The Lithuanian Mixed Martial Arts Federation are aiming to impress in their maiden IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi.
Four athletes will represent the nation & although none of them have frequented IMMAF events, the athletes are no strangers to combat sports success.
Lijana Lipinskaitė featured at the 2021 IMMAF World Cup – Prague, in which she took a bronze medal. Heading into the World Championships she is hoping for a position even higher on the podium. She said: “Every practice requires a lot of effort, endurance, and psychological strength in preparation for the world championship. Pandemic didn’t bother me at all, because I’m a stubborn athlete and I have found ways to train at home.
“Even during the pandemic, there was no obstacle to continue my training for competitions and win: in Vilnius, Lithuania grappling championship where I won a belt and I also won first place in pankration competition. In my opinion, every athlete always wants to be a champion, because it’s the main goal for all of us. I have never considered that I’m better than other athletes, but I work really hard, always pursue my goals and give the best of myself for sport.“
Konstantin Moksin is the longest serving LMMAF member in the squad. He, alongside Lipinskaitė, competed at the World Cup. Moksin is very much looking forward to representing his nation in the pinnacle event of global amateur MMA. “I am intensively preparing for the world championship. I don’t feel that the pandemic would have much influence for it. I’ve been an athlete for many years, I became