New Zealand determines reps in Abu Dhabi

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Thiago (in blue) shows off his conquest. The Brazilian black belt won the absolute and will go to Abu Dhabi. Photos: Sid Jacintho.

New Zealand’s qualifiers for the World Pro were held on the 13th. The big standout in the absolute brown and black belt division was Thiago Stefanutti (Streckert/Maromba), a Brazilian black belt who recently arrived in Australia, according to our collaborator Sid Jacintho, a teacher on Emirates Team.

Thiago flew to New Zealand and won four thousand dollars in prize money, but he didn’t have it easy.

In his first match he went past local athlete (and MMA fighter) Oliver, a Gracie Barra representative, by a score of 2 to 0. In the second, he overcame Bruno Corvello (Douglas Santos) by an advantage point. In the final, he got knee-on-belly and passed the guard of Brazilian brown belt Fernando Junior (Tu Kaha).

Another to stand out on the day was Andrew Craven, a Will Machado purple belt who made his name by beating an opponent weighing 160 kg (350 lbs) in Folau Kula. Andrew dazzled the crown by outpointing the local giant in the purple belt absolute semifinal.

In the blue belt absolute, Bobby Mules (Douglas Santos) brought the crowd to its feet securing his spot at the next World Pro main event in the very last minute of the bout.

The best from the Emirates was purple belt Jabar Al Darai, who won bronze in the lightweight absolute class.

The next tryouts are on the 26th and 27th in Jordan, so stay tuned to

Abu Dhabi World Cup Pro New Zealand Trials


Brown/black absolute

Thiago Stefanutti (Extreme)

Purple belt lightweight absolute (under-74kg)

Paul McVeigh

Purple belt heavyweight absolute (over-74kg)

Andrew Craven (Will Machado)

Blue belt lightweight absolute (under-74kg)

Adam Johnson (Douglas Santos)

Blue belt heavyweight absolute (over-74kg)

Bobby Mules (Douglas Santos)

Blue/White under-68kg

Adam Johnson (Douglas Santos JJ)

Blue/White under-74kg

Remo Guerri (Tu Kaha)

Blue/White under-80kg

Aaron Dempsey (Sorriso JJ)

Blue/White under-84kg

Joshua Sergeant (Gracie Barra)

Blue/White under-92kg

Simon Scott (Douglas Santos)

White-Blue over-92.0 kg

Simeona Peni (Tu Kaha)

Female under-65kg

Jessica Tolhurst (Fight Club)

Female under-65kg

Leyla Okyay (Will Machado Whangarei)

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There are 22 comments for this article
  1. Tal at 5:06 pm

    Well done to all those who competed. I do think you should only be allowed to compete in the trials in a particular country if you have been resident for a certain period of time though (eg 3-6 months or something) otherwise anyone could rock in and compete which makes it a little bit of a joke

  2. Tal at 1:01 am

    Thats true but I don’t agree with that either. I have no problem with people from other countries competing in other tourneys for medals but when its a trial for a particular country’s athletes to compete at a world event then the tickets should go to people who have a commitment to the country.

  3. Tal at 6:26 pm

    Not crying Silvio, maybe I am not being clear enough. All I am saying is that if you are going to open it to anyone from any country then don’t say its a competition to determine a New Zealand representative. Just say all qualifying comps around the world are open to any nationality and you are just looking for the best competitors in the world. If however you want athletes who actually represent that country then restrict it to people living in those countries. I don’t care which way it is done it just needs to be consistent.

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