The first Abu Dhabi Pro Trials event in the U.S. took place this past weekend in San Antonio Texas. The winner of the all the men’s Brown/Black Belt divisions wins a free trip to compete in the Championships in Abu Dhabi next Spring. For the women’s divisions, only the winner of the Absolute divisions wins the trip.
A surprise for this first event was that the women’s weight divisions were listed at 140lbs and below or over 140lbs. Last year the divisions were 138lbs and below or over 138lbs. Did they change it or did someone miscalculate the metric conversion?
The women are still fighting for a more equal representation of divisions in both the Abu Dhabi Pro events and ADCC. Perhaps one day the organizers will see how many more women would be able to compete with the addition of even just 2 more weight classes.The Purple Belts came out big at this event! One of the biggest stand outs for the women at the San Antonio event was Purple Belt Mackenzie Dern. Despite being one of the smallest women competing in her division (Mackenzie usually competes at featherweight and most of the women fighting in the under 140lbs division fight middleweight, a full 2 weight classes above her), she went on to win her division convincingly.
Mackenzie won her first match against Purple Belt Ariadne Burkhart via choke, then went on to face Purple Belt Nathalia Azoff in the semifinals. Winning on points yet again, she was propelled into the finals against the ever tough Brazilan Black Belt, Michelle Tavares who was coming off a 2-0 win over new Paragon Purple Belt, Laurah Hallock then an advantage win over Nova Uniao Purple Belt, Kristina Barlaan. Mackenzie and Michelle had a tough match with Mackenzie coming out the victor on points.The +140lbs division had 3 participants, Lloyd Irvin Medium-Heavy Purple Belt Sijara Eubanks, Relson Gracie Medium-Heavy Brown Belt, Christy Thomas, and new Nova Uniao Middle Weight Purple Belt, Kelly Faszholz. Christy beat Kelly Faszholz then went to take on Sijara next. However, Sijara was able to surpass Christy on points in the final for the Gold medal.
The winner of the absolute division would take not only a gold medal but also a free trip to compete in the World Championships! Christy Thomas would win her first match against Kristina Barlaan by armbar moving her up to face Mackenzie Dern next. The much smaller Mackenzie was able to pull out the win by points bringing her up against the very tough Sijara Eubanks, also 3 weight classes heavier, who was coming off a very close match against Michelle Tavares (who beat Kelly Faszholz on her way to the semis). Sijara and Mackenzie fought to a draw for a few minutes on the feet, both working their Judo, before Mackenzie jumped guard. Sijara quickly stood up and forced her to an open guard and began working to pass, Mackenzie shot a triangle but Sijara quickly escaped. Mackenzie attempted to put Sijara into the 50/50 but Sijara almost passed, forcing Mackenzie to turn away. Towards the end of the match, Sijara finally managed to pass Mackenzie’s tricky guard, and worked her way into side control, finally securing the win via wristlock. Sijara Eubanks wins the Gold Medal and trip to compete in Abu Dhabi in Spring 2012!
Click here for full results Abu Dhabi Pro Trials San Antonio Results
What an amazing display by all the female competitors! If you are interested in pursuing the free trip to the Abu Dhabi Pro World Championships, the next Abu Dhabi Pro Trials will be held in Mexico on December 17/18.