Zayed Al Kathiri will be playing in the professional category. He has previously participated and won the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Some of the world’s most accomplished jiu-jitsu players are set to descend on the UAE capital this week as the final round of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam World Jiu-Jitsu Tour of the season 2021-2022 takes place from May 6-8, 2022.

Taking place at Zayed Sports City’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena, the prestigious competition will feature Youth, Masters, and Professional categories, with all participants looking to improve their ranking and claim a share of cash prizes worth a total of US$225,000.

Men and women from various teams and academies from around the world will compete in the three-day event, which is open to local, regional, and international players. Following high demand, registration for the event organised by Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro and hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation closed on Tuesday, May 3.

Professionals round

Competition in the Youth division and Queen of Mats will take place on the opening day, followed by Masters and King of Mats on day two. The highly anticipated Professionals round is reserved for the final day.

Tariq Al Bahri, the AJP’s director-general, said, “This event demonstrates the UAE’s and Abu Dhabi’s remarkable accomplishment in hosting the world’s most prestigious championships. Considering the participation of elite stars in the regional and international arenas, it has again proven to be one of the most prominent jiu-jitsu competitions in the world. As the championship brings together the world’s top-ranked athletes, notably for the King of Mats and Queen of Mats events, the Jiu-Jitsu Arena will see high-calibre fights.”

Emirati world champion Omar Al Fadhli will be the first UAE national and indeed first Arab to compete in the King of Mats tournament when he competes this week as one of the event’s biggest draws. “Competing in King of Mats is every Emirati player’s dream,” he said. “This means facing the world’s strongest and toughest jiu-jitsu players, who are used to such an environment and have a lot of experience on the mat. I started preparing for this competition a long time ago. World jiu-jitsu legends will compete in this tournament, which will provide us with the best possible technical value as jiu-jitsu professionals. In terms of preparations, the players have to be at their physical and mental peaks.”

'Special feeling'

Zayed Al Kathiri, who is playing in the professional category, has previously participated and won the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. He returns looking not just to compete, but to replicate his previous feat. Winning in front of the UAE audience would be a special feeling, he said.

“My goals are not only to compete in the tournament but also to achieve a meaningful result that will help me develop my technical level and lead to greater accomplishments in the future, particularly when representing the UAE in the Asian Games in China,” Al Kathiri said.

Meanwhile, Balqis Al Hashemi, another participant taking part in the UAE capital, concluded: “We have a lot of things coming up and this tournament will serve as a great springboard for us to step up our preparations in order to reap success and prove that the UAE’s players are capable of reaching the very top of the rankings in a combat sport.”