ABU DHABI // Luanna Alzuguir is on course to complete a hat-trick of titles at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
The 26-year-old Brazilian overcame Shioda Saraya of Japan on points in the women's 66kg weight division to earn a final showdown against compatriot Luiza Monteiro on Saturday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
"It's becoming tougher every year in Abu Dhabi," Alzuguir said. "This time I see more fighters and more weight divisions, and a long wait for the fights. But I am enjoying my time and happy to reach the final in my weight division."
Rodolfo Vieira, the winner last year of both the 92kg and absolute class, was also on the path to retain his titles.
The 22 year old faces another Brazilian, Roberto Alencar, in his weight-division final.
Vieira has a special place in his heart for Abu Dhabi, which he says, put him on the path to jiu-jitsu glory.
He won the qualifying trial when he defeated some of his more illustrious rivals though he was still a brown belt, and then won his weight division in his first appearance in 2009, but had to miss out on defending his title because of injury.
"I still travelled to Abu Dhabi to watch the championship," he said. "Then I came last year to win both the weight category and the open division, which is one of the best moments of my career so far."
Vieira has put the Abu Dhabi championship ahead of the others in terms of the quality as well as the prize money.
"It is difficult to compare the Abu Dhabi event with the others because this competition is so far ahead," he said.
"It is so well organised, [from] the whole atmosphere and experience, you cannot compare with the others.
"I think it is really improved and much, much better than the previous years.
"This will certainly get better and better."
The two-day championship for a total purse of Dh3.5 million drew more than 500 fighters from 48 countries, including both men and women.
The Emirati fighters had their share of the limelight with two Emirati women, Shamsa Hassan and Najla Mohammed, meeting each other in the 54kg final for white belt, and Faisal Al Ketbi and Mohammed Nasser Al Qubaisi advancing to the semi-finals in the purple belt.
Disappointment arrived in the form of the second-round exits of Hassan Al Rumaithi and Yahya Mansour Al Hammadi, the two Emirati fighters who were fancied to be in the medal rounds.
"You have to be at your best to win in this competition in any category," said Al Ketbi, who will take part in the 100kg semi-finals today.
"The Emirati fighters have done extremely well, whether in victory or defeat.
"There is a lot more quality in this year's championship because almost all the fighters have come through a qualification process."
The Abu Dhabi Championship staged 24 qualification trials in Europe, North and South America and Asia for fighters to earn all paid trips to the capital city.
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