Mackenzie Dern makes early exit from absolute class at Abu Dhabi World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship
ABU DHABI // New champions in the absolute belt will be ushered in at the 2016 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship after the men’s champion Marcus Almeida was a late withdrawal and Mackenzie Dern crashed out from the women’s event.
Almeida, the three-time champion, returning for his first competition in 12 months, opted out from the open weight at the advice of his coach to concentrate in his black belt 94-kilogram weight that gets under way Friday.
Dern, who was such a sensation when winning the title on her first appearance in the competition 12 months ago, went down to Brazilian Tayane Araujo 5-2 on points in the third round in the black belt open weight Thursday at the Ipic Arena.
Read more on Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship:
“She [Araujo] was huge and I turned my back and got hooked,” Dern said. “I still think I fought good. I made some mistakes but that’s normal.”
It was Dern’s first defeat since her famous win over Gabrielle Garcia, the nine-time world champion, in the semi-finals of the World Pro en route to winning the absolute belt from Vanessa Nascimento.
“There will be a new winner in the absolute belt this year but for sure I will come back next year,” the American said. “Now I will focus on my weight class.
“That one I really want to win. I had a great time last year and enjoyed my time this year, too.”
Dern won her opening fight quite convincingly but had to draw all her experience and energy to rally from 4-2 down to win by an advantage point over Brazilian Nathiely Jesus.
“That fight was really close,” Dern said. “I never fought either of the girls before. This is the first time but the same like before, I tried the arm bar, tried to get the back and always tried to submit.
“But sometimes in this sport you have to play smart like the points and the time. Six minutes flies very fast.”
In the quarter-finals, Dern fell 5-0 behind on points but clawed back with a two-pointer and that was as close she got.
“She was playing strategically. Maybe 30 seconds were left and she was waiting to sweep. Then I had to play smart I had to take her down or get two points,” Dern said.
“I think the bracket was very tough for me I think on my side there were tough girls, big girls for me and I am the smallest. At the bottom side of the bracket I think there were little lighter girls. But to be the winner you have to beat anyone.”
If Dern was disappointed, it did not show on her face or reactions.
“Honestly, she should beat me,” she said when asked if she was disappointed. “Her size is so big and she knows the same arm bar and the same choke I know. She is as tough as me.”
Faisal Al Ketbi, the local fan favourite, made a second-round exit. He trailed 10-0 before a submission choke by American Keenan Cornelious. The Emirati won his opening fight against Brazilian Thiago Pessoa.
Jose Junior moved to the semi-finals after extending his record to 3-2 over Ricardo Evangelista, who has won gold medals at the Grand Slams in Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro and London.
The Brazilians are employed as jiu-jitsu instructors in Abu Dhabi and their recent meetings have sparked a fierce rivalry in the domestic competitions.
Today, the action shifts to the weight divisions in blue, purple, brown and black belts for both men and women.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport
Updated: April 21, 2016 04:00 AM