By James Sweetnam
The grand opening of the UFC’s newest GUM club took place on Saturday, December 18, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The promotion’s champion, Valentina Shevchenko, made a special guest appearance at the event to celebrate the historic occasion. ‘The Bullet’ gladly posed for pictures with fans as she endorsed the club that will help develop the next wave of Kyrgyz fighters. The gym is the first of its kind in Central Asia and will undoubtedly be taken advantage of by athletes from all over the region.
In addition to meeting one of the best pound-for-pound martial artists on the planet, the MMA enthusiasts in attendance also had the opportunity to see the facilities and speak to the head coach of the Busek MMA Federation, Ilyar Bakiev.
The new gym is officially partnered with Pankration Kyrgyzstan, which is affiliated with IMMAF. Therefore in the coming years, it is likely that we’ll be seeing a massive growth in the participation of Kyrgyz athletes at all the major amateur tournaments.
In the past, the sport was dominated by America and Brazil. But over the last decade, the landscape of MMA has completely changed. We’re seeing the emergence of superstars from completely different parts of the world.
The little known Russian Republic of Dagestan has produced a plethora of amazing fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev, whilst the continent of Africa has crowned three champions within the same amount of years. Therefore, it is likely that there will be another surge of talent in an unexpected part of the planet, and Kyrgyzstan could fit the bill.
Shevchenko put her country on the map by becoming the nation’s first-ever UFC champion. But she isn’t the only elite-level competitor from her homeland to take the world by storm.
In addition to the flyweight star, Rafael Fiziev has put together a promising run in the premier promotion’s lightweight division. Furthermore, Kamrian Abbasov has excited One Championship fans with his incredible displays of high level striking and grappling.
The level of quality in Kyrgyzstan is improving at a rapid rate. This means that if they can utilise their new gym to its maximum potential, it’s possible that the small mountainous country could become one of the biggest power-players in the entire sport.