The ADWPJJC (Abu Dhabi World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship) 2023 is coming up soon and we spoke to some of the reigning champions to get their thoughts on the divisions ahead of them. Although they all have their titles on the line at the event, they will each face different challenges along the way to retaining their belts. There will be exciting young prospects, fierce old rivals, and in one case even a fellow champion standing in their way. As with any tournament, it’s impossible to predict how the brackets will play out and who will end up facing the reigning champions. One thing is for certain though, there will be plenty of tough matches waiting for them.
Zayed Alkatheeri is one of the lightest returning champions at ADWPJJC 2023, as he will be attempting to defend his crown at light-featherweight. He has already made history as the first UAE athlete to win an IBJJF major, but this tournament will undoubtedly mean even more to him as it takes place on his home soil. He has plenty of tough opposition in his division, and he was clearly aware of that himself:
“I intend to work hard to repeat this good result at the World Pro. It won’t be easy, but I will work with my team to achieve my best performance in this event. The matches that I’m looking forward to are against Thalison Soares or Yuri Hendrex, they are one of the best at 56kg, I’m so excited to have the rematch. They would be amazing matches.”
We also spoke to Diego Sodre, the reigning lightweight champion, and he was also determined to win a second title. He has a huge amount of appreciation for the promotion itself for organizing such a huge tournament, and he has his sights set on another challenge on the horizon too:
“I like compete in the Abu Dhabi World Pro, it’s an event that really is on another level. Last year I was champion and it was an incredible feeling, this year when I was here and you can see my photo on the wall at our event it gave me extra motivation. The press conferences and the conferences are were also very cool, I feel like a celebrity. I would like to thank the UAE (United Arab Emirates) for the opportunity. I made special preparation for this because I feel there is always something to improve. Without a doubt I will fight better than last year, and I want this title to continue at home. I want to be champion twice, I want to be able to come back next year and be surprised even more by the event. In my category I would really like to face the current ADXC (Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship) champion Fabricio Andrey, if he of course accepts to fight me. I will be ready, seriously, a great fight.”
The welterweight division is just as stacked with top competitors as the lightweight division, and Lucas Protasio is undoubtedly going to face a lot of challenges as he looks to defend his belt. If anyone can leave ADWPJJC 2023 as one of the promotion’s two-time champions, Protasio is a solid candidate. We spoke to him about his aspirations for the event as well:
“I think World Pro 2023 will be once against a great event. I feel very excited to defend my title in the 77kg category. There’s many athletes fighting in this tournament and of course everybody wants this title for sure. I will give my best in every fight and I am coming for the gold no matter what.”
Of all the reigning champions returning at ADWPJJC 2023, only one of them has another division’s champion challenging him. Catriel Rodrigues is the light-heavyweight champion, but Fellipe Andrew is moving up from middleweight this year and will be looking to dethrone him. Rodrigues was eager to face that challenge head-on when we spoke to him though:
“Honestly I’m really excited to see who is coming from the Brazilian qualifier. It was a surprise for me as Fellipe Andrew moved up to 94kg, I would like to face him. The main bracket is great really, for being there to defend my title.”
Not every champion from ADWPJJC 2022 is going to be able to retain their belt this time around, and it’ll be interesting to see who manages to leave with an undefeated record this year. There will be plenty of action in each division and once the dust has settled, there will be a whole new generation of champions crowned.
The full Abu Dhabi World Pro 2023 event, including all of the returning champions in each division, will be available to watch live from November 8th to 10th, 2023 on AJPTour.tv.