By Joe Price
Today marked the first day of competition at the IMMAF Youth MMA World Championships with the Youth C category of fighters, aged 12-13 years old. There were different ways to find winners today, with some fights being settled by a round-robin format, where the medal-winners were determined after each fighter had faced one another. There was also the traditional qualification method that saw our fighters make it to the knockout stages of the competition and compete in a semi-final and final.
After a day full of incredibly skilled fighters showcasing both their talent as well as great sportsmanship along the way, here’s what happened on day one.
MEN’S YOUTH C 31 KG (68 LBS)
IMMAF’s lightest male category of the day, 31kg, saw Ukrainian Ivan Shemeniev claim gold, going undefeated with two brilliant wins from his two fights. His fellow countryman, Anton Panasiuk, claimed silver after his win against Saood Salman from Bahrain. Salman deservedly walked away with a bronze.
WOMEN’S YOUTH C 34 KG (75 LBS)
Our first female competitors saw a 34kg meeting between two Ukrainian fighters in Albina Demidova and Tetiana Khanenko. The two fighters represented their country wonderfully in a contest where Demidova claimed the gold, with Khanenko taking the silver medal.
MEN’S YOUTH C 34 KG (75 LBS)
Onto the under 34kg males next, where Russian Arseniy Cherniak tasted victory twice in both of his two bouts to get a gold medal, and his country’s first medal of the day. Fellow Russian, Makar Zaitsev, was also able to join the winners circle when he won his contest against Ukrainian Nikita Romaniuk to claim the silver medal. A well-deserved bronze for Romaniuk who represented his nation brilliantly during the event.
MEN’S YOUTH C 37 KG (82 LBS)
It was Mikhail Nazarenko from Russia who stood out in the 37kg male competition, with a flawless round-robin record of four wins from four to give Russia another gold medal. A strong set of performances from Denis Purbuev saw him produce a similar record to his Russian compatriot, with three wins and one loss being good enough to take silver. Ukrainian Zakhar Filoniuk competed excellently to get a couple of wins under his belt to get joint-bronze. The bronze also being shared with Aleksandar Delchev; who represented the host nation of Bulgaria brilliantly with his performances. Adnan Hankeer sadly just missed out on a medal, but did Lebanon proud.
WOMEN’S YOUTH C 40 KG (88 LBS)
An all-Ukraine affair witnessed Polina Kovyrnova get the gold by beating Valentyna Khanenko in a closely fought contest between these two talented girls.
MEN’S YOUTH C 40 KG (88 LBS)
Ismoil Zainiddinov, representing Tajikistan, fought hard during the initial stages of the competition to enter the semifinals with a record of two wins and one loss. Facing him in the last four was Ukraine’s Yehor Tarasenko, who shared the same record as the Tajikistani.
Zainiddinov started the semifinal well, shooting for the single leg straight away and finding himself attacking the back of Tarasenko. After some scrambling on the ground, Tarasenko reversed proceedings to find his opponents back this time instead. After a stalemate, the referee stood the fighters up to restart the action. Tarasenko quickly adjusted to turn Zainiddinov’s takedown attempt into an anaconda choke. With a little adjustment, the hold resulted in a submission via a modified front headlock choke which saw Tarasenko go through to the final.
In the other semifinal, Ukraine’s Dmytro Dotsin entered the semifinal with an earlier group stage record of three wins from three. His opponent was in the form of Edwin Petrea, a Romanian fighter who had come through with two wins from his three fights.
Dotsin was very quick to shoot from the off, which saw Petrea use his hips well to sprawl and defend the takedown attempt on more than one occasion. With the two fighters getting back to their feet, Dotsin took the initiative by continuing to look for takedown control. The fight ended with both fighters working hard in a battle of takedown offense against takedown defense, with Dotsin getting his hand raised and moving on to the final.
The final saw another yellow and blue final, with both Dmytro Dotsin and Yehor Tarasenko representing Ukraine. Dotsin started th final with some sharp kicks and feints to keep his opponent guessing. With both fighters engaging in the scramble, a game of chess ensued for the majority of the fight. After a high-caliber grappling exchange from both, Dotsin’s aggressive nature just edged the contest as he claimed the gold medal. Tarasenko claimed the silver with every reason to be proud of his performance.
