The adult colored belt competitors will put it all on the line in just a few days at the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro. As we look at the rising stars of the event, some of the most promising athletes are those who have proven themselves at the lower- and mid-level ranks and will be looking to make a big impression with their performances at this year’s event.
In no particular order, here are five purple belts you should keep an eye on at this year’s World Pro:
5. Jessa Khan (49kg)
Khan is still a teenager and only four months into her purple belt career, but it would be a mistake to underestimate her at this year’s World Pro. The Art of Jiu-Jitsu athlete was selected to compete at EBI 18 (and won her first match) and was an absolute force when she competed in the juvenile blue belt divisions, winning Worlds, No-Gi Worlds, and Pans each three times. But if you think that was just child’s play, think again — Khan’s experience in the adult purple belt division has already resulted in many gold medals, including wins at Pans and Euros (which was her first competition in the adult purple belt division). We only have to wait a couple more days to find out if she’ll continue her winning streak at the World Pro.
4. Erich Munis (94kg)
Novo Uniao’s Munis has proven himself to be a dominating force in the purple belt division, winning both the heavyweight and open weight division at Pans and Euros earlier this year. With gold medals from two Rio de Janeiro Grand Slams and last year’s World Pro already claimed, Munis will be looking to keep his UAEJJF losses at a firm zero when he takes to the mats this week.
3. Sebastian Rodriguez (77kg)
Originally from Costa Rica, Rodriguez now trains out of Unity BJJ in New York. He’s a regular at the top of the podium for IBJJF Opens and UAEJJF National Pro events, and at last year’s No-Gi Pans, he won both the middleweight and open weight divisions. Having earned bronze at both 2018 Worlds and 2019 Pans, Rodriguez will be looking to add a World Pro medal to his extensive collection of hardware.
2. Fabricio Andrey Batista Junior (62kg)
This nineteen-year-old Alliance athlete is a very promising up-and-comer for the team. As a blue belt, he won just about everything he touched (including Worlds and last year’s UAEJJF World Pro), and as a purple belt, he’s already had his fair share of success. He won the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam in November of last year, and he kicked 2019 off to a great start by winning Pans. He currently has 22 wins and zero losses within the UAEJJF, and this week, we’ll see if he can continue his undefeated streak.
1. Margot Ciccarelli (62kg)
Another Unity athlete, Margot Ciccarelli is very, very accustomed to winning gold. She was on our list of female purple belts to watch out for at Worlds last year, and, sure enough, she won Worlds last year. She’s also won Euros three times, and given that she won gold at the World Pro last year (and later the Tokyo Grand Slam), the odds are in her favor for a repeat performance.