Some of the best athletes in the world have spent the past few days in Abu Dhabi preparing for and competing in the UAEJJF World Pro. Among them are some of the top women in the sport, and so far, they’ve put on a serious show, leaving spectators yelling in surprise and cheering in support.
In less than a day, the female brown and black belt finals will take place and out of all the talented competitors at the event, only five will go home with a gold medal.
Here are the female athletes vying for the title of 2019 UAEJJF World Pro Champion:
49kg – Mayssa Bastos vs. Thamires Aquino
Bastos has been one of the black belt division’s greatest breakout stars, and it was practically a given that we’d see her in the finals. Despite a tough field of competitors, both she and Aquino both had a relatively easy trip to the final round. Although Bastos is a favorite to win gold here (especially since she won the World Pro last year when she was a brown belt), Aquino’s experience might give her the opportunity to capitalize on a rare mistake from her opponent.
55kg – Bianca Basilio vs. Amal Amjahid
Both of these competitors were champions at last year’s World Pro, and we can expect this to be a very, very close match this time around. Amjahid was just a brown belt when she took home the title last year and has since won Euros (for the third year in a row). Basilio, for her part, won the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam earlier this year. Fans were expecting for these two to meet in the finals, and now, all that remains is to see which one emerges victorious.
62kg – Beatriz Mesquita vs. Ffion Davies
In another collision of stars, new black belt Ffion Davies will go up against one of jiu-jitsu’s most decorated athletes. This time last year, Mesquita — an ADCC and multiple-time World Champion — would have the odds stacked almost entirely in her favor in this matchup. Davies, however, is on a tear and leaving a path of destruction in her wake since getting promoted at the end of last year. Mesquita’s record still makes her the favorite to win in this match, but Davies has developed a reputation for pulling out surprise wins on established athletes and should not be underestimated.
70kg – Thamara Silva vs. Alessandra Moss
The organization of this bracket meant that Silva and Moss have already faced each other in the main bracket of the World Pro this year, with Silva winning by points. Silva’s win against the formidable Samantha Cook (and a bronze medal at last year’s World Pro) further indicates that she may be most likely to win gold this year, though the multiple close matches in this bracket throughout the day indicate that the rematch between these competitors might be more tightly contested than their first meeting.
90kg – Claire-France Thevenon vs. Gabrieli Pessanha
Pessanha, an 18-year-old brown belt, pulled off one of the day’s big upsets when she narrowly took out Nathiely de Jesus. In addition to double-gold at Pans this year, Pessanha has been winning UAEJJF medals all over the place, and she’ll be hoping to add another gold medal to her collection tomorrow. To do so, however, she’ll have to defeat Thevenon, which is no easy task. Thevenon is now a black belt, but as a brown belt, she won Euros and placed third at Worlds. Still, given Pessanha’s record (and, again, the fact that she beat Nathiely de Jesus), we believe that this talented teenager will emerge victorious.