An interview with MMAUKR Vice-president, Anton Blank, by Sophie Mueller.
Since 2012, governing body MMA Ukraine (MMAUKR) has gained recognition from its Sports Ministry, as the only organisation in the Ukraine mandated to develop the sport of MMA. Currently the organisation has more than 200 member clubs.
“The federation has national status. There is a representative office in each region of the country, which is engaged in the development of MMA in its region: These are responsible for opening gyms and organising tournaments and events, as well as bringing athletes to all-Ukrainian competitions,” says Vice-president for Regional Development of the Eastern Region, Anton Blank.
The Ukrainian federation holds its general meeting at the end of each year: “At it, we sum up the results of the outgoing year, award the best athletes, coaches, judges, heads of regional federations and our partners. The last meeting was held in January. In addition to the awarding ceremony, new vice-presidents were elected to the Federation Presidium.”
President Oleg Gennadyevich Rozhkevich has been elected for a ten-year term, which extends to vice-presidents and honorary presidents. Four vice-presidents were the last to join the board in January: Sergey Samoilenko, Igor Gergelyuk, Mikhail Smolka and Anton Blank.
Speaking of the federation’s activity in organising MMA competitions, Blank details, “We hold the Ukrainian National Championship for participants of all ages, the Cup of Ukraine, as well as open regional cups and championships. The last all-Ukrainian event was the Ukrainian Cup in December.”
At that event, winners are selected for the national team to represent Ukraine on the international stage, while the second and third places become alternates.
In the wake of COVID19, MMAUKR’s current goals are to resume their regular tournaments as well as launching a permanent professional league.
Blank comments: “This will allow athletes who have completed their amateur career to move into the professional league, increasing the recognition of MMA among the population of the country. For this, we are working with media resources, authorities and law enforcement agencies. We already held the first championship among law enforcement agencies in June this year.”
With the support of its sports ministry, local authorities in the region and a good infrastructure, MMAUKR has held preparatory camps for the Ukrainian national team in several cities of the country. They invited a range of coaches to exchange experience with the head coach of the national team, themselves and with the athletes. MMAUKR has a number of qualified judges and has completely reformed the competition and judging system.
“Several of our judges were trained and certified by Mark Goddard and gained practice at the IMMAF World and European Championships,” testifies Blank. “They have since organised judicial seminars in every major city in the country.”
Blank equally describes refereeing by MMAUKR’s officials as “the highest quality among all mixed martial arts organisations in the territory of Ukraine”.
Due to this, MMAUKR’s officials are invited to work across professional MMA, professional combat sambo, “free-fighting” and Cossacks’ fighting.
When asked about their proudest achievements, Blank comments, “Our biggest organisational achievements are the reform of judging and the management of competitions according to IMMAF standards. In terms of sporting achievements, these are the gold medals won at the IMMAF-WMMAA world championships by female competitors, Daria Samchyk and Anastasia Svetkivska, as well as Svetkivska’s gold at the European Championships. Among the men, this would be the European gold medal won by Pavel Senchenko, as well as the gold medals from the World and European Championships of Ata Atdaev.”