ABU DHABI // A 10-fight Mixed Martial Arts card and the season-ending World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (WPJJC) will be the headline events of the new UAE jiu-jitsu season, organisers have announced.
Fourteen fighters, including the Latvian kick-boxing sensation Konstantin Gluhov, and the Cuban-born Brazilian Muay Thai specialist Jose "Pele" Landi-Jons, have already been confirmed for the MMA event, dubbed as the Abu Dhabi Warriors Fighting Championship, on November 2 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
"The fight card is drawn by the MMA matchmakers according to their styles and records to match them as close as possible," Lubomit Guedjev, the technical director of UAE Jiu-Jitsu, said yesterday at a press conference at Emirates Palace hotel.
"MMA is one of the fastest growing martial arts events in the world. It originated from jiu-jitsu and hence it has been included as a new addition to bring more variety to our schedule."
Gluhov, 32, popularly known as Lacplesis (Bear Slayer in his native Latvia) is pitted against the Croatian judoka Maro Perak in the heavyweight division.
Perak, 29, boasts a 21-3-1 record, including a recent victory over Bob "The Beast" Sapp, who appeared on the card at the Dubai International Boxing Championship in February.
Landi-Jons, whose previous bouts include fights against UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes, will face Jevgeniy Mahteenko of Ukraine in a welterweight contest.
The WPJJC, first held in Abu Dhabi 2009, has become the most popular and richest jiu-jitsu event in the world.
"We have had great success and this event has grown remarkably well in a very short time," Mohammed bin Taloub Al Derei, the president of the UAE Wrestling, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Kick-Boxing Federation, said.
"This year we have increased the number of qualification trials for the WPJJC over the continents and expect 253 to qualify from them for the finals in Abu Dhabi in April."
The first of the 28 qualification trials start in Natal, Brazil, on September 15 and 16 followed by Leon Guanakuato, Mexico, on September 22, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, a week later.
The trials will also be staged across the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa before the finals at the exhibition centre from April 11 to 13.
The WPJJC gave away US$1 million (Dh3.6m) in total prize money last year with the winner of the open division walking away with $35,000, the biggest purse for a professional jiu-jitsu fighter last year.
Lifei Vali, the event director of the UAE Jiu Jitsu, said those who qualify from the trials will have all travelling expenses covered.
"We also hope to attract more entries for the juniors and have also added a new category for the brown belt to provide more opportunities for Emiratis and participants from other Gulf countries," he said.
"When we first started in 2009, we had five trials. It increased to 11 in the following year, then to 19 and 22. This year has swelled to 28. The Abu Dhabi event is well advertised and it is an event the cream of the fighters wants to be at.
"We hope that every year we will be able to improve this event from all aspects and we will keep the image of Abu Dhabi as the international capital of jiu-jitsu."
While the qualification trials take place, the UAE will stage its own championships, beginning with the Arab Open Cup from September 21 to 23.
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MMA fight card
Heavyweight Konstantin Gluhov (Latvia) - kickboxing 117kg v Maro Perak (Croatia) - judo 100kg.
Welterweight Jose "Pele" Landi-Jons (Brazil) - Muay Thai 77kg v Jevgeniy Mahteenko (Ukraine) - Muay Thai 77kg
Lightweight Kurt Kinser (USA) - Wrestling 70kg v Amir Visalimov (Austria) - Wrestling 77kg
Lightweight Leonardo Santos (Brazil) - BJJ 70kg v Vadim Khaitulov (Ukraine) - MMA 70kg
Middleweight Kaleb Dysert-John (USA) - MMA 84kg v Benjamin Brinsa (Germany) - MMA 84kg
Light Heavyweight Marcin Elsner (Poland) - MMA 93kg v Mikhail Zayats (Russia) Combat Sambo 93kg
Light Heavyweight Mihail Cazacu (Moldova) - MMA 70kg v Nilson Lopes (Brazil) - MMA 70kg
The UAE championship schedule at ADNEC
September 21-23: Arab Open Cup
October 18-20: Asia Open
November 2: MMA Abu Dhabi Warriors Fighting Championship
December 6-8: Emirates Super Cup
January 24, 2013: 26: Gulf Cup
February 21, 2013: 23: Abu Dhabi Cup
April 11-13, 2013: World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship