Jiu-Jitsu Legends Set To Go Head-to-Head at the 2017 WPJJC, Abu Dhabi


  • Ten icons of the sport to showdown including Kenny Florian, Wellington “Megaton” Dias and Marcio Cruz
  • Matches span over Bantamweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight divisions
  • The 9th championship takes place from 10th-23rd April at IPIC Arena, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi
  • Just over 2 weeks left to register for World Professional Championship runs which 18th-22nd April 2017

The ninth annual Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championships, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, welcomes legends of the sport for the second year running, in what is set to be an epic showdown on Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Ten Jiu-Jitsu icons, both current and retired, will battle it out on the mat for five gold belts in the ultimate clash of talent.

The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation is proud to announce fights between Bantamweight legends Wellington “Megaton” Dias (USA) and Helio “Soneca” Moreira (Brazil); Lightweight legends Alexandre “Soca” Freitas and Baret Yoshida (HAW); Welterweight legends Kenny Florian (USA) and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro; Middleweight legends Amaury Bitetti (BRA) and Roberto “Spider” Traven (USA); and Heavyweight legends Marcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz (BRA) and Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga (BRA).

Fighting in the brand-new Bantamweight division of the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship is Wellington “Megaton” Dias from the USA, who has been a star of the sport for over two decades. Megaton, known for his takedown slams that are so loud they resemble a megaton bomb, is the only Jiu-Jitsu fighter to have competed in all first 16 editions of the World BJJ Championships as a black belt (from 1996 until 2011), having reached the podium on 4 occasions.

Meeting him on the mat is Helio “Soneca” Moreira, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend who became one of the sport’s top competitors in the late 1990’s. He is black belt under Carlos Gracie Junior and is one of the first black belts produced by the Gracie Barra academy.

Lightweight Legend Alexandre Freitas is nicknamed “Soca” – meaning puncher or striker – for his ferocious boxing skills. He started practicing Jiu-Jitsu in 1988 at the young age of 16 under the tutelage of the Gracie Barra Academy in Brazil. After he received his black belt in 1994, he went on to have an illustrious career as both a coach and a competitor; winning 16 fights in BJJ Mundials, and most notably being named Brazilian National Champion in 1996 and Pan American Champion in 2000.

Freitas goes head-to-head with old rival Baret Yoshida, a mixed martial artist and grappling specialist, who has been one of the key American figures in the sport since the turn of the millennium.

Another new category in 2017 is Welterweight division welcoming Kenny Florian from the USA, an MMA star and former UFC competitor turned TV pundit. His Jiu-Jitsu accomplishments have included the NAGA BJJ Superfight Champion and Grappler’s Quest Superfight Champion.


Facing up to Florian in Welterweight is three-time black belt World Jiu-Jitsu Champion, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Vitor started his BJJ career at 14 years-old in the famous Andre Pederneiras School, Nova Uniao. Reaching his black belt in record time – at just 18 years-old after only four years of practicing the sport – Vitor went on to win the World Championships in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Renowned as one of the best grapplers to have practiced Jiu-Jitsu, Vitor went on to apply these skills to MMA where they shone through as he went on to win several title fights before progressing to a career in coaching Mixed Martial Arts.

Amaury Bitetti is a Brazilian mixed martial artists and star of Jiu-Jitsu who is competing in this year’s Middleweight division at Legends. Betetti, who began his Jiu-Jitsu career at age 5, trained under the late Carlson Gracie. The fierce fighter won the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship Absolute division in 1996 and 1997 and went on to win the Brazillian National Jiu-Jitsu Championships in 1998 and 2000 in the 94kg division.

His competitor Roberto “Spider” Traven hails all the way from the USA and was said to be one of the top Jiu-Jitsu practitioners at the turn of the millennium. A black belt under Romero “Jacaré” Cavalcanti, Traven conquered some of the most prestigious tournaments of his time such as the Brazilian Nationals, the Mundial and the Abu Dhabi Combat Championships.

WPJJC 2017
Moving to the final division, heavyweight Jiu-Jitsu Legend Marcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz returns to Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship for the second time and previously took bronze at the Abu Dhabi Combat Championships in 2003. With a career spanning back to 1996, when Marcio began learning Jiu-Jitsu at 17 years-old, the Brazilian won a number of titles and championships on the path to receiving his black belt in 2001. With 45 career wins and two World Champion titles to his name as a black belt, Marcio is renowned as one of the most gifted players the Jiu-Jitsu world has ever seen.

Opponent Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga, whose nickname is “Napao” which means “big nose” in Portuguese is a retired Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former UFC Champion. Gonzaga won a gold medal in the Ultra Heavyweight division at the 2006 Mundials, which is considered to be the top BJJ competition in the world.
The Legends competition comes as part of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, an elite sporting championship taking place for two weeks from Monday 10th until Sunday 23rd April 2017 at the IPIC Arena, Zayed Sports City. More than 7,000 competitors from over 100 countries will descend on Abu Dhabi to fight it out for world titles and a prize fund of up to AED 3 million.

Hundreds of international players including Gabriel Arges, Alexandre Ribeiro, Jose Junior and Mackenzie Dern will descend on the IPIC Arena from 18th – 22nd April to compete at the World Professional Championship and there is still time for athletes to register! Registration is open until 12th April 2017 and athletes can contact the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation to avail special travel rates. Athletes that register before the 12th April will also be entered into a special draw to win a Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE 2017. Athletes can register at
As well as the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship itself and the Legends competition, fans will be able to experience the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival, Youth Jiu-Jitsu Cup and the newly added Para-Jiu-Jitsu event.

In addition to the non-stop action on the mat there will be plenty of fun filled family entertainment with the return of the IPIC Fan Zone which will include sponsor activities, family events and interactive stands, making it the perfect family day-out. There will even be the chance to win exciting prizes including two brand new cars from Premier Motors that include a Jaguar XE and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The Championship is open to all and is free to attend across the two weeks. To learn more about the event, to register and keep up-to-date with the program visit

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