ABU DHABI // Fighters will be battling for a share of a US$1 million (Dh3.6m) prize fund at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Championship in April.
"We believe in getting the best fighters for the finals and they need to be rewarded adequately, thus the increase in the total prize money," Caio Siebel, the event supervisor, said at yesterday's launch at the Armed Forces Officers Club.
The total pot available to competitors has increased from $150,000 and organisers expect more than 500 entries, almost double the number who took part in the last staging of the event.
The finals will be in the capital from April 14 to 16 but prior to that there will be a series of trial tournaments throughout the world before the Abu Dhabi fight card is confirmed.
"The finalists from the trials held in 14 countries can win cash prizes as well as all-paid passages to the finals in Abu Dhabi," said Siebel.
"And those in the five and four-star trial categories will also receive prize monies.
"Those who don't make it into the finals or those who want to come straight into the finals will have to do so at their own expense.
"The fighters can participate in as many trials [as they want], beginning with the Korean event from November 14.
"We hope to complete the trials with the Bahrain event on April 2."
Fighters opting to enter directly into the finals will have to take part in preliminaries before the main competition.
The five-star trials, with a winner's cash prize of $4,000, will be held in Brazil, the United States, Britain, Australia, Portugal, Japan, Canada and Poland.
The four-star trials, with a winner's purse of $1,500, will be in New Zealand and South Africa, and the three-star events will be staged in South Korea, China, Jordan and Bahrain.
"This championship is another fast-establishing world event on a growing list in Abu Dhabi and is well received by the country's youth," said Ibrahim al Mahmoud, the general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
The UAE have produced three world champions - Mohammed al Qubaisi (purple belt), Faisal al Ketbi (purple) and Saeed al Hammadi (white) - and they will be in action along with a host of other fighters in the different weight and ranking categories.
According to Mohammed Jassim, a member of the Emirates Jiu Jitsu Society, the sport has grown remarkably in a short period of time.
"Jiu jitsu was included in the school curriculum five years ago and now we have more than 22,000 students and 63 training centres in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain," he said. "It is open for both, men and women, Emiratis and expatriates of all ages.
"The championship in the last two years was staged at the International Tennis Stadium at the Zayed Sports City but we plan to move this to a purpose-built area with a seating capacity of around 10,000."
The Emirates Jiu Jitsu Society will oversee the trials and conduct the finals in Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi event was first staged in 2009 for a purse of $111,000 and 12 months later it is established as one of the most popular events in the capital.
Claudio Calazans, the Brazilian double gold medallist, is expected to return to defend his title in the absolute class and the 83kgs weight division.
"We expect the winners from all weight categories for both, men and women, to return for their title defences," Siebel added.
"Of course they will have to raise the bar even more because of the high competition and the bigger cash bonanza."
Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship: Round 2, Friday, doors 5pm. Hall 5, Adnec, Abu Dhabi, tickets Dh250-Dh1,600, 800 4669, www.adfc.ae