One of amateur MMA’s most dominant forces of 2018 returned to action this month. Pavel Senchenko successfully reemerged on the Ukrainian national scene following a long stint on the sidelines due to injury.
The much anticipated return of Senchenko featured in the main event of an open-air amateur MMA showcase on August 17 in the city of Kharkov. The 22-year-old veteran of 20+ bouts took on Ukrainian National Cup winner, Ivan Zinchenko, a tall and tricky southpaw.
Senchenko faced off against his national rival and avenged a previous loss to Zinchenko, taking victory in the return bout via a Darce Choke submission in the second round.
In 2018 Senchenko earned a bronze medal at the Ukraine National Championships before representing his country on the international IMMAF-WMMAA platform at the 2018 European Open in Bucharest, Romania. It was there that Senchenko announced himself as one the most formidable talents in the men’s lightweight division and showcased the depth of Ukraine’s amateur talent, winning the gold medal with four successive, dominating triumphs.
The 2018 European champion stormed into last year’s Unified World Championships as the hot favorite at 155lbs. The stone-faced standout blasted through his opening two opponents via TKO and submission, respectively, in a combined total of just 84 seconds. In what was a knife-edge quarter-final, Senchenko battled Ireland’s Lee Hammond to a split-decision, falling in favor of the Irishman, who tapped into sensational form to go on and claim the 2018 world title.
Due to injury, Senchenko remained out of action ever since the 2018 World Championships, which took place last November. Having undergone surgery and rehab, Senchenko’s return to the premier international amateur platform in 2019 was uncertain, as recently as the 2019 European Championships in June where he was unable to defend the continental crown. In his absence, it was Russia’s Salamat Isbulaev who earned the 2019 gold medal.
Senchenko’s latest victory over a prominent world level counterpart is a strong statement en route to this year’s IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships, taking place from 11-16 November in Manama, Bahrain, where Hammond – the Irish BJJ whizz – occupies the throne of the men’s lightweight division.
“The return was nice. As we can see, he is in shape and continues his preparation for the World Championships this year,” Anton Blank commented, Executive Director of the Ukraine MMA Federation.
By IMMAF.org lead writer, photographer: Jorden Curran