Thiago (in blue) shows off his conquest. The Brazilian black belt won the absolute and will go to Abu Dhabi. Photos: Sid Jacintho.
New Zealand’s qualifiers for the World Pro were held on the 13th. The big standout in the absolute brown and black belt division was Thiago Stefanutti (Streckert/Maromba), a Brazilian black belt who recently arrived in Australia, according to our collaborator Sid Jacintho, a teacher on Emirates Team.
Thiago flew to New Zealand and won four thousand dollars in prize money, but he didn’t have it easy.
In his first match he went past local athlete (and MMA fighter) Oliver, a Gracie Barra representative, by a score of 2 to 0. In the second, he overcame Bruno Corvello (Douglas Santos) by an advantage point. In the final, he got knee-on-belly and passed the guard of Brazilian brown belt Fernando Junior (Tu Kaha).
Another to stand out on the day was Andrew Craven, a Will Machado purple belt who made his name by beating an opponent weighing 160 kg (350 lbs) in Folau Kula. Andrew dazzled the crown by outpointing the local giant in the purple belt absolute semifinal.
In the blue belt absolute, Bobby Mules (Douglas Santos) brought the crowd to its feet securing his spot at the next World Pro main event in the very last minute of the bout.
The best from the Emirates was purple belt Jabar Al Darai, who won bronze in the lightweight absolute class.
The next tryouts are on the 26th and 27th in Jordan, so stay tuned to GRACIEMAG.com.
Abu Dhabi World Cup Pro New Zealand Trials
Thiago Stefanutti (Extreme)
Purple belt lightweight absolute (under-74kg)
Purple belt heavyweight absolute (over-74kg)
Andrew Craven (Will Machado)
Blue belt lightweight absolute (under-74kg)
Adam Johnson (Douglas Santos)
Blue belt heavyweight absolute (over-74kg)
Bobby Mules (Douglas Santos)
Adam Johnson (Douglas Santos JJ)
Remo Guerri (Tu Kaha)
Aaron Dempsey (Sorriso JJ)
Joshua Sergeant (Gracie Barra)
Simon Scott (Douglas Santos)
White-Blue over-92.0 kg
Simeona Peni (Tu Kaha)
Jessica Tolhurst (Fight Club)
Leyla Okyay (Will Machado Whangarei)