Well, he did it. João Gabriel Rocha has achieved his mission in Abu Dhabi by becoming the 110kg UAEJJF World Pro Champion. The achievement adds another huge victory for Rocha in what has been a whirlwind year so far. First, he finally defeated Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida in a BJJ Stars superfight. Then, he got the incredible news that he was cancer-free for the first time in five years. He arrived in the UAE backed by the momentum of his victories in both his jiu-jitsu and his health, and thus began the long road to the top of the podium.
First, Rocha had to win three matches just to qualify for the main 110kg bracket. So he did. Then, he had to win three more matches to make it to the final. So he did. Then, earlier today, he stepped onto the lone stage in the Mubadala Arena to face the UAE’s own Yahia Al Hammadi, knowing that in order to win gold, he’d have to give his opponent everything in him.
So he did.
Rocha won the match with a choke from the back, smiling from ear to ear as he bowed to the cheering crowd. It was the first time in five years he’d stand cancer-free on top of the podium.
With his medal around his neck and belt slung over his shoulder, an elated Rocha talked with the Jiu-Jitsu Times right after his big win:
Watch Rocha and Al Hammadi’s finals match below: