ABU DHABI GRAND SLAM MOSCOW: BLACK BELT CHAMPIONS EXCEL ON THE MATS OF RUSSIA IN THRILLING OPENER FOR THE 2019/2020 SEASON

The 2019/2020 season of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Tour is now officially open. On this Sunday, June 16, some of the best competitors in the world gathered at the Triumph Arena, in Moscow, Russia, for the first of six events in the season. The crowd on the stands and the viewers at home were not disappointed with the level of action on the mats offered by both newly promoted black belts and seasoned crowd favorites. Here's how each weight class in the male black belt division and the female brown/black belt division played out.

MALE BLACK BELT

56kg – As expected, Carlos Alberto Oliveira and Thalison Soares made it to the final after winning their first matches. Bebeto found a choke from the back to beat Frederico Guimarães while Thalison debuted as a black belt with a 15-0 lead on Guimarães. In the final, Bebeto Oliveira used a smart strategy to put a stop on Thalison's attacks and ended winning with a 2-1 lead on advantages.

62kg – After finishing first in the adult male black belt ranking in the 2018/2019 season, Gabriel Sousa is back for more. In one match, he beat Russia's Isa Karanasov 8-0 to reach the final. Gabriel's opponent would be Francisco Andrade, who finished Isa Karanasov to make it to the gold medal match. In the final, Gabriel Sousa managed a sweep in the early moments of the match to score a 2-0 lead and then held on to that lead until the end.

69kg – Diego “Pato” Oliveira was another black belt debutant in Moscow. He fought twice to reach the final. First he beat Spain's Alejandro Carreras 13-2 and then had a tough match against Israel Almeida, winning only via referee decision after a 6-6 tie on points. Thiago Macedo qualified to the gold medal match also on two matches. He beat Victor Otoniel 2-0 and then finished Italy's Alexandre Molinaro in the semifinal. In the final, Diego Pato was able to make his game work and beat Thiago Macedo by a narrow 2-0 lead on advantages.

77kg – Diego Ramalho fought once to make it to the final. He beat Natan Chueng 2-0 on points in the semifinals. Andre Luis Cantanhede fought twice to reach the final. He beat Spain's Rodrigo Barbosa 2-0 and then Michael Douglas by referee decision in the semifinal. In the final, Diego Ramalho and Andre Cantanhede waged a sweep battle that ended with a 6-4 lead for Diego.

85kg – In quick fashion, Rudson Mateus caught Igor Sousa with an armbar from the 50/50 guard to qualify for the final. His opponent would be Switzerland's Philippe Pomaski, who beat Russia's Abdulari Guseinov 1-0 on advantages in the second semifinal. In the final, Rudson beat Philippe by split referees decision after a 0-0 tie on points in a close match.

94kg – Jackson Sousa fought once to reach the final. He beat Russia's Georgii Emelianov 7-0 in the semifinal. Jackson would meet Helton Junior in the gold medal match after Helton won the spot via WO against Kaynan Duarte. In the final, Jackson Sous