x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ideal warm-up ahead of jiu-jitsu worlds for Rodolfo Vieira

Rodolfo Vieira made up for his earlier defeat in the 92kg weight category by claiming the absolute class ahead of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

ABU DHABI  // Rodolfo Vieira made up for his earlier defeat in the 92kg weight category by claiming the absolute class in yesterday's lead-up event for the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, which starts on Thursday.

The 21-year-old Brazilian was outclassed by the American Rafael Lovato Jr in the 92kg class but returned 30 minutes later to clinch the final event at the National Exhibition Centre and win the US$15,000 (Dh55,000) main prize from compatriot Rafael Mendes in the No-Gi, a competition in which fighters compete without the traditional kimono.

Vieira won the majority verdict from the three referees for his more aggressive tactics after a tie with Mendes, the winner at 65kg.

"I was very relieved to win the absolute title after the disappointment of losing my weight class," said Vieira, who was the winner of the 92kg category at the inaugural world championship in the capital in 2009. "I missed the title defence because of an injury but this time I have returned with the intentions of winning both my weight and the absolute class. The Abu Dhabi event has flown in the world's best and it leaves no room for any error.

"If you make a mistake, then you are finished, like what happened to me in my weight class. I have about five days to prepare for the main event and that's where my main focus is, although reaching two finals and winning one is a good result in this No-Gi competition."

Vieira was one of the first to qualify for the $1 million main event next weekend, in the first of the three trials staged in Brazil. Incidentally, it was Lovato whom he defeated en route to the gold medal two years ago.

"That's the first time I faced him in a competition and now it's 1-1, head-to-head," said Lovato, who came from behind to win by a 4-2 score. If we cross paths again, I will feel better after this win. Obviously, now I am looking forward for the big one over the weekend."

Lovato, 27, from Oklahoma, has the same goals as Vieira and strong credentials to match. He was the 2007 world champion and the 2010 No-Gi world champion.

apassela@thenational.ae