She left the mat in tears following her defeat but Ffion Davies says she’s proud of her efforts on her Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship debut.
The 23-year-old Brit was beaten by Brazil’s Bianca Basilio via the referee’s decision after it was tied 2-2 in a closely-fought 62kg brown-black final at the Mubadala Arena.
Davies could have clinched her elusive gold after winning two points before it was withdrawn via video replay. But she had no complaints and will fly back to Wales with plenty of positives.
“I thought I won the two points but it’s fine,” she said. “I’m a little bit disappointed to not have won gold but winning and losing is part of sport. I’m just happy to have reached the final on my first visit in Abu Dhabi.”
“Overall, it was a good experience and great learning curve. The fights were really hard and I had to be on top of my game but happy to win silver,” added Davies, who defeated 10th-ranked Charlotte Van Baumgarten in Friday’s semi-final.
Hailing from Cardiff in Wales, jiu-jitsu might not be one of the popular sports, but she says it is growing gradually. “The sport is definitely growing in the UK a lot. I’m from Wales so it’s not as big there but it’s growing in small steps.
“I work part-time on weekends so jiu-jitsu is what I do during the week. It means I can put in a lot of training for five days which suits me and helps with my development.”
Ana Carolina is making it a habit of winning gold at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
At just 24, she has already won three golds in four years (2013, 2014 and 2017) and added yet another to her collection in the brown/belt 70kg final at the Mubadala Arena.
Up against Jessica Swanson, the Brazilian showed her class with an impressive 9-0 win. She immediately set her sights on winning the World Championship in California in June.
“This was good preparation for me for that tournament,” said Carolina. “Although it was a 9-0 win, it wasn’t easy by any means. Every fight that I compete in is important and now I want to go and continue my good form in California.”
Meanwhile, Angelica Galvao weighs just 65kg, but the American showed it’s agility and skill that matters on the mat as she retired from jiu-jitsu in style with 90kg gold in brown-black division.
The 32-year-old was making her second appearance at the event, six years after winning gold in purple/brown way back in 2012.
Before making the long trip from the US, she already decided that the UAE competition would be last event in her 14-year career and she bowed out on a high. Despite her opponent Poland’s Marta Szarecka being heavier, she won in convincing fashion 8-2.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Galvao. “She was a lot heavier than me and I could only think about myself and executing the moves. I didn’t worry much about her skills and wanted to put my game first. For sure, this is one of my best accomplishments so far as this is my first gold in black in Gi.”
She added: “I’m 32 now so I knew my days in jiu-jitsu were coming to an end so I wanted it to give it a go. I just wanted to do something that I hadn’t done before and happy to have won gold.”
Meanwhile, there was a major upset when brown belt competitor Amal Amjahid overcame black belt’s Amanda Monteiro by submission in the 55kg final.
Belgium’s Amjahid was thrilled with her win and said self-belief was key to her success.
“It is always going to be hard against black belt fighters but I never lost hope,” she said. “I knew if I stuck to my game, I could win and that’s what I did.”
After unsuccessful attempts in 2016 and 2017, Al Ketbi went into the 85kg final hoping to make it third time lucky on his home patch.
Brazil’s Isaque Braz stood in his way at the Mubadala Arena but despite a spirited display in front of a vocal home support, the UAE top-ranked fighter fell short in his quest, losing 2-0.
Al Ketbi did not speak to the media but Braz was thrilled to have won his third gold in the capital after triumphing in blue and brown belts in previous years.
“For me it was a normal victory,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t feel any pressure against a home favourite because every day I train and compete with world champions so the fight against Faisal Al Ketbi was just another match for me.
“It was a hard match because he is a great competitor but I’m happy to win gold here.”
There was more UAE disappointment as Talib Saleh lost to Brazilian Thiago Marques in the Black Masters 1.
The South Americans showed their dominance on the mat, winning five of the six men’s matches.
Felipe Pena, who had won four golds in Abu Dhabi, made it five as he came out on top against Poland’s Adam Wardzinski. Pena, winner of the Open category in 2016, used all his experience to claim a convincing 4-0 win in the black 94kg final.
“Winning gold was one of my objectives before I came to Abu Dhabi,” said Pena, who won all his seven matches. “I felt really good coming into the tournament because of the way that I trained at home. This is the World Pro and there are no easy matches in the competition.”
His compatriot Erberth Santos added to Brazil’s tally, needing just 62 seconds to defeat Lucio Rodrigues of Great Britain in the 110kg final.
“I’m very happy to win this title because it’s one of the best in the world,” said Santos, who last year was beaten in the same division last year.
“Winning and losing is part of the game and last year it was hard for me. I put in a lot of hard work in training and I came back hard and won gold.”
Twin Joao and Paulo Miyao gave Brazil even more reason to celebrate by winning the 62kg and 69kg divisions respectively.