x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The UAE fighter who had Sheikh Mohammed on the edge of his seat

Faisal Al Ketbi, the UAE team leader, wowed the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces with a memorable Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship victory in 2010. Audio interviews

Yahya Mansour Al Hammadi, right, is a two-time world champion (2009 and 2010) whose tactic is to get in early throws and move to holds.
Yahya Mansour Al Hammadi, right, is a two-time world champion (2009 and 2010) whose tactic is to get in early throws and move to holds.

The clock is ticking to the start of one of the most eagerly anticipated sporting tournaments staged in Abu Dhabi, the new capital of jiu-jutsu.

The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship gets underway tomorrow with the Kids World Cup and then the big boys get down to business over the weekend.

Supporters will be hoping the UAE team make up for last year's disappointment when they won just one gold medal through Abdullah Al Ketbi.

And the man who is expected to lead the team in putting the record straight is a fighter nicknamed "The Bull".

Faisal Al Ketbi is a master of wrestling and it is easy to distinguish his fighting style.

He is a two-time world champion, having taken the title in 2009 and 2010, and he also won a World Title Belt for his efforts in 2010, when he won the open weight division.

The 2010 tournament was the last I attended, as I was doing television commentary for that show. I vividly remember that Al Ketbi was involved in the most dramatic bout in the history of the championship, in my opinion, his fight against the Brazilian Celso Frabetti.

I could not help but notice Al Ketbi's aggression at the beginning of the fight, understandably due to the pressure of having Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, watching closely from mat side.

Knowing Al Ketbi's style of wrestling and incredible takedown attempts, I still worried when I saw him in the Brazilian's guard, given his tendency for being complacent at times.

The next four minutes were the longest four minutes for Al Ketbi and the crowd as he was caught in a potentially fight-ending triangle choke hold for what seemed like forever.

Even Sheikh Mohammed was on the edge of his seat waiting for Al Ketbi to survive and continue defending his lead.

I have never been so emotionally involved in a fight before, and this was so nerve-racking that when Al Ketbi finally escaped the hold, the place erupted.

This goes to show how well educated the crowd were when it comes to jiu-jitsu.

After the fight and the win, Al Ketbi joined me in the commentary and provided a quote that people will remember for a long time.

After being asked how close he was to tapping to the triangle choke, he said: "Are you kidding me? Tapping out and submitting in front of Sheikh Mohammed?

"Impossible."

Al Ketbi missed out on a gold medal at last year's tournament because of an injury he sustained before the final.

If it was not for that setback, many people believed he could have won for the third consecutive year.

The reason other UAE competitors did not make the top of the podium was mainly due to the promotion of most of the elite fighters to the dangerous and tricky world of purple belts after successful tenures at the blue belt level for the 2010 championship.

This year, the hopes are higher for the same group of fighters going on to take gold on Saturday night.

Mohammed Al Housani is a mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu commentator, and works for the Government of Abu Dhabi

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