By Michael Sears
Felipe Pena (Gracie Barra) has won the Abu Dhabi World Pro three years in a row, but as he has been inactive so far in the 2017-18 UAEJJF season, he still needed to qualify for the 2018 tournament's main bracket on Thursday in Abu Dhabi.
Pena looked flawless on his run through the 94kg qualifying rounds at Mubadala Arena, giving up zero points and submitting two out of three opponents.
When: April 24-28 | Start time: 1 AM CST daily
First up was Joao Resende (UAEJJ Team), and Felipe cruised through that match with a 6-0 win to advance to the second round. In the semifinal against Matheus Godoy (Alliance), Pena used a back take and choke to reach the final.
Felipe’s final match with Eduardo Machado (Armed Forces Team) did not take long, and 1:19 into the match he got the tap from a reverse triangle.
Now that Felipe has advanced to the main bracket on Friday, he will need four wins to reach the top of the podium in Abu Dhabi for a fourth straight year. Zaid Sami (Team Mirza) and Dongwha Choi (Jiu Jitsu Lab) will be his first two opponents, with Choi having a first-round bye.
The likely semifinal match will be against top-ranked Brazilian Helton Jose Junior (Cicero Costha). Felipe and Helton fought a year ago in the finals of the World Pro Brazilian qualifier, with Felipe winning by a score of 2-0. Adam Wardzinski (Zlomiarz), Tanner Rice (Soul Fighters), and Matthew Leighton (Bonsai) are among some of the athletes on the other side of the main bracket.