MEN’S YOUTH C 44 KG (97 LBS)
With his impressive four wins from four, Maxim Pinigin won Russia a gold medal at 44kg. Vladyslav Hadirov came second in the round-robin format to get a silver medal for Ukraine. More medals for Ukraine again, as Daniil Besarab shared a bronze with America’s Adam Troy Maldonado Jr.
WOMEN’S YOUTH C 44 KG (97 LBS)
Ukraine’s Kira Voliashchenko won three of her fights to finish top of her 44kg category and win gold. Estonia could be proud of Jesenia Steklova as she fought her way to a silver medal. A tie for bronze, as Ekaterina Ericheva of Russia, and Liubov Karaush from Ukraine, both finished joint-third.
WOMEN’S YOUTH C 48 KG (106 LBS)
The semifinal of the female’s 48kg category kicked off with Ireland’s Olivia Babiarz facing Kristina Morozova from Russia. Barbiarz had won both of her fights to get to this stage, as Morozova had suffered one loss on her way to the semi’s.
Ireland had spent the entirety of the event being very vocal in the support of their athletes, and nothing changed here. Babiarz started with her strong kicking game, until Morozova timed one of her opponents kick to perfection and was able to take her down. Babiarz managed to get back to her feet and defend the takedown well, however found herself trapped in an armbar from Morozova. The Russian continued to work well from her back, and forced Babiarz to tap and claim the submission win.
USA’s Lariah Gill faced Sofiia Filimonova from Ukraine in the last four. Mimicking the first semifinal for the 48kg females; Gill was a semi-finalist without a loss during her day up until this point, as Filimonova had suffered one loss on her journey.
Gill had been very impressive from her back during the entirety of the competition so far, and she followed that trend in this fight. After absorbing some pressure from Filiminova, via kicks and grappling pressure, Gill found the opportunity to strike from the canvas with a kimura that her opponent could not escape. A submission win for the American.
The final was a very quick affair. Kristina Morozova quickly got her opponent, America’s Lariah Gill, to the ground. Typically, whilst on her back, Gill managed to find the opportunity to use her frame and threaten with an armbar. Although Morozova showed plenty of will, Gill continued to work the angle of the submission and won gold for USA. Morozova claiming silver after a good day of performances from her.
MEN’S YOUTH C 48 KG (106 LBS)
Illia Konko of Ukraine faced USA’s Uriel Cruz in the first semi-final of the 48kg males. Konko had produced a tremendous set of performances earlier on in the day with his three wins from three. Cruz showing what he can do too with his impressive record of two wins and one loss.
Cruz looked to start the brightest by throwing some strikes at Konko’s body. With Konko forcing a takedown, Cruz did his best to work an armbar before both fighters found their way back to their feet. After engaging in a scramble, Konko found himself on top mount and able to find an armbar opportunity. Persistence from Cruz sadly was not enough, as the American was forced to tap and see Konko claim the win by submission.
USA had another representative in the final four, with Elijah Nehme facing off against Ukraine’s Dmytro Lysiuk. Lysiuk had suffered one loss along his road to a meeting with Nehme, with the American having three wins from three coming into this one.
Nehme tried to continue with his fast starts and apply pressure early to Lysiuk. After a short exchange in the scramble, both fighters produced a quality show of strikes to each other’s bodies. Once the two fighters clinched, Nehme produced a very nice roll to end up on top after a successful takedown attempt. This proved to be enough for Nehme as he applied pressure until the very end to go through to the final.
Illia Konko looked to make it two wins in a row against an American opponent as he faced Elijah Nehme in the final. Nehme came out quickly, attempting to drive his opponent back. Konko made attempts to reverse the pressure and almost tied up an armbar submission if not for Nehme reacting quickly. Nehme worked his way back to top mount and was able to dominate the proceedings from there. The ability to negate any swing in momentum from Nehme saw him get the gold for USA by decision. Konko had silver to show for his brilliant tournament.
