The 10th anniversary edition of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship kicked off this Tuesday, April 24, with the first installment of a new event designed to put the best grapplers in the world face to face for unprecedented prizes.
The King of Mats debuted in Abu Dhabi with 24 athletes divided in three weight classes. They competed within two groups in a round robin system that provided non-stop action for the crowd present at the Mubadala Arena as well as for viewers all over the world. Here's how each champion was crowned.
With 10 athletes fighting for the belt, the road for the top of the podium in the lightweight division was the longest of the three weight classes. On Group A, Leonardo Saggioro left no opponent standing on his way to the semifinals. He came out a winner of all four of his matches. He first beat Samuel Canquerino by points, then overcame Hiago George by referees decision in a close match. Saggioro's third match was another narrow victory over Isaque Paiva before closing the group stage with a fourth win over Jose Lima. Isaque Paiva, with three wins in four matches, also qualified for the semifinals. On Group B, Gianni Grippo, Celso Venícius and Thiago Marques finished the group stage with three wins and one loss. The point count after all the matches put Grippo and Marques in the semifinals as first and second in the bracket.
In a sweep battle, Gianni Grippo made it to the final in a hard-fought semifinal against Isaque Paiva that ended with a 8-6 lead for the American. On the other semifinal, Saggioro was able to make it to the gold medal match with a narrow 1-0 lead on advantages.
The King of Mats lightweight belt knew its first owner following a strategic match between Grippo and Saggioro. Both grapplers were very respectful of each other's games and the match ended in a 0-0 tie. The referees saw Saggioro as more active and granted him the win.
Group A had three competitors and each one won one match and lost another. The point count put Charles Negromonte in first place followed by Jaime Canuto, leaving Andre Galvão out of the semifinals. On Group B, Renato Canuto won all his three matches, beating Roberto Satoshi 2-0; finishing Clark Gracie and finally beating Tarsis Humphreys by WO. The second place finisher was Roberto Satoshi, who finished Tarsis Humphreys with a triangle and beat Clark Gracie 2-0.
The semifinals put Jaime Canuto to face Satoshi and Charles Negromonte to face Renato Canuto. Jaime built a 6-0 lead over Satoshi with two guard passes to reach the final. Negromonte held on to a 0-0 tie to beat Renato by referees decision.
The gold medal match was decided in the very last seconds, when a near guard pass by Negromonte earned him a 1-0 lead over Jaime Canuto and the right to wear the King of Mats middleweight belt.
With seven athletes competing for the belt, the division featured a series of thrilling matches. On group A, Alexander Trans won his two matches to reach the semifinals. He beat Tanner Rice 2-0 with a sweep and then Helton Junior with a 2-0 lead on advantages. American Tanner Rice joined Trans in the semifinals with a 1-0 win over Junior on advantages. On Group B, Roberto “Cyborg” sailed through the bracket with three wins in three matches. He beat Andre Campos by referees decision, then outscored Lucio Rodrigues before finishing Alexandre Souza from the mount. With two wins in three matches, Alexandre Souza also made it to the semifinals.
The first semifinal put Trans against Souza and a rib injury early in the match during a takedown defense put Alexandre out of commission and granted Trans a spot in the final. Cyborg made it to the gold medal match with a referees decision win over Tanner Rice following a 0-0 tie.
The heavyweight belt found its way to Alexander Trans hands when the Danish caught Cyborg's back to sink a bow and arrow choke and get the tap. The first heavyweight King of Mat was crowned.