UAE’s Kathiri sets sights on winning gold at Abu Dhabi Grand Slam finale


With his explosive fighting style combining powerful takedowns, Zayed Al Kathiri has quickly made a name for himself in the jiu-jitsu world.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter


History-maker Zayed Al Kathiri will take to the mat at the Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi this weekend hoping to secure another black belt gold medal to accompany the one he claimed in the UAE capital last November.


The 23-year-old is one of the UAE’s most promising jiu-jitsu stars and will be a hot favourite going into the final leg of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam World Tour from Friday to Sunday.


At the World Pro Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship held in the emirate last year, Kathiri defeated Brazilian Nathannael Fernandes in an intense final to become the first Emirati black belt to win gold on such a stage.


With his explosive fighting style combining powerful takedowns, lightning-fast submissions, and aggressive technique, Kathiri has quickly made a name for himself in the jiu-jitsu world. Winning numerous titles at both national and international level, including multiple gold medals across multiple belt categories at the Abu Dhabi World Pro and various AJP Tour events.


As the final Abu Dhabi Grand Slam weekend draws near, Kathiri – ranked No.1 among black belt professionals competing in the 56kg category – is looking forward to showcasing his skills once more – and fully expects to add another prestigious title to his already impressive haul. “I have trained extensively for this final round and am confident I will win. I’ve already achieved gold medals for all belt colours and am prepared for any challenge that comes my way. Winning gold with my black belt will be amazing.


“I believe I’m capable of performing well in all the different positions and chapters of jiu-jitsu, including stand-up fighting, passing, and playing guard. This flexibility allows me to adapt to different strategies and tactics in a fight.”


Competing under the UAE flag, Kathiri’s win at last year’s Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship World Pro is serving as inspiration as he prepares for his latest challenge.


“Fighting while representing the values of the UAE is a source of great motivation for me,” he said.  “I feel incredibly happy and proud to be the first Emirati black belt to win a medal at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu ChampionshipWorld Pro.”


As a full-time jiu-jitsu athlete, Kathiri serves as a role model for young Emiratis and is devoted to promoting the UAE’s national’s sport, inspiring others to pursue it.


“In order to succeed in this sport, it takes hard work, dedication, resilience, and sacrifice. There are no shortcuts,” he said. “You also need support, so I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, and fans who have helped me along the way. Without them, I would not be here.”


Those fans can eagerly anticipate Kathiri’s performance this weekend. With his impressive record, talent and newfound experience, he will be sure to try to put on a spectacular show, cementing his status as one of the sport’s top practitioners.


The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour, considered one of the most significant events in the global jiu-jitsu calendar, boasts impressive prizes totaling $1,525,000 for the first-place holders of the season.


The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam will make its final stop of the season in the UAE capital after visiting Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Sydney, and London.


The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) and Abu Dhabi Jiu Jitsu Pro (AJP) are jointly organising the event, which is open to male and female players from various clubs and academies worldwide.


Among the most popular athletes, Lucas Protasio and Julia Alves, leaders of the 2021-2022 ranking, have already secured their spots at the event. Aiming to repeat their feat in the 2022-2023 season, they will have to overcome other heavy hitters who have their eyes on the prize, such as Yuri Hendrex, Zayed

Alkatheeri, Alexa Yanes, Rose el Sharouni, Catriel Oliveira, Uanderson Ferreira, Thiago Macedo, Hiago George, Ingridd Alves, Leonardo Mario, Renato Cardoso, and Yatan Bueno.


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