World No-Gi Pro: Saturday in Abu Dhabi

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Anyone expecting all out war in the brown/black belt absolute final was left somewhat disappointed. The bout between Rodolfo Vieira and Rafael Mendes (around 65 lbs the lighter) ended in a 0-0 draw both on points and advantages.

Rodolfo spent most of the match on his feet, legs bent, trying to pass the open guard of Mendes, who attempted a few attacks, but nothing noteworthy. There was a clear excess of caution from both parties. At the end of the six regulation minutes the ref ordered the two to kneel at center ring. He then called a huddle with the two backup refs. Uncertainty hung in the air of the arena. Who would take home the 15 thousand dollar prize money? The question was answered when the ref returned to center ring, asked Rafa and Rodolfo to get to their feet, and raised the hand of the heavier and lengthier athletes.

Rodolfo defeated Rafa Mendes via judges' decision. Photos: Raphael Nogueira.

Rodolfo looked incredulous. He thanked God and went straight to the podium to receive his gold medal. The incredulousness could perhaps be explained by the let down the black belt suffered just minutes earlier, when he lost 4-2 to Rafael Lovato in the under-92 kg decider.

“I broke down, even cried. . . If it weren’t for my friends, I wouldn’t have had the strength or psychological wherewithal to face Rafa in the absolute final. I’m just thankful that my friends picked up my spirits for me,” vented Rodolfo, just after leaving the podium.

The showdown with Lovato was, in the opinion of GRACIEMAG.com, the best match of the day.

Lively, highly technical and back-and-forth. Rodolfo started out landing a sightly throw on Lovato. The former tied things up with a sweep and then, in the waning moments, landed yet another, of the same variety (catching his opponent’s neck in his arm). By the time Rodolfo tried to launch a comeback, time had run out. Finally someone this season has managed to stop the seemingly unstoppable Rodolfo Vieira. Hats off to Lovato.

The best of Saturday's matches, Lovato defeated Rodolfo Vieira 4 to 2 in the under-92kg final.

The match between Xande Ribeiro and José Junior (over-92 kg final) was an interesting one too. Junior stumps anyone who doesn’t know him. He’s not muscular, seems to be quiet and introspective, but when once he’s in the match area he gushes gas and technique. On Friday he caught aces Lucio Lagarto and Gilmar Oliveira off guard. This Saturday, against Xande, he put up a tough fight, but was unable to withstand the consistency and experience of Saulo Ribeiro’s younger brother. Xande took the divisional title by a score of 5 to 2.

Check out the results from the main matches of the World Pro JJ Cup 2011 No-Gi contest held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Next week the Gi event gets underway.

Under-65kg: Rafael Mendes 6 x 4 Guilherme Mendes
Winner: Rafa Mendes

Under-74kg: Rodrigo Caporal 5 x 2 Davi Ramos
Winner: Rodrigo Caporal

Under-83kg: Vinicius Corrales defeated James Harbinson via judges’ decision
Winner: Vinícius Corrales

Under-92kg: Rafael Lovato 4 x 2 Rodolfo Vieira
Winner: Rafael Lovato Jr

Over-92kg: Xande Ribeiro 5 x 2 José Junior
Winner: Xande Ribeiro

Absolute brown/black: Rodolfo Vieira defeated Rafael Mendes via decision
Winner: Rodolfo Vieira

Absolute purple belt:
Champion: De Alonzio “DJ” Jackson

Absolute blue/white:
Champion: Gregor Rodrigues

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