Rafael Lovato Jr. works on sinking the choke against Jake Mapes during training at UNIJJ.
The biannual Abu Dhabi Combat Club is on the way, and takes place September 26 and 27 in Barcelona. The event is the result of a chance meeting between Gracie Barra’s Nelson Monteiro and Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who began learning jiu-jitsu under the name “Ben” while studying many years ago here in San Diego. Sheik Tahnoon fell in love with grappling and now, many years later his interest has provided grappling fans the most widely regarded proving grounds in no-gi grappling.
Perhaps not coincidentally, San Diego is home to several competitors who have received invitations to compete at the event in Spain. The University of Jiu-Jitsu, which belongs to Saulo Ribeiro and Xande Ribeiro has been ground zero for local talent and acquaintances of the Ribeiros who will vie for gold medals in Spain.
Yesterday I visited the school and saw Rafael Lovato Jr., his brown belt Justin Rader, Rani Yahya, and of course Saulo and Xande. All will be competing in Barcelona. (Xande is of course the returning champion of the under 99kg division.) Assisting them in their training was Jake Mapes and Nissen Osterneck. The group was engaged in grueling positional sparring, and the entire crew was so soaked with sweat you might think they had just emerged from the waters of a local beach. Other faces who have been preparing at the UNIJJ to compete at the ADCCs will be returning champion of the women’s over 67kg division Penny Thomas and Kron Gracie.
Stay tuned for our Sunday edition of The FightWorks Podcast, which will include an interview with Saulo himself about the challenge of the ADCC, its unique rules and point system, as well as the UNIJJ’s preparation for this prestigious grappling event.
Defending champion of the Under 66kg division Rani Yahya (in black) working positional sparring with Oklahoma’s Justin Rader.