Ali Monfaradi, a black belt holder from Bahrain, says it's a 'humbling' experience to just qualify for the event. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi: A number of strong competitors from other Arab countries will be vying with the UAE for their place in the sun in the 12th edition of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, set to be held in the UAE’s capital from April 6-9.

Ali Monfaradi, a black belt holder from Bahrain, will compete in the 69-kg category. Saying that he was “humbled” to represent his country in such a prestigious tournament, Monfaradi told the organisers: “Just qualifying for the ADWPJJC in my category is a very humbling feeling. My category has traditionally been dominated by South American athletes and has been quite a difficult one to crack on the global level. I have been training extremely hard to ensure that I put on a strong performance and do Bahrain and myself proud.”

The ADWPJJC will welcome 2000 athletes from across the world and Monfaradi said that he was grateful to the host body for organising the tournament during these challenging times. “To be honest, the chance to come and fight at this tournament is a true gift. I am so thankful to the organisers for ensuring that the ADWPJJC comes through. The global jiu-jitsu community is lucky to get a chance to compete on such a huge platform for me with the UAE being right around the corner, there was no chance that I would miss it,” he said.

Camile Sleiman, of Lebanon, is excited to be taking part in his first major event since the pandemic. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Camile Sleiman of Lebanon will be competing in the masters category and said that after looking at Abu Dhabi’s previous record of putting on world class events amidst the pandemic, he was feeling absoluetly safe about travelling to the UAE capital for the ADWPJJC. “This is the first jiu-jitsu tournament I am participating in since the pandemic and I am very excited. I have managed to train regularly but fighting at a competition as important as this is always very exciting. Also, I have just received my black belt in December and I am looking forward to fighting in a new division and against some amazing athletes,” he said.

Qutayba Alloughani, a blue belt holder from Kuwait in the 85-kg category, said he could foresee a growing number of people taking up the sport. “I think jiu-jitsu is a beautiful sport and we are seeing accomplished champions emerging from our region over the last few years. Back home in Kuwait, more people are taking it up and awareness about its benefits is growing. I am looking forward to doing well here at the ADWPJJC and help raise interest about jiu-jitsu in my country,” he said.

Action at the ADWPJJC begins on Tuesday (April 6) with athletes in the under-18 and under-21 categories taking to the mats at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena, followed by the masters category on April 7. The final two days of the competition are reserved for high-octane action in the professional division - which will see top male and female stars of global jiu-jitsu go toe-to-toe on the road to glory.