With a huge debut in the Oceania continent, the AJP Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Sydney delivered what the crowd and spectators all over the world expected: great matches, lots of technique, and camaraderie among the fighters at the Quaycentre Sydney Olympic Park.

This Sunday, February 5th, the last day of fights at ADGS Sydney, the three mat areas became one, with all the spotlights turned to the adult finals, in the men’s black belt division, and the women’s brown/black belt division.

Among the highlights, we had the veterans of the AJP Hiago George and Thiago Macedo, champions in the 56kg and 69kg divisions, the refined technique of Alexa Yanis, and for the local champions Levi Jones-Leary, Nikki Lloyd-Griffiths, and Shantelle Thompson.

Check out the highlights from the finals below, and to catch up on all the excitement from ADGS Sydney and more thrilling AJP tournaments, head over to now!


56kg: Haitham Hanawi vs Josh Stolton

The athlete from the United Arab Emirates, Haitham Hanawi showed all his technique in the Sydney mats. With only one opponent in the bracket, Haitham and Josh Stolton were scheduled to face each other in a best-of-three dispute. The first fight went to Haitham, winning 2-0. In the next duel, Haitham started on the offensive, but the fight slowed down in the 50/50 guard. With a tie on the scoreboard in regulation time, the dispute went overtime. Josh then attacked with everything, trying to take Haitham down. The Emirati avoid the takedowns, convinced the referees, and took gold in the referees’ decision.

62kg: Hiago George vs Leonardo Mario

Two acquaintances from the AJP circuit and teammates at Cicero Costha’s academy, Hiago and Leonardo made it to the featherweight final. The fight was hectic, with Leonardo Mario looking for breaches to attack the experienced Hiago, who always seemed to have an ace up his sleeve to counterattack his opponent. In one of these attacks, Hiago spun with speed and tried the armbar, well defended by Leonardo. On top, Leonardo tried adjustments to pass, but Hiago dove in a sneaky footlock attack, forcing Leonardo to tap. Victory by submission and another title on Hiago George’s resume.

69kg: Thiago Macedo vs Ariel Tabak

After shining at ADGS Sydney in the masters’ division, Thiago Macedo returned to the mat determined to win double gold, now playing among adults. Local athlete Ariel Tabak had a great campaign until reaching the final, and the fight between the two was intense. After the double pull, Thiago got up to score the first point. Minutes later, Arial swept to take the front at the scoreboard, with 2-1. Close to the end of the match, Thiago tried to get up with the single leg and managed to stand up, trying to take Ariel down. The match was over 2-1 to Ariel, but the referees called the Falcon Eye, the instant video replay to reevaluate the final seconds of the match. Thiago got the advantage point on his takedown attempt, tied 2 -2 on the scoreboard, and got the gold for being the last man to get points.

77kg: Levi Jones-Leary vs Junhyun Park

Local athlete Levy Jones-Leary, a Unity black belt with extensive competitive experience, faced the young and talented Junhyun Park, a South Korean athlete fighting under the Gracie Barra flag. Levi got the better of applying his guard game, using the momentum to sweep straight to the mount, finding his way to attack with a kata-gatame. Junhyun avoided the submission, but Levi slid to the back take and got Junhyun with a choke from the back, using the collar.

85kg: Pedro Neto vs Ramon Rosa

Both finalists at the masters division, Pedro and Ramon got their shot at the adult’s division the next day. Ramon, champion at master 1 85kg, got his final against the 77kg finalist at master 1 Pedro Neto. The match was close between the fighters, with a battle at the 50/50 guard. Ramon was the last to get on top, managing 3-2 at the scoreboard. But Pedro found his way to attack Ramon’s foot with a toehold, securing the submission and the gold medal.

94kg: Charles Negromonte vs Igor Sousa

Well-known AJP fighter, Charles Negromonte got another final in his career, this time against Igor Sousa. Charles got the action first, trying to pull Igor to his guard. After a couple of tries, Charles got the guard and tried the omoplata, but Igor managed to avoid the submission and the sweep as well. The fight went to overtime, and Charles set the pace with strong grips to pass the guard. Igor retained the guard, but in the end, Charles got the win via a referee’s decision.

120kg: Rodrigo Ribeiro vs Werique Oliveira

The last match of the day was between the big guys Rodrigo and Werique. Rodrigo got the first point with a powerful takedown dragging the opponent’s collar. After putting the fight on the ground, Rodrigo used his pressure to pass the opponent’s legs, putting pressure at the north-south position and jumping over Werique, to stabilize at the side control. Werique tried to push Rodrigo to release some of the pressure, but Rodrigo found Werique’s loose hand to shoot the attack with a sneaky and fast wristlock to secure the gold medal.


49kg: Wendy Tran vs Hana Vengrinova

With two athletes registered at the roosterweight division, Wendy and Hana got themselves at a best-of-three matches decision. At the first duel, Hana won by 2-1. In the second match, Wendy got the win, with 2-2 by sweeping close to the end of the fight. For the last and decisive match, Wendy put on her best display of technique, swept straight to the mount, tried to submit with a triangle from the top, and attacked Hana with an americana lock, but in the end, the win came to Wendy by point, with 9-3 at the scoreboard.

55kg: Alexa Yanes vs Leah Budd

Representing the Rodrigo Pinheiro Academy, the fierce Alexa Yanes got another gold in his AJP career. Fighting out of the USA, Alexa battled in the final match against Leah Budd, from Absolute MMA. Alexa used her guard to trap Leah with the omoplata to sweep, getting at the top, and straight to the side control. Leah tried to defend herself but Alexa got her back and the collar, getting up to the mount while holding the collar for the winning crossed choke.

62kg: Alanis Santiago vs Hope Douglas

A powerful win for the puerto rican fighter Alanis Santiago, from Unity. The brown belt faced the black belt Hope Douglass, from Cicero Costha, at the lightweight final. After two penalties for both sides after the double pull, Alanis got up and attacked Hope, who got in the turtle position. Alanis found her way to the opponent’s collar and jumped to the back to squeeze the choke, securing the gold medal.

70kg: Nikki Lloyd-Griffiths vs Miranda Okazima

Local athlete representing Australia, Nikki Lloyd-Griffiths managed to submit Miranda Okazima two times before the gold medal. The definition of the division was expected to be in a best-of-three match, but Nikki got two wins to secure the title, with the second submission in a fast and adjusted armlock from the triangle in less than one minute of the fight.

95kg: Shantelle Thompson x Jessica Ng

Another local athlete getting the gold today, the brown belt from Absolute MMA Shantelle Thompson managed to beat Jessica NG two times, in a best-of-three-matches for the gold. In the first fight, Shantelle got a huge win with 13-0 on the scoreboard. In the second match, Jessica used her spider-guard and lasso-guard, avoiding Shantelle’s tries to pass the guard. After insisting with strong grips and pressure, Shantelle found her way to the side control, securing 3-0 on the scoreboard to get the gold medal.