but for the UAE where he has revived his career as a competitor.

“When I left Brazil to take up a job as an instructor in the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s Jiu-Jitsu School Programme, I never thought I’ll compete again,” he said.

“Now, I want to prove to the world that the UAE has the best training facilities and the best trainers. Not only has it revived my career as a fighter but have put me on the verge of reaching the pinnacle in jiu-jitsu.”

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Junior had to overcome one bout more than Arges before reaching the final. He outclassed Hungarian Mieszko Maciejewski in his first bout by submission and Antonio Junior in the semi-finals.

Arges drew a first-round bye and won a unanimous points decision over Gabriel Lucas for a place in the final.

“It’s hard to express my feeling,” Junior said after collecting his gold medal. “Every sacrifice is worth it when you win the fights. I believe now I’m one step away from keeping my name as the black belt No 1 in the world.”

The world rankings introduced at the start of the 2016/17 season is the brainchild of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) and carries a bonus prize of US$25,000 (Dh92,000) for the winner.

“I’m not surprised of the result, though, as I worked really hard to be in the position. Now I will fight with all my might to stay as the No 1. I also want to thank God, my family and the UAEJJF for providing me the opportunity.”

Junior said he will be even better when he competes in the season-ending Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the Zayed Sports City’s Ipic Arena from April 10 to 22.

With 400 points up for grabs to the winner at the World Pro, victory for Junior would see him crowned world No 1 in Abu Dhabi.

Yahia Mansour Al Hammadi’s gold medal in the 110kg brown belt Masters 1 was the highlight of the UAE national team’s campaign.

The Emirati received a first-round bye before victories over James Halfhide in the semi-final and Robert Graham in the final, both by unanimous points decisions.

“Another great event and another gold,” Al Hammadi said. “I am very happy for my teammates, my coaches and everyone involved at the federation for a successful season.

“My goal for next season is to compete in the black belt division. I hope that would be a possibility.”

Faisal Al Ketbi finished a creditable fourth in the black belt 85kg. He lost to Briton Bradley Hill on points in the bronze medal match.

The Emirati contingent returned with 14 gold, 14 silver and five bronze medals from the 77 finals in various weight and belt categories.

The most notable out of them were the gold medals won by Ibrahim Al Hosani in the 77kg brown belt Masters 1 and Suhail Al Ketbi in the 77kg brown belt Masters 2.

Male black belt results:

Winners:

62kg: Hiago Silva

69kg: Italo Lins

77kg: Talison Costa

85kg: Charles Santos

94kg: Xande Ribiero

110kg: Jose Junior

Female brown/black belt results:

55kg: Vanessa English

62kg: Luiza Da Costa

70kg: Ana Srour

90kg: Nathiely De Jesus

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