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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Igor Silva expects duel to top rankings with Adam Wardzinski to go to the wire after victory at Grand Slam Abu Dhabi

The jiu-jitsu instructor was triumphant in the 110kg final against Mauricio Lima at the Mubadala Arena.

Igor Silva, right, triumphed over Mauricio Lima in the 110kg division at Grand Slam Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National
Igor Silva, right, triumphed over Mauricio Lima in the 110kg division at Grand Slam Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National

Abu Dhabi is proving to be a home for jiu-jitsu fighters reviving their careers on the world stage.

The Abu Dhabi-based Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor Jose Junior returned from semi-retirement to become the World No 1 last season and his compatriot Igor Silva is now following on a similar path.

Igor, who moved to Abu Dhabi four years ago as an instructor, consolidated his lead in the world rankings after victory over Mauricio Lima in the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi 110kg final at the Mubadala Arena on Saturday.

Igor’s victory earned him 200 world ranking points and take his tally to 1,280, 200 more than his closest challenger Adam Wardzinski of Poland, who went down to another Brazilian Helton Silva Junior in the 94kg final.

“The race for the World No.1 spot is going to go to the wire as we both (Wardzinski) plan to compete in most of the ranking events,” said Igor.

“Like is the previous season, I think the World No 1 will be decided at the season-ending Abu Dhabi World Professional Championship.”

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Igor won by two advantage points over Lima after a 2-2 deadlock in the final black belt division fight in the two-day competition that had a total prize fund of US$190,000 (Dh697,700) and 147 gold medals up for grabs.

The men’s seven black belt divisions were once again dominated by the Brazilians but in the women’s event saw Briton Samantha Cook and Charlotte von Baumgarten of Germany break the South American domination.

Cook won the black belt 90kg final from Brazilian Thamara Silva by submission and Von Baumgarten edged out another Brazilian Nadia Melo on advantage points after a scoreless deadlock.

Among the Emirati’s, Omar Al Fadhli bagged his seventh gold for the season in as many competitions.

Al Fadhli, 17, overcame Brazil’s Giovanny do Nascimento in the final on points 4-0 in the adult blue belt 62kg final.

“It was very tough but good result for me,” said Al Fadhli. “The Grand Slam London in March and the Abu Dhabi World Pro in April are the next big objectives for me.

"There are a few local competitions in-between and I’ll take my coach’s advice in competing on those.”

Wadima Al Yafei suffered a semi-final defeat to compatriot Sharifa Al Naamani, the eventual winner of the adult blue belt 49kg.

The Al Hanaei sisters took home two golds with Mahra, 16, claiming the juvenile blue belt 57kg final from Reem Al Mehairbi and her younger sister Hana, 14, successful in the junior yellow belt 44kg.

Maha, 18, making her debut in the adult purple belt and competing in a heavier 70kg category could not join her younger siblings on a podium finish.

“It was very hard for Maha but she’s a part of our success and will celebrate the medals we won for the family,” said Mahra, a member if the UAE women’s national team, after grabbing her third Grand Slam gold following earlier successes in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.