Jiu-jitsu will return to Dubai Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: The UAE’s top jiu-jitsu fighters and clubs will return to the mats in force at the first rounds of the Mother of Nation (MON) and the Vice President’s Jiu-Jitsu leagues scheduled to be held at Al Nasr Club, Dubai this weekend (January 15-16).

Heralding the start of the 2021 domestic season of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF), the MON Jiu-Jitsu League is the premier tournament for female jiu-jitsu fighters in the UAE while the Vice President’s Jiu-Jitsu League is one of the most respected tournaments for male fighters domestically.

Both tournaments will be contested over five rounds, instead of the earlier three, and will allow athletes to compete in three categories — Under-16, Under-18, and Adults.

While athletes will represent their clubs in the tournament, their results on the mat will see them earn points that contribute to individual rankings in addition to their team standings.

Mubarak Al Menhali, Technical Director, UAEJJF, said that the extended nature of the tournament and the chance to collect valuable ranking points, both individual and for clubs, would ensure high-quality action and also serve as effective preparation for upcoming international tournaments.

“Our main objective behind increasing the competition rounds has been to provide our fighters with as many opportunities to face top-quality fighters and to improve their skills. The MON and Vice President’s Jiu-Jitsu Leagues will help fighters top up their preparation for the showpiece Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (ADWPJJC) scheduled for the end of February and will also allow the coaching staff of the national team to effectively analyse and assess the level of fighters as they prepare for what will be a busy season,” Menhali said.

The 2019-2020 edition of the tournament had seen Al Wahda Jiu-Jitsu Club bag the coveted title with Al Ain and Al Dhafra finishing second and third, respectively. Fatema Al Muhairi was a key cog in Al Wahda’s march to the title in the previous season, and the fighter who competes in the 70kg category, said that she was motivated to continue her efforts to maintain her club’s position at the top.

“This tournament is a very special one. Everyone is keen to do well on this stage which automatically increases the quality of action on the mat. We have had a very good 2019-2020 season, and we want to carry the momentum into the new season. We have been training hard, working on areas that our coaches have identified, and we hope to start off well on January 15,” she said.

For Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club’s Hamad Al Nuaimi, one of the breakthrough stars of the previous season who played a leading role in Al Ain’s march to the Vice President Jiu-Jitsu League’s title, a strong performance in the first round will set the tone for a season where the 23-year-old fighting in the 110kg category is hoping to cement his reputation as one of the UAE’s most impressive fighters. The blue belt holder said he was excited to get back to competing after a stop-start 2019-2020 season.

“Last year, we started off very strong in the tournament and always maintained our grip at the top. Our plan this year is pretty similar, and we are really motivated to keep this trophy in Al Ain. Over the last couple of months, we have trained a lot but have not had the feel of competitive bouts. Doing well in this tournament will give me a lot of confidence and will also allow me to go up against fighters from different countries which will serve as the perfect preparation heading into the ADWPJJC and other international competitions,” he said.