ABU DHABI // The Emirati fans will have someone to cheer for in tonight’s final fight for the absolute belt in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
There is a good reason for them to stand behind Jose Junior, the Brazilian coach who has been training Emirati children since 2008, when the sport was first included in the curriculum of the public schools by the Abu Dhabi Education Council.
Junior will face compatriot Felipe Pena for the event’s biggest prize in the absence of three-time champion Marcus Almeida, another Brazilian, who was a late withdrawal from both the absolute and weight category.
“It is the biggest achievement of my jiu-jitsu career,” said an elated Junior after reaching the open-weight final for the first time in four attempts in the World Pro.
“I was always motivated and kept working hard.
“Never did I let my ambition to take a beating and that’s what this sport is all about. It is what we teach our youngsters.
“I know Felipe [Pena] but I have never faced him before. It is going to be a great contest and, Inshallah, I will do my best to win.”
In the previous attempts, Junior has never reached the medal round in the absolute class but twice won bronze in his weight division.
Pena will try to complete a double after reaching the +94kg final. It was a tough path for the Brazilian as he had to fight his way through four opponents to reach his second final.
Faisal Al Ketbi, the home favourite fighting in only his second year in the black belt, bowed out in the quarter-finals to Brazilian Erberth Mesquita in the 94kg weight division.
The hosts, however, enjoyed some success last night, winning five gold medals, three in Masters-1, and one each in the Masters-2 as well as a first success in the women’s adult category.
Mohammed Al Qubaisi, Musabbeh Kathri and Ibrahim Al Hosani struck gold for the UAE, all in the Masters-1 categories in the brown belt 77kg, blue belt 69kg and purple belt 69kg respectively.
“It is my first gold in the brown belt and I am glad because it was a tough category,” said Al Qubaisi, who won gold in both 2009 and 2010 in the white belt, and in purple last year.
“Hopefully, after my open-weight fight, my coach will put me in the black-belt division.”
Al Qubaisi overcame Marco Filho of Brazil in the final, while Kathri got the better of Hungarian Akos Dualszky and Al Hosani won over Mohammed Khair from Jordan.
Ahmed Suhail Al Ketbi won the fourth gold with victory over Jeyhun Guliyev of Azerbaijan and Wadima Al Ahbabi edged out American Alma Kenup to grab a first women’s gold.
Mackenzie Dern stayed on course of a title defence in the black belt 55kg after missing out on her title defence of the absolute class.
It was not an easy passage for the cheery American though.
She had to draw all her might to overcome her two Brazilian opponents, the first by a narrow margin by advantage points over Ana Alencar and then Ariadne de Oliveira by points 3-0.
Brazil headed the medal table with 35 gold from 104 finals worked off until the penultimate day of the World Pro.
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