Asian tryouts for the Abu Dhabi World Pro took place March 21, and a number of the continent’s gi-clad warriors are guaranteed at the main event in Abu Dhabi with all-expense-paid trips.
Recently promoted to brown belt, Brazilian living in Japan Roberto Souza was the highlight of the qualifier held in Tokyo. He was crowned champion after getting the tapout in all his fights, yet again. He ended his campaign in the final with a footlock.
Black belt Karim Byron took the title on points, beating Amakawa Anderson in the final of the over 92kg division. In the most populated division of the tryouts, the champion had to fight five times to take his post. Kataniwa Katsunori, gold-medalist in last year’s qualifiers, repeated the feat by beating a game Makoto Ikuta by a single advantage point.
Marcos Souza earned his way in the under 83kg division, as did his brother Robert. Marcos’s campaign ended with a choke from behind in the final.
In the blue belt mix, kudos to Japanese heavyweight Hideki Sekine. Sekine is police chief for foreign affairs in the city of Hamamatsu, and took third in the Emirates last year. Charismatic and polite, the champion, who’s only a bad guy on the mat and loves a good barbecue, promised to return with the gold this time around.
In the girls’ category, Kodera Katsura proved the only thing dollish about her is her face, and earned her way to Abu Dhabi in the above 63kg category.
In the division below, after an easy finish in the first fight, Sayaka Shioda faced another favorite in the semifinal in Shirley Takaki, considered by many to be the best purple belt in Japan and very promising. But Shioda, identified as the best brown belt in the country, won a tough battle by a guard pass. In the final, Shioda won with an armbar without much difficulty.
The Dekaseeguis, Brazilians of Japanese decent working in Japan, made good in the qualifiers by winning the 74kg, 83kg and 92kg divisions, and will now represent Japan in Abu Dhabi with Brazilian colors on their gis. Kudos to Bonsai Japan, which saw three of its members go through to the April main event in the Emirates with all expenses paid.
Check out the photos of Fernando Ferreira (Quality):