Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s most promising young jiu-jitsuka Omar Al Fadhli stole the show at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship by clinching gold in the 62kg blue belt category at the Mubadala Arena on Thursday.
Al Fadhli defeated Brazilian Ricardo Conciecao in a keenly contested fight, 10-6 on points.
The gold also ensured Al Fadhli the UAEJJF World Championship title in blue belt with a grand total of 1,100 points — 60 more than his nearest rival, Brazilian Yago Olivera, who defeated UAE’s Abdullah Al Kubaisi to claim gold in the 94kg blue belt category.
1,100Points UAE’s Al Fadhli has, 60 more than his nearest rival, Brazilian Yago Olivera
“It is the best day of my life and I just feel amazing,” said a jubilant Al Fadhli, who was also awarded the purple belt soon after the award ceremony.
“To be the World Champion, the World No. 1, and to get the purple belt is special. I always believed that I could achieve it. Everyday when I woke up, I used to think about becoming a world champion. It is a dream come true.”
Fadhli, who last won gold at the World Pro in 2017 in the juvenile 65kg blue belt category, defeated five Emiratis — Ahmad Al Naqbi, Mohammad Ali Al Saadi, Hadi Al Hussaini and Mohammad Al Menhali — en route to the final.
The 18-year-old’s high performance coach Ribamar Santiago from UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, speaking about his ward’s next challenge said: “I want him to get more experience and take the best route to the black belt. When I mean experience, it is to develop his techniques and learn new stuff and complement his good job that he has done so far. The target is to be the black belt at a very high level in the world and represent UAE in the best possible way.”
There was more joy for fans with the face of UAE jiu-jitsu, Faisal Al Ketbi, looking to break his gold medal jinx in the 85kg black belt, storming into the finals for the third year in succession. Al Ketbi, who had to settle for silver twice before, will be taking on Brazil’s Rudson Mateus in the summit clash.
Al Ketbi, after getting a bye in the opening round, defeated United States’ Devhonte Johnson in the quarters 1-0 on advantage points before going on to tame the latter’s compatriot DJ Jackson in the semis 2-1 on advantage points.
Al Ketbi, the Jakarta Asian Games gold medallist, has won gold across all belts at the World Pro. However, ever since he became the first Emirati to become a black belt holder four years back, the gold at World Pro has eluded him.
2017Al Fadhli last won gold at the World Pro in the juvenile 65kg blue belt category
“Yes, I missed out on gold in the last four years in black belt but this is another challenge and another opportunity. Of course, the main goal is to win gold; present the UAE in the best way, fight and honour our flag,” Al Kebti had said ahead of the tournament and here he was again in line for gold. It is expected to be a cracker of a fight and the entire arena will be cheering him on.
The UAE’s Yahia Mansour Al Hammadi made to his first blackbelt 110kg category beating Belgian Paulo Brazil Da Silva on referees decision after being locked 0-0. Al Hammadi will be meeting cancer survivor Joao Rocha in the summit clash. Rocha defeated compatriot Ricardo Evangelista 2-0 on advantage points to make it to the finals.
“First time in the finals and I want to win the gold and make the people here in UAE happy,” said a beaming Al Hammadi.
Another gold for UAE was provided by Reem Abdullah in the female 49kg blue belt beating Nazgul Rakhayeva of Kazakhstan. However, there was disappointment for UAE’s Hamad Nawad, the Asian Games gold medallist who was shocked by compatriot Ali Al Ghaitthi by submission in the 56kg blue belt quarter-finals.