December 19, 2023

With only one weekend of competition left before AJP goes on hiatus until 2024, this is the best time to relive the greatest moments 2023 has brought to our organization, to the fight fans who watched every step of our journey, and to the athletes who walked that path alongside us around the world.

And what a year it has been! From January to December, AJP has had a singular goal in mind: Promote action-packed tournaments throughout the planet, increasing the sport’s popularity and the reach of Jiu-Jitsu. We’ve achieved what we set out to do, but the work is never really done. As we get ready to enter a new year and start a new cycle, AJP aims to visit even more countries and continue to improve upon the championships that you know and love. So stick with us and watch as we aim for even greater heights in our pursuit of evolving alongside Jiu-Jitsu.

But before we can truly look to the promises of tomorrow, let’s remember the glories of yesterday. From all the duels, the warriors, and the battlefields that were part of our mission, a couple of moments highlighted our 2023, and now we share them with you.

Zayed Alkatheeri and Khaled Alshehi become Heroes in the UAE

From May 5th to 7th, the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam World Tour landed at the birthplace of the AJP, bringing the organization’s signature action closer to its roots and giving athletes a golden opportunity to get to know the capital of Jiu-Jitsu. After the Masters amazed the crowds with their expertise and knowledge on the first day, the Professional black belts took the stage on the second and last day, allowing their performances to speak for themselves as they fought for glory and for those sweet ranking points.

Many Heroes earned their titles on that fateful day, but the Emirati duo Zayed Alkatheeri and Khaled Alshehi grabbed the crowd’s attention with their prowess and resolve as they fought to seize the gold in their homeland. In the 56kg division, Zayed was relentless in the pursuit of his goal and came out on top of two challenging battles to reach it, starting with a tight 4-3 against Bruno Borges in the semifinal, but the most arduous of battles was still to come, with Zayed facing the always dangerous Yuri Hendrex in the title round. Throughout the five minutes of regulated time, it seemed like the match could’ve gone either way as both athletes evened each other out with their technical know-how, but Zayed refused to accept anything less than the victory and went all-in with his Jiu-Jitsu, scoring last in the 2-2 result and causing cheers all around the Mubadala Arena.

But the thrills didn’t stop there. Determined to cement his name as one of the powerhouses of the 62kg division, Khaled Alshehi left no room for debate about his talent as he climbed the bracket and faced increasingly tough opponents. After his first victory in the quarterfinals by points, the UAE athlete went toe-to-toe against Australia-based Brazilian Wagner Chrispim, saving his spot in the final with a 2-1 score. For his last duel at the tournament, Khaled faced a nerve-wracking battle against the tough-as-nails Jefferson Fagundes, with the match taking the entirety of the regulated time and ending in favor of Khaled, who scored last in the 8-8 result to become an ADGS champion in his country.

Leonardo Mario submits all opponents and conquers the Europe Continental before the AJP top rank

From October 6th to 8th, the AJP Tour Europe Continental Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2023 landed in Turkey and brought athletes the chance to earn valuable points close to the end of the season. With Amateurs and Masters on the first day, Professionals on the second, and Youth on the third and final day, everyone was welcome to join the tournament and put their training to the test while pursuing the coveted gold medal.

A powerhouse representing PSLPB Cícero Costha, the Brazilian black belt Leonardo Mario did not let this opportunity to show his dominance over the 69kg weight division slip by. Starting at the bracket against the Russian Shamil Gaziev, Leonardo spared no efforts to advance to the final and scored 5-1 before landing a submission to end the bout. On the other side of the bracket, the also-Brazilian Jefferson Fagundes found himself faced with a similar scenario as he too had to defeat a Russian to advance in the bracket. Much like Leonardo’s match, Jefferson quickly submitted Domash Etezov and saved his spot in the gold round.

One fight to go and two countrymen clashing with the 69kg division title on the line. While both fighters are undeniably talented, Leonardo Mario showed here exactly why he closed the 2022-2023 season as the #1 in the Professional black belt ranking. After Jefferson managed to score once against him, Leonardo kept his cool and soon enough found the chance to jump in and end his campaign in the best way possible, with a submission to lift him up to the podium as the sole and undisputed champion. The Europe Continental was only one of the many titles Leonardo gathered along the way, putting in the highest spot in the 2023 AJP Global ranking.

Ingridd Alves conquers multiple Grand Slams and the Abu Dhabi World Professional

It’s impossible to talk about the greatest champions of the 2022-2023 season and not mention the powerhouse that is Ingridd Alves. Throughout the year, the Brazilian black belt proved time and again that she is one of the most fearsome athletes in the organization, conquering titles in most of the major AJP tournaments and remaining undefeated for over six months. By the time November came around and brought the long-awaited Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2023, Ingridd did what she does best and won yet another gold medal to add to her collection and end the season on the top of the Women’s Brown/Black ranking.

But before she even reached the AWPJJC 2023, Ingridd showcased her tight Jiu-Jitsu as she bested opponent after opponent while putting on a true show for the crowds. Among her many exploits, she landed a golden submission in the ADGS Abu Dhabi final to climb the podium and start her undefeated streak, went through three tough challengers to take the ADGS title in her homeland, came out on top with and without the gi to take the coveted double gold at the North America Continental, and seized the ADGS Miami gold after a well-placed submission over Izadora Silva.

And then came the ADWPJJC 2023. With her track record, Ingridd entered the under 70kg bracket as one of the favorites for the title, and she quickly showed why. In the quarterfinals, Ingridd fought her first match against Gabriella Ripepi and was completely dominant from start to finish, scoring 13-0 before ending with a submission. The next opponent was the ADWPJJC 2022 champion Izadora Silva, who put up a fight but was ultimately unable to stop Ingridd, who used a 4-2 score to launch herself to the finals. The last challenger of the season would be the UK-based Nia Blackman, who started the gold round on the offensive and scored by going up from the double pull, but Ingridd managed to go up and take the lead on the scoreboard by 2-1, stabilizing herself on top to avoid Nia’s attacks until the clock ran out and she was crowned the champion once again.