Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Abu Dhabi World Pro 2019: Talib Al Kirbi looks on bright side after last fight ends in defeat

Emirati fighter, who will retire after event, goes down to Thiago Marques for fourth straight year in black belt 69kg final

Talib Al Kirbi’s swansong at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Masters Championship ended in defeat on Tuesday.

Al Kirbi, who is all set to retire from the martial art sport, went down to Thiago Marques for the fourth successive year in the black belt 69-kilogram Masters 1 final at Mubadala Arena.

“I wanted to go out on a high by winning a gold but it wasn’t destined for me,” the Emirati said after losing the final to Brazilian Marques by advantage points 2-1 after a 2-2 deadlock on points.

“It was very close fight, much closer than all our three previous meetings. I was even leading but just couldn’t convert it to my advantage towards the end."

Al Kirbi was disappointed, quite naturally, after having “trained very hard". But chose to look on the bright side.

"That’s how this martial arts sport is," he said. “I must say reaching the final was still a pretty good achievement. I’m going out with so many wonderful memories.”

The 36-year-old, who hopes to be involved in the sport "in a different capacity - perhaps a coach", has achieved much throughout his career. He won a silver medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year, and gold medals at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat 2017, as well as the Asian Beach Games in Thailand and Vietnam.

Marques paid tribute to Al Kirbi.

“Today, I felt for him, for spoiling his farewell,” the 35-year-old Brazilian said. “This is our fourth meeting in four years and we have come to know each other well, as friends off the mat.

“I knew the home fans wanted to give him a good send-off but this is a competition. I can only wish Talib well for his next adventure.”

It was Marques' sixth gold in eight appearances after winning silver on his World Pro debut in 2012. “I didn’t win any medal in 2014 but was successful from 2015 to 2019,” he said.

Paulo Pinto celebrates after beating Raphael Souza at Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at Mubadala Arena. Reem Mohammed / The National
Paulo Pinto celebrates after beating Raphael Souza at Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at Mubadala Arena. Reem Mohammed / The National

Meanwhile, last year's world champion Igor Silva clinched the black belt 110kg Masters 1 final against Briton Antonio Junior on the referee’s decision after a 0-0 deadlock.

The Brazilian, who is competing in the Masters for the first time, leads the world rankings in the category. But he will also compete in the 110kg division.

“My goal this season was to compete in the Masters and take the world title, and I have achieved that,” said Silva who turned 35 last week.

Paulo Pinto, the Abu Dhabi-based Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, won his fourth Masters gold and his first in the Masters 2 in the black belt 94kg.

“The level between Masters 1 and 2 is only marginal, and those who maintain a high level can also compete in the top flight, and that’s what most us fighters do,” Pinto, 37, said.

“The Masters gives competitors like us an opportunity to win and then also an opportunity to compete against the younger fighters. If one can challenge for the titles in both, so be it.”

The Brazilians won six of the seven golds in the Masters 1 back belt, with Juan Lopes da Silva of Portugal winning the seventh gold in the 56kg against Jorge dos Santos of Brazil.

Updated: April 23, 2019 09:12 PM

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