WOMEN’S YOUTH C 52 KG (115 LBS)
A perfect win record for Ukraine’s Kateryna Tsarenko meant her two wins from two were worth a gold medal after a great day of action in the 52kg group. With one win and one loss, Tatiana Zheltoukhova earned a silver medal for Russia. Darina Sadich represented Ukraine tremendously on her way to a bronze medal.
MEN’S YOUTH C 52 KG (115 LBS)
Three wins from three saw Slovakian Miroslav Malyncek enter this semi-final confidently against a very skilled Ukrainian fighter in Oleksii Bolbochan.
Mlyncek started well with a very accurate Teep kick to his opponent’s midriff. Bolbochan defended himself well and found the chance to take his opponent down and claim his back. From here, Bolbochan was able to take his neck as they rolled and produce a very impressive rear-naked choke early in the round.
The Russian pairing of Gevorg Ambartsumian and Afanasii Noskov made up this fight. Ambartsumian had only suffered one loss, whilst Noskov was yet to lose at all as they entered the cage. Immediately, Noskov attacked with an early spinning kick, followed by another. During the second attempt, Ambartsumian attacked the back of Noskov, but a scramble saw both fighters return to their feet. The fight developed down onto the ground, and Noskov passed the legs into full mount and locked in a submission from a figure-four position. This meant Noskov moved into the final, still undefeated.
The final saw Afanasii Noskov of Russia, take on Ukraine’s Oleksii Bolbochan. With Noskov yet to lose, he was seemingly a slight favourite for the gold. Noskov started by throwing some good kicks that forced Bolbochan to close the distance and grapple. Bolbochan persisted in his pursuit of the single leg against the cage, but they eventually broke. Noskov produced a nice Teep kick that provoked Bolbochan into driving his opponent back toward the fence. With Noskov in top mount from this position, Bolbochan continued to work at the kimura opportunity he had. With desperate defending on show from Noskov, Bolbochan eventually forced his opponent to tap and earn himself the gold medal.
MEN’S YOUTH C 57 KG (126 LBS)
Adam Omarov produced a day of well-rounded performances as he won gold for Russia with four wins from four. Aleksandr Tyatov gave Russia another medal after winning two of his fights and getting a silver medal for his efforts. Ukraine’s Yurii Tykhonov and America’s Sebastian Olivencia-Grafals both finished with a bronze medal each.
WOMEN’S YOUTH C 57 KG (126 LBS)
In a straight shootout final at 57kg, Russia’s Karolina Gorodilova won the gold after beating Eva Byzhenko of Ukraine.
MEN’S YOUTH C 62 KG
Anton Burian had won both of his fights as the Ukrainian came up against Ireland’s Ben harding. Harding had lost one of his fights during the day, but looked in confident mood at the start of the fight. The Irishman produced some good kicks, and thwarted a takedown attempt from Burian. The Ukrainian continued to search for the takedown but found himself on the bottom of a scrambling exchange. The wrestling match continued until the end, with Harding ending the fight the strongest. With the Irishman seeming adamant he had won the fight, there was a shocked look on his face when Burian had his hand raised after a stronger start to the bout. A very close fight indeed.
The second semi-final was between undefeated Ukrainian Ivan Berdysh, with two wins from his two fights, and Saveliy Ivashkin. Ivashkin, the Russian representative, had lost one fight on his way to the last four, and had performed well throughout the competition.
The fight was a very quick contest however, as Ivashkin shot for a takedown immediately. This attempt was halted by Berdysh who worked his way on top, and maneuvered his way into a position he could lock in a triangle choke. This ended the contest at just over a minute, and saw Berdysh make the finals via a submission win.
Ivan Berdysh and Anton Burian both represented Ukraine in the last final of the day. With both fighters working hard against the cage, Burian found his back pushed up against the perimeter. Berdysh continued to apply pressure, and produced a hip toss to advance into side control on the ground. Burian managed to take top mount, before Berdysh work a triangle position from the bottom. With the triangle choke in place, Berdysh rolled on top, and provided the pressure to make Burian tap. A gold for Berdysh and a silver for Burian in this all-Ukrainian final.
You can watch the event LIVE via IMMAF.TV at this link.