The last time Edwin Najmi competed at ACB JJ, he stunned fans with an incredible come-from-behind victory against Marcio Andre. It was a win that came just months after Najmi’s loss to Andre at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, and on September 9, if things work out just right in the 75-kg division of the ACB JJ Grand Prix 7 in Rio de Janeiro, the two grapplers will meet up once again in what would surely be an unforgettable match.
Najmi and Andre are on completely opposite sides of their bracket, so in order for them to complete their trilogy, they have to make a lot of things go right. But if they do meet up in the finals. Najmi is well aware that it’s not going to be an easy fight for either of them. “I think it’s going to be a war most likely, like all our other matches,” he says. “I’m looking forward to it; we had a battle at the last ACB, and [it] should be another exciting match if we cross paths.”
Aside from Andre, though, Najmi doesn’t have high hopes of going up against any other particular grapplers in his division — he’s just “excited” to be getting the chance to succeed in the no-gi scene once again. “I haven’t competed no-gi in a couple years, so it’s a new challenge for me. It’s way different than the gi. I’ve enjoyed learning to adapt to the new ruleset.”
After a result at Worlds that Najmi calls “disappointing,” a victory at ACB JJ would mean that much more to him. “I had a bad day,” he says of his performance at the World Championship. “But it happens in an individual sport, and I’m looking forward to bouncing back from that.” Given that he describes winning the ACB Grand Prix earlier this year (and defeating athletes like Andre and Michael Langhi in the process) as his greatest triumph of 2017 so far, though, it’s safe to say that taking home the win this time around would be a pretty high bounce.
Even someone with Najmi’s record and expertise couldn’t hope to coast through the 75-kg bracket at this ACB, though. With a lineup that includes 2015 ADCC champion Davi Ramos and 2010 European champion Rodrigo Caporal, every athlete vying for that Grand Prix title is going to have his work cut out for him. But with all the work and heart that Najmi has poured into earning the lightweight title, it’s unlikely that he’s going to give it up without putting someone through the fight of their life.
Anyone hoping to see Najmi in action after the Grand Prix is likely going to be out of luck for the rest of the year — he says that unless another ACB superfight opportunity comes up, he’s going to spend the remainder of 2017 preparing for the 2018 season. However, if September 9 does end up being the day he finishes up his competitive season for the year, he’s sure to go out with yet another unforgettable performance.