Yara Kakish hoping to ‘open doors’ for others ahead of ADXC debut

ABU DHABI: The second Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship on Jan. 19 will feature Yara Kakish of Jordan facing off American Emily Ferreira in an explosive jiu-jitsu bout on the preliminary card.

Ahead of the big fight, the  athlete, known as one of the best Arabic players in the brown/black divisions of AJP, said that she is prepared for any challenges that might come her way.

Kakish was seen interviewing the fighters at the first event, but she emphasised that fighting was always her priority. “I always wanted to step into the cage first. That was always the first goal. But for the first one (ADXC 1), I had the opportunity to be on the side of the media. Given that I’m a black belt, I thought I would bring my expertise to interview the athletes, but my intentions were always to fight first,” Kakish said.

“In terms of the top game, I’ve been developing it over the years. I have an advanced sequence of fast passing, and loose passing that I enjoy a lot. From the bottom, I’ve developed various submission systems that I use from the closed guard, open guard, lapel, and squid guard. These are some of the things that I like to attack with,” Kakish said.

Kakish doesn’t hesitate to express pleasure in representing Jordan on the big stage, adding that it was one of the first Arab countries to introduce jiu-jitsu as a sport.

“Stepping in as a female among the limited number of black belts in the Arab world is something that will help open the door for other Arab athletes aiming for this professional level. Not having the comfort of an environment solely based on jiu-jitsu makes me work harder, study more, and delve into the details of the sport, which sets me apart,” she said.

Preferring to concentrate on her strategy rather than overly focusing on her opponents, Kakish acknowledged Ferreira’s strong guard game and specific attacks from the closed guard.

“I know she has a very well-rounded guard and specific attacks from closed guard. I’m prepared for her as I prepare for all high-level black belts. I’m ready for any situation, aiming to be aggressive and disrupt her game from the outset,” she said.

“My martial arts background, including a black belt in kickboxing, has exposed me to different environments. I’ve been training inside the cage to prepare for this competition. Also, the jiu-jitsu competitions I participate in year-round, especially under the AJP rule system, have prepared me well,” Kakish said.

The ADXC competitions have specific rules, with standard matches consisting of 3 rounds lasting 3 minutes each, separated by a 1-minute break. “Even though it’s a 3-minute bout, hunting for submissions and maintaining the pace makes it feel like a long time. I’m focusing on cardio and preparation for these rounds. There are tactical aspects we’re working on in the camp, which we’ll disclose after the fight.”

Kakish has been receiving strong support from fellow Jordanians, and Arabs in general. “So far, I’ve received numerous messages of support. Many are proud to see someone make it to the big stage. I hope this will open the door and make it easier for others to follow this path. When other females witness it happening, it feels more attainable than just an idea,” she said.

Emily Ferreira, too, is making her debut in ADXC and is determined to secure victory. A black belt and coach at Bastos Jiu-Jitsu, under the tutelage of Bruno Bastos himself, Emily brings experience from achieving a silver medal in the ADWPJJC. She aims to leverage her technical insight to gain the upper hand in the unforgiving ADXC cage.

The second Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship will take place at the Mubadala Arena in the UAE on Jan. 19. Headlined by a Grappling Main Event between Aljamain Sterling and Chase Hooper, ADXC 2 will feature 13 other matches.

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