For the first time in Asia and the Middle East, the UAE is preparing to host the World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship which will take place this weekend.
To be held from March 2-4 at the Mubadala Arena, Abu Dhabi, the event will see more than 700 players from 40 countries.
The World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship is one of the key international events on the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s calendar. The competition is dominated by two categories: the Under-18’s and U-21’s with 51 players making up the UAE squad.
Panagiotis Theodoropoulos, president of the Jiu Jitsu International Federation, said: “This is one of the most important world sport championships. The future of any sport relies on its youth.
“Therefore, the JJIF values this Championship for its active role in raising awareness about the importance of Jiu-Jitsu and fostering its position on the international sports arena.
“The UAE’s hosting of this Championship is testament to its leading position and international capabilities within Jiu-Jitsu ability to organise local and international championships. We are confident in the UAE’s capacities to host this event in accordance with the highest global regulatory levels and standards, despite the large numbers of participants expected to arrive in such a short period of time.”
Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Thailand, Austria, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Iran, Ukraine, Hungary, Sweden, Morocco, Spain and Russia are among the nations that will be competing.
Abdulmunem Al Hashemi, chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, president of the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Union and senior vice president of Jiu-Jitsu International Federation, declared the nation is looking forward to welcoming Asia’s best.
He said: “Hosting this event in Abu Dhabi crowns a long journey of hard work and dedication, and it coincides with the Year of Zayed, which represents a great opportunity for the UAE to adhere to the noble values instilled by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan.
“The World Youth Championship will display all the hard work undertaken by the UAEJJF and its strategic partners in cooperation with the JJIF, to strengthen the country’s status as a global hub for hosting world sporting events.”
He added: “The hosting of this Championship in the UAE is a new breakthrough for the global sport, and is a proof of our position in supporting and enhancing the presence of this sport amongst the next generation.”
For Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, CEO of the UAEJJF, and secretary-general of the Asian and International Federations, he believes the championship being held in Abu Dhabi is proof that the sport is growing.
“The World Youth Championship is the newest international addition on Abu Dhabi’s calendar of Jiu-Jitsu events,” he said.
Absolute Championship Berkut rolled into the UAE last weekend wowing MMA fans in a first-rate event held at Dubai Sports City.
The Russian-based promotion promises fight quality over glitz and glamour on their cards and certainly backed that up in front of a near capacity crowd at The Dome.
The night’s main event saw Polish welterweight Aslambek Saidov overcome Brazil’s Roan Carneiro. Saidov dominated for long periods and now moves to 22-5, further enhancing his credentials in the division. Carneiro is a UFC veteran with notable wins over Rich Clementi and Mark Munoz, and is another notch on the belt of the Polish fighter.
In the co-main event of the evening, British fighter Luke Barnatt took the spoils thanks to a second-round stoppage of Maxim Futin.
It was ‘Big Slow’s’ first venture into the light-heavyweight category and it took him time to settle. Despite Barnatt having an eight-inch height advantage, Futin got on the inside at will in the first stanza, landing well especially with the overhand right. As the fight went on, former UFC man Barnatt started to find his range and connect. A flurry of punches and elbows eventually saw the referee stop the bout at 3.27 in round 2.
Post-fight, Barnatt spoke of his disappointment at his performance, but happiness to get the win under his belt.
The crowd in Dubai was vociferous throughout but even more so than when the card’s Afghan fighters were in action – and one was involved in the fight of the night.
Baz Mohammad Mubariz won via unanimous decision against Scotland’s Iain Feenan in the lightweight division.
Mulbariz got the best of the first round with an aggressive striking style and intense forward pressure which had the Scot on the back foot from early on. Feenan was dropped with a solid right hand but managed to recover from a barrage of shots from the top to see out the round. Feenan established himself in the second and damaged his opponent with some strong work on the feet and ground.
In the end it was Mubariz’s physicality and durability which won the third round and the nod from the judges. Elsewhere, Abdul-Rahman Dzhanaev pulled out a stunning finish in the final seconds of his clash with Brazilian, Leandro Silva.
The Russian looked certain to claim a decision win, but sunk in an armbar forcing a tap with less than 10 seconds of the fight remaining.
In an extensive card there were also wins for Islam Isaev, Ramazan Kuramagomedov, Francisco de Lima Maciel, Narek Avagyan, Josiel Silva, Ahmed Wali Hotak, Khusein Sheikhaev, and Shoaib Yousaf.
It is also two weeks after a public statement from the Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) saying the players would be paid within 10 to 14 days.
The Bati players are now refusing to play for Fiji again until they receive the overdue payments.
This puts in jeopardy plans for Fiji to play in a four-nation series in April.
The players confirmed on Friday they are still yet to be paid since making a statement on February 5 and captain Kevin Naiqama making a second public statement on February 7.
“Fiji Bati players have still not been paid semi final prize money from the RLWC 2017 after their quarter-final upset defeat of the NZ Kiwis and then RLWC 2017 semi-final exit to the Australian Kangaroos,” read the February 5 statement.
“The Fiji Bati players are now demanding to be paid and will stand down from playing another Test/ International in 2018.
“Fiji Bati players are also demanding a leadership overhaul of current Fiji National Rugby League board [for] their poor handling of RLWC campaign.”
The players also allege that between February 5 to 8 the FNRL promised “multiple times” to pay the players within two weeks.
“It is envisaged that within the next 10 to 14 days, the players will get their payment,” said Filimoni Vosaroga, the Chairman of the FNRL.
Responding to the failure to meet the payment deadline Naiqama said: “What we experienced was not good enough, and we’ve come to an agreement as a playing group that we will stand down from any Fiji Bati Tests until we get paid.”
“The players’ biggest gripe is over the late transfers of $35 allowances provided by the tournament that were believed to be topped up by the FNRL.”
Naiqama claimed the delayed payments lasted the entire campaign, and almost forced the squad to pull out of an appearance before the Fijian High Commission in Canberra.
It was only a last-ditch meeting with the Bati’s leadership group — involving NRL stars Jarryd Hayne, Akuila Uate and Api Koroisau — that prevented a possible revolt.
“That would’ve looked really bad,” Naiqama said.
But it is the failure to pass on the $125,000 prizemoney from reaching the semi-finals that was the final straw for the playing group, and Naiqama said the players’ demanded change.
“There was a contract we signed that has everything in black-and-white,” he said.
“They were happy to give us 100 per cent of the prizemoney and it’s something we have not received.
“We had countless meetings with (CEO) Timoci Naleba and (chairman) Filimoni Vosarogo which we thought went really well, but ended up as blatant lies.”
Naiqama said the group’s main concern was for the non-fulltime players, most based in Fiji, who urgently need the money for living expenses for them and their family.