Today’s festivities at the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro included a glimpse at some of the world’s future top black belt competitors. For now, though, they’re still “just” purple and blue belts.
Don’t let their rank fool you, though — these are some of the globe’s top athletes in their respective categories, and their level of skill is undeniable. And some of them aren’t even technically adults yet.
Take, for example, Art of Jiu-Jitsu’s Jessa Khan. She was on our list of purple belts to watch out for at this event, and she lived up to our (and her own) expectations. Khan is only seventeen years old, but after completely dominating the juvenile blue belt category, she’s now moving on to claim gold all over the place in the adult purple belt category. We caught up with her after her big win today:
Another purple belt who made it on our list and the top of the podium was Margot Ciccarelli, for whom this gold medal was her second in a row at the World Pro. Ciccarelli is a well-established force in her division and also won Worlds last year. She told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that she’s “really looking forward to fighting the brown/black belt division soon enough” in Abu Dhabi and mentioned that her lack of sleep had made her big win particularly challenging.
“To be honest, the only thing that was increasing was fatigue, and it wasn’t so much from the matches as my first three fights flew by for me, but I had been awake from 3 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was a tad worried it would bite me in the a*s later. So naturally, it got a bit tougher towards the finals. I haven’t competed since the Asian Open last year to give myself some time for a mental break and allow myself the full freedom of developing my game just in the aspect of the art itself, not even with regard to competition. So coming back as my first competition of the year, it feels good to test my skills again on a world stage.”
Yet another one of our picks, Fabricio Junior also made a big splash at his purple belt debut at the World Pro. He won the event as a blue belt last year, and this time around, the nineteen-year-old Alliance athlete blazed through five opponents on his way to a gold medal.
One of the most anticipated finals involved young Art of Jiu-Jitsu standout Tainan Dalpra. Dalpra has been collecting gold medals everywhere he goes, and at the end of last year, he made his true skill level known when he submitted black belt Bill Cooper at the Artista Invitational. Needless to say, it would’ve been a surprise if he hadn’t won gold at the World Pro, but his finals match against Reda Hamzaoui was still a blast to watch:
Here all are your purple belt winners for the day:
49kg – Jessa Khan
55kg – Annie Ramirez
62kg – Margot Ciccarelli
70kg – Larissa de Almeida
90kg – Katiuscia Yasmira Dias
56kg – Roiter Lima
62kg – Fabricio Junior
69kg – Ronaldo Estrada
77kg – Jansen Ramos
85kg – Tainan Dalpra
94kg – Eric Munis
110kg – Anderson Munis