Brazil’s Almeida back to fitness in time to defend his AD title

Denzil Pinto 08:41 14/04/2016
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Three-time men’s Open champion Marcus Almeida (c) and women’s Open winner Mackenzie Dern (l).

The Brazilian enters the tournament which begins Friday with the children’s event, searching for his fourth consecutive Open title in the black belt.

As the defending three-time champion, he will be the man to beat in the Open category, but his rivals can take encouragement in that Almeida will be tasting his first tournament action for nearly a year.

The 26-year-old suffered a knee injury at the 2015 World Championships in California last May that kept him on the sidelines for months.

Understandably, he’s raring to go, and happy to be back in the UAE capital where he has such happy memories.

“I have done something that

nobody ever has done it before here to win three times in the open weight,” he said. “I have three belts at home. It’s really sweet, you know, to have them at home.

“The championship is going to be different of course. I’m going to do my best but sure everybody else is going to give their best too. So let’s see how it goes. It’s going to be some great fights and a great tournament.”

Although lacking in match sharpness, Almeida insists his impressive record in Abu Dhabi will give him a lot of confidence.

“I feel good. Still I have to go out there and compete to know how good I feel,” he said. “I have nothing to prove here. I have seven world titles.

“Me and Rodolfo Vieira have the most titles here. So I don’t have to prove anything anymore. What I have done here, nobody is going to take it from me.

“I still keep doing this because I love it. And as a result I don’t have pressure because for me it’s fun out there.”

Almeida boasts an impressive CV, claiming a number of golds in World and Pan American Championships. With the sport evolving with new competitors and techniques, the US resident is adamant he still needs to up his game if he wants to add to his medal collection.

“Like every other sport, jiu-jitsu too is changing,” he said. “You need to keep abreast with the changes and adapt to new techniques and styles with the new generation fighters. You can’t stick to the same old methods but adapt to the changes and situations to face any situation out there on the mat.”

Speaking of the Abu Dhabi competition, he added: “There are a lot of guys out there to make a fight out of every contest, particularly those who have moved from brown to black belt this year. They are the new generation of fighters.

“It’s going to be interesting. I have also done my part and ready for the competition. For sure, it’s going to be a great show.”

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