Emirati has won gold every year since 2013 and takes on Brazilian Athos Ferreira in the final
Khalifa Al Kaabi ready to put unbeaten record on the line in Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship blue belt final
Khalifa Al Kaabi is bidding to replicate last year’s success at the Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship when he meets Brazilian Athos Ferreira in Tuesday’s final at the Mubadala Arena.
The 17-year-old Emirati has come a long way since he first won a gold at the Abu Dhabi Festival as a yellow belt in 2013. He has won gold every year since; in the orange belt twice, in the green and in the blue - the highest a juvenile can reach - in the World Youths last year.
“I’m meeting Athos for the first time and I’m ready for him,” Al Kaabi said after his two impressive victories on Monday over Jacob Boodhoo of Canada and fellow Emirati Mohammed Al Mansoori, both by submission.
“At this level, you don’t expect anything to be easy. My two fights may have looked easy but it wasn’t. I had prepared well for this and caught both of them off-guard.”
Al Kaabi is the world No 1 in the blue belt juvenile and is undefeated in the past 12 months. Some of his notable victories imclude the Grand Slams in Los Angeles, London and Abu Dhabi, as well as at last month’s Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s World Championship for Aspirants and Juniors held Abu Dhabi.
Ferreira won his fight against Canadian Connor Hunter by submission but won the next over Serhii Krasavskiy of Ukraine on the referee’s verdict after a 1-1 deadlock.
In the semi-finals, the Brazilian rallied from 2-0 down on points to overcome Mongolian Jugdernmanjil Tsegmid with an arm-lock to set up a meeting with Al Kaabi.
“I have followed Khalifa’s fights and have 24 hours to prepare for him,” Ferreira said. “I know he’s very good but I’m ready for him. For me, all three fights were hard but I’m very happy to reach the final.
“It’s my first competition in Abu Dhabi and to reach the final is already an achievement. Let’s see if I can achieve something more on Tuesday.”
Maher Al Taher in the 94kg and Yahya Al Nuaimi in 46kg clinched gold for the UAE in the six finals in the blue belt on Monday.
Gabriel Costa, Myke Ohura and Jefferson Goteu won gold for Brazil while Noah Lim of Singapore in the 66kg took the remaining title in the blue belt finals.
Costa overcame Slovakian Samuel Carnogursky by submission in the 81kg final to make a winning bow in Abu Dhabi.
Carnogursky, 15, picked up jiu-jitsu after relocating to Dubai four years ago and was a winner in the yellow belt 75kg at the World Youths last year.
“I was practicing judo since I was nine but it wasn’t popular in Dubai and I couldn’t find any place to train, so I joined jiu-jitsu classes,” he said. “Still, it was a good result for me to take a silver home. I won two fights against two experienced opponents (Sultan Al Otaiba and Ivan Baranovskiy of Russia) but the final was very tough.”
Marlon Tajik, 15, retained his green belt 72kg title with victory over Emirati Saif Al Manoori by submission.
Having won back-to-back gold in Abu Dhabi and remaining undefeated over the past 12 months, Tajik said he will take a break from the sport to focus on his studies for the next two years.
“Studies are important for me,” he said when asked if he would be back next year to compete in a higher category. “I’ll be training just to keep myself in shape for the next two years because I want to continue competing once I complete my studies in computer engineering.
“Abu Dhabi is the only country I have travelled outside Europe for competitions. It’s not for me to comment on other competitions around the world but I love this place and most definitely it’s the one place I want to return for jiu-jitsu.”