Abu Dhabi World Pro 2019: Faisal Al Ketbi one win away from 'dream' gold
The 31-year-old Emirati has been runner-up for the past two years but is hoping for third time lucky when he meets Brazilian Rudson Mateus Teles in the 85kg final
Faisal Al Ketbi is one fight away from winning his first gold medal at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
The 31-year-old Emirati has been runner-up for the past two years but is hoping for third time lucky when he meets Brazilian Rudson Mateus Teles in the 85-kilogram final at the Mubadala Arena on Friday.
“To win gold in the black belt has always been my goal,” said Al Ketbi, who has been attempting to land the World Pro title since 2015.
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“I have achieved the first step, which was to reach the final, and now go all out to win it, hopefully. I have prepared well as always and here is another opportunity for me to fulfill another dream.”
Al Ketbi drew a first round bye before edging out Americans Devhonte Johnson and DJ Jackson, both by advantage points 1-0 and 2-1, respectively, for a final meeting with Teles, who at 23 is eight year's younger than Al Ketbi.
Teles has a 10-win and six-loss record for the season that includes a gold in the Grand Slam Tokyo and two silvers in the Grand Slams in Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi.
He defeated Briton David Willis by submission and Australian William Dias on the referee’s verdict after a 0-0 deadlock on points.
Joining Al Ketbi in earning his place in a final was teammate Yahia Mansoor Al Hammadi, who reached his first final since achieving black belt two years ago.
Al Hammadi overcame Walter Dos Santos of Angola and Belgian Paulo da Silva, both on the referee’s decisions after being tied on points in the 110kg weight.
He meets Brazilian Joao Rocha, who returned to Abu Dhabi six years after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“To reach the first final in the black belt is already and achievement," Al Hammadi said. "Now I’ll go out there tomorrow and give my best shot to try and win gold.”
For Rocha, it has been an amazing return to Abu Dhabi after his only previous appearance at the World Pro was in the brown belt in 2013.
“I feel a bit tired because I had to go through the most number of fights than anyone else,” said the 26-year-old Brazilian after going through seven fights in three days.
“I had to go through the Brazilian qualifier and then the main bracket to reach the final. As a big man I need a lot of time to recover, but I’m ready for the final.”
Brazilian Gabriel de Sousa and Adam Wardzinski of Poland remain in the race for the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s (UAEJJF) World Championship title in the black belt.
Victory for De Sousa in the 62kg final will grant him the world title but defeat would give Wardzinski an opportunity to become the world champion, provided he wins the 94kg final.
It’s a similar situation in the women’s world title race, with 18-year-old Brazilian Gabreili Passanha, who is in the 90kg final, holding a narrow lead over compatriot Mayssa Bastos - competing in the 49kg.
Meanwhile, the host nation bagged two of the 31 gold medals on offer on the first of two days of the World Pro.
Omar Al Fadhli won the blue belt 62kg and Reem Abdulla won the blue belt 49kg final. They also took eight silvers and a bronze.
Updated: April 25, 2019 09:27 PM