x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Rodolfo Vieira vows to return after impressive Jiu-Jitsu title haul

The 21-year-old Brazilians leaves the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Abu Dhabi US$50,000 rich after winning three titles.

Abdullah Hamed al Ketbi, of UAE, has a grip on the Philippines' Noel Eric Ang at the jiu-jitsu championships yesterday.
Abdullah Hamed al Ketbi, of UAE, has a grip on the Philippines' Noel Eric Ang at the jiu-jitsu championships yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Rodolfo Vieira will return home to Brazil more than US$50,000 richer and with three championship titles from the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships.

The 21-year-old completed a double in yesterday's main competition against compatriots Bruno Cruz, in the 92kg weight division, and Rubens Charles, in the open division, at the National Exhibition Centre in the capital.

He outclassed Cruz in a 15-0 unanimous points decision and returned an hour later to complete the double with a choke-lock on Charles to win the competition's top prize of $30,000 (Dh110,200).

He earlier had claimed the $15,000 cheque for the No-Gi absolute class in a lead-up event of the Abu Dhabi championship last weekend.

"I was pretty confident when I arrived here to win both, the No-Gi and the Gi titles," Vieira said. "I am not done yet. I am hungry for more and plan to be at the world championship in Los Angeles in June."

Vieira arrived in the capital city having won in his weight class and in the absolute class in last month's Pan American championships in California.

"It has been a fantastic two months for me to win back-to-back gold medals in my weight and the open class," said Vieira, who was the winner of the 92kg weight at the inaugural Abu Dhabi event in 2009.

"I had to give my title defence a miss because of an injury," he said. "But I came back as a stronger fighter. One year is a long time and, barring any injuries, I will be definitely back to defend my titles in Abu Dhabi."

Abdullah Hamed al Ketbi won the solitary gold medal for the host nation in over-35 competition for the white and blue belt over 80kg. He edged Noel Ang of the Philippines by a 3-1 score.

Faisal al Ketbi, the gold-medallist in the purple belt over 92kg last year, settled for a bronze, along with his compatriot Yahia Mansoor who also lost in the semi-finals.

It was a big day for the Brazilians. The world champion Gabrielle Garcia outclassed Penny Thomas, of South Africa, in the women's 63kg-and-over weight division.

"I felt like I was hit by a bus," Thomas said. "She was over me for almost the entire fight and I just couldn't get out of her grips. She is stronger and heavier and the only way I could avoid meeting her again is to go on a rigorous diet to compete in a lighter class.

"In terms of the competition, it is one of the few events that support the athletes with the prize monies. It makes everyone happy and obviously it brings the best fighters from around the world."

Garcia won the Abu Dhabi title for the second time.

apassela@thenational.ae