ABU DHABI // At 36, when many jiu-jitsu fighters are contemplating dialling down on competing, Paulo Pinto is bucking the trend, saying he is ready for a tilt at the World Championship in Los Angeles in November.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor got his preparation off to an encouraging start, winning the Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan Cup No Gi (without the traditional kimono) black belt 108-kilogram weight division on Saturday.
Pinto came through two bouts, outclassing compatriots John Aguiar by points in the semi-final and Wagner Ribeiro 3-1 on advantage points in the final.
Pinto’s task was made even harder as he had to fight in the heavier 108kg because his own 94kg weight division was scrapped due to lack of entries.
“It definitely is harder when you have to fight opponents heavier than you but it’s not the first time for me as I have competed in the open weights,” said Pinto, a regular competitor on the local scene since arriving in Abu Dhabi four years ago.
“I take part regularly in both the local and international competitions because that’s what I love to do. This season I want to do something more, and that’s to compete in the World Championship in the No Gi division.
“The No Gi suits me best as I can use my experience in wrestling to good effect. There aren’t many competitions for No Gi but if I can compete once in every two months it would be enough for my preparation.”
Pinto, who coaches the military’s special forces, topped the ranking in the black belt Masters-2 division last season, a position he hopes to retain this term.
“Abu Dhabi is already the best venue for the sport and with around 300 Brazilian black belts around it’s like competing at the highest international level,” he said. “If you can win against these guys, then you definitely have a chance to compete and win at the world stage.”
Jose Junior, another Brazilian instructor based in Abu Dhabi, revived his fighting career to become the world No 1 last season, a path Pinto hopes to follow.
The second and final day of the Ramadan Cup saw 19 finals with an overall prize purse of Dh90,000.
The remaining three black belt golds were won by Brazilians. Adriano Araujo overcame Mohammed Al Qubaisi, a member of the UAE national team, by points 2-0 in the 75kg.
The other two golds were won by Edson Junior, in the 83kg Masters-1, and Anderson Reis in the 108kg Masters-1.
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