Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

Gabrieli Pessanha crowned Queen of the Mats at jiu-jitsu Grand Slam Abu Dhabi

Brazilian world champion emerged undefeated from her four fights in the heavyweight competition

Gabrieli Pessanha's domination over her rivals continued as she was crowned the inaugural Queen of Mats at the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi.

The Brazilian world champion emerged undefeated from her four fights in the heavyweight competition for jiu-jitsu fighters at the Mubadala Arena on Friday.

Pessanha said the King of Mats, introduced in 2018, and now the Queen of Mats were unique concepts created by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

“Personally, I’m glad women in jiu-jitsu are receiving the same recognition as the men, and it obviously provides new incentives for us to pursue full time in the sport,” she said.

Pessanha, 19, faced fellow Brazilian Nathiely de Jesus, 23, in the final after they topped the two groups of three fighters.

De Jesus took an early 1-0 lead from the new scoring system that turns advantages and penalties into points. Pessanha countered it with a sweep for a 2-1 lead, which she held on until the end of the eight-minute final.

“I have won against all five of them in previous meetings and Nathi was the strongest of all,” Pessanha, who stretched her record over De Jesus to 4-0, said.

“The Queen of Mats was an important title for me because there was still a lot of people who doubted me.

“They said I was too young, only 19. Well, now I am the Queen. I want to thank God and all my family, friends and teammates for all the help. My journey in jiu-jitsu continues.”

Pessanha’s first opponent in the competition was another Brazilian Thamara Ferreira and she was surprisingly trailing 0-4 after two minutes before finding a guard pass and a mount to turn the score to 6-4.

She then overcame Swede Martina Gramenius by points 4-0 to reach the semi-finals from Group A. Ferreira joined her in the last four with victory over Gramenius.

De Jesus topped Group B with victories over Britain’s Samantha Cook and American Kendall Reusing.

In the semi-finals, Pessanha outclassed Reusing by points 11-0 and De Jesus took just over a minute to get the better of Ferreira. Ferreira scored twice from two sweeps to take the bronze from Reusing 4-2.

“Gabi is heavier and powerful, and she can block every movement of her opponents. Nevertheless, it was a good final,” conceded the Texas-based De Jesus.

“I moved to Texas two years ago and now run my own academy. I’m full time in the sport as a competitor and instructor, and enjoying my time on what I love to do most.

“I have been to Abu Dhabi a lot of times and won the World Pro (Abu Dhabi World Professional Championship) twice. The Queen of Mats is another unique idea to bring the best six women’s fighters in the world together.”

Meanwhile, Pessanha is preparing for a meeting with Gabrielle Garcia, 34, the four-time winner of the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship and IBJJF Hall of Famer, in the main Fight 2 win 136 in the United States on January 24.

“That’s a fight the entire jiu-jitsu world is looking forward to,” said Pessanha of the invitational event.

“For me, it is going to be my biggest challenge. Gabi Garcia has a massive reputation in the martial arts world.”

Updated: January 18, 2020 10:27 AM

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