World Pro: Friday’s standouts in Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the venue for the event / Photos: Raphael Nogueira

Abu Dhabi’s lavish Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel is captivating to the Jiu-Jitsu fighters not just for the extravagance of its facilities, but because of the finer details. Right at the reception, guests have access to a counter replete with dates, a common part of the Middle Eastern diet, as well as the Gracie Diet.

It was while savoring some of those dates that the reporter came upon Tarsis Humphreys and Bernardo Faria. The two aces from Alliance were on their way to the restaurant where lunch was served. They rushed through their food to not miss the first bus taking competitors, staff and journalists to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the arena where, at around 3:15 pm, the No-Gi version of the 2011 Jiu-Jitsu World Pro would begin.

Neither Bernardo nor Tarsis did too well this Friday. The former was routed 7 to 0 at weight by Rafael Lovato and was submitted in the quarterfinals of the absolute by Gilmar Oliveira (choke).

The pair to truly shine throughout the day was Rodolfo Vieira and Rafael Mendes. Rodolfo kept true to the form he exhibited at the 2011 Pan. Summing up his engagements at weight and open weight, he fought seven times. The most hard-fought of them all was the absolute semifinal against Vagner “Ceará” Rocha. Rodolfo came from behind to win on advantage points in the waning moments of the match. Riveting.

Rodolfo attacks Bruno Bastos in weight group semifinal. The match ended 13-0 for Rodolfo.

Now Rafa seems to be “fiestier” than ever. In a good way, of course. Praiseworthy was the fighters slickness in dealing with much larger opponents without resorting to a run-away strategy. Rafa goes on the attack, intimidates. That was the case against Gilmar Oliveira (yes, the same one who submitted Bernardo Faria).

Displaying the riskiest maneuver of the event until now, Rafa took Gilmar’s back and squeezed out a rear-naked choke. Gilmar hung on, but lost on the scorecards.

This Saturday, the youngest Mendes (who is no more than 145 lbs) will enter the absolute decider against Rodolfo Vieira (around 200 lbs), “the locomotive.” Who takes this one? Voice your prediction in the comments section below.

Another duo drawing wows this Friday was Xande Ribeiro and Rafael Lovato. Wielding well-honed techniques, the two black belts had stellar showings at their respective weights. Xande is in his over-92 kg-division final against José Junior, while Lovato is in the under-92kg final against man-of-the-hour Rodolfo Vieira.

In the absolute division, however, Xande and Lovato were beaten early on in their brackets.

Check out the black belt finals:

ABSOLUTE: Rodolfo Vieira vs. Rafael Mendes

UNDER-65KG: Rafael Mendes vs. Guilherme Mendes

UNDER-74KG: Davi Ramos vs. Rodrigo Caporal

UNDER-83KG: Vinicius Corrales vs. James Harbison

UNDER-92KG: Rodolfo Vieira vs. Rafael Lovato

Over-92kG: Xande Ribeiro vs. José Junior

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