ABU DHABI, 23rd October, 2023 (WAM) — The image of Julia Alves taking gold last year at the 14th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (ADWPJJC) remains fresh in the Brazilian’s memory.
Emerging victorious against American Emily Fernandez in an intense Women’s Brown/Black 62kg division final, the win at Mubadala Arena marked her third championship medal from a potential five. Now, as she prepares to return, she has explained the lure of the championships and why she is more determined than ever to defend her title.
Alves holds the No. 2 rank in the Women’s Professional Brown/Black AJP Tour 2022-2023, boasting 12,000 points. She also maintains the same ranking in the Women’s Professional Brown/Black Belt Lightweight (under 62kg) Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2023-2024, with 3,800 points. She is eagerly preparing for November’s big event and has expressed her readiness to get hold of gold once again.
Reflecting on her journey, Alves fondly recalled how, in 2019, she had only US$20 to her name yet managed to borrow money to come to the UAE for an ADWPJJC debut: “The first time I fought in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, I was a blue belt and became champion after five fights. I borrowed money to fight in Abu Dhabi, so becoming a champion was a wonderful feeling.”
What followed was a remarkable achievement in the championship’s history and Alves’s career. “I have competed three more times in the brown/black division, winning a bronze medal in 2021 and clinching my first gold medal in the Brown/Black Adults division in 2022.”
Alves acknowledged her recent successes have not been handed to her. “During the fights [last year], I encountered very physically strong opponents,” she said. “I came from an arduous season as I was competing for the rankings and had to fight every month. So, at the ADWPJJC, I was already tired and had to maintain focus and discipline to achieve my last goal of the year.”
Her unwavering determination led her to victory. “I really wanted this title,” said the 22-year-old. “The previous two years, I had lost to a great athlete, and I dedicated myself twice as hard to reach my goal. I did not give up and went to the end.”
Alves highlighted the high regard international athletes, particularly those from Brazil, have for the ADWPJJC. “Abu Dhabi always brings greatness to events, no matter how small the importance of the championship,” she added. “I believe that the difference is how they treat the athletes; the structure makes us feel valued. Because it is in Abu Dhabi, they can organise and create the entire space with great magnitude and care, exactly how they envision it.”
Alves emerged as Best Women’s Brown/Black Player of the Year at the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Awards after scoring the highest-ranking points during AJP’s national, continental, and international competitions. “Last year, I was honoured as the best female athlete in the general ranking and the best athlete on the South American continent. This meant a lot to me because it validated all my efforts as an athlete. Additionally, the prize money allowed me to focus on my career and invest in future championships.”
Representing Grappling Fight Team, Alves says winning medals at ADWPJJC can significantly boost athletes on their professional journeys. “I believe winning this championship allows many athletes to focus on their athletic careers for a while, as the prizes are substantial. We usually only compete for medals and titles, so having the opportunity to compete for money gives us an extra incentive.”
The 15th edition of the championship will take place at the Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City from 1st to 10th November, featuring more than 6,000 male and female athletes from more than 100 countries.