Aljamain Sterling defeated fellow UFC fighter Chase Hooper in a five-round, three-minute no-gi bout. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Former UFC champion Aljamain Sterling won the grappling welterweight division — the main event of the evening as the second edition of the Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship (ADXC 2), concluded at Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Sterling defeated fellow UFC fighter Chase Hooper in a five-round, three-minute no-gi bout. The highly anticipated matchup saw both fighters engaging in intense takedowns and submission attempts. However, in a split decision, Sterling was declared the winner.

The American star, with a record of 23 wins, was able to achieve victory over Hooper, who has 13 wins in various world championships. Sterling said: “Hooper did some good stuff and I expected that. He was the bigger guy coming into this and I’m trying to transition, going up a weight class, so what better way to test my skills than to see how good of a grappler I truly am for MMA and for competition BJJ than going against a guy like that. I thought I won it by unanimous decision, but it’s jiu-jitsu. I understand the submission attempt, so I gotta look at it again. I look forward to coming here again and beating more opponents.”

After its successful debut in November, ADXC 2 showcased a display of fights across jiu-jitsu and grappling. With 14 fights featuring 28 athletes, the tournament confirms that its success is a testament to the growing popularity of the sport. The championship will now move to Brazil for the third edition on March 2.

Before the main event, Bruno Lima from Portugal secured a victory by knocking out Manuel Ribamar in their jiu-jitsu middleweight bout. In the jiu-jitsu co-main event, Ffion Davies of Wales defeated Brazilian Luana Pinheiro by submission in just 51 seconds in the first round of their grappling catchweight bout, making it the fastest match of the tournament.

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Mohammed Al Suwaidi achieved a decisive win over South Korean Seonghyeon Joo. Image Credit: Supplied

Earlier in the evening, Mohammed Al Suwaidi achieved a decisive win over South Korean Seonghyeon Joo, becoming the first Emirati champion since the championship was introduced.

Huge success

Abdulmunem Alsayedmohamed Alhashmi, Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, President of the Asian Ju-Jitsu Union, Senior Vice President of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation, and Chairman of International Vision Sports Management, said: “We are pleased with the widespread response to the success of ADXC 2, which is an important addition to our local and international tournaments. It has become the focal point for fans of jiu-jitsu, grappling, and martial arts worldwide.

“This tournament was initially launched to introduce a new Emirati product to the world of mixed martial arts, providing athletes the opportunity to showcase their skills on one of the strongest platforms and compete inside a cage, offering fun, excitement, and a unique experience. The tournament is filled with enthusiasm, especially with the participation of an elite group of distinguished fighters in their respective weight categories at the international level.

“ADXC 2 marks another chapter of excellence and was unique as it showcased Abu Dhabi’s excellence in organising international sporting events. I want to extend my congratulations to the team that made this possible. They spared no effort in ensuring its tremendous success, from setting up a world-class venue to selecting the best participants; everything was executed in the best possible manner.

“Additionally, I want to express heartfelt thanks to the fighters, partners, sponsors, and everyone involved in this endeavour. Work will continue from now on to prepare for the next edition, scheduled to take place in Brazil on March 2, in collaboration with new partners. Our aim is to sustain success and achieve the goals for which the tournament was launched, especially considering the participation of several UAE champions in the previous two editions, showcasing their talents at commendable levels, a trend we are committed to maintaining in future editions,” he added.

Mohammed Jassim Al Hosani, Member of the Organising Committee said: “We are overwhelmed by the success achieved by the ADXC in its inaugural and second editions, and we were keen to ensure that it was in the best shape. We included a stacked fight card with the best group of athletes in both go and no-gi divisions, in line with the guidance and directives of our visionary leadership, who are very keen on preserving traditional jiu-jitsu fights while simultaneously developing and advancing this sport. We intend to continue these efforts and achieve more success in the next edition scheduled in Brazil on March 2.”

'Long, long journey'

Bruno Lima, gold winner of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2023, and who secured victory over Manuel Ribamar via a unanimous decision, thanked UAE for making him realise his dreams. Lima said: “The preparations for ADXC were from the beginning; everything that we did culminated in the moments. I have been preparing myself all my life. Not much has happened. It’s like when you put a seed in the soil, nothing much happens, nothing much happens, and then a tree grows, and eventually, it gives fruits. Now I am eating the fruit, and it’s very nice but a very long, long journey.”

Elsewhere, Ffion Davies was all praise for the event after her victory. Ffion Davies said: “The whole experience has been very unreal. It was like going into an MMA fight, and I was like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, I don’t want to fight in MMA. But then I realised it’s grappling, it’s fine. The whole setup was literally professional and amazing, so I want to be back for sure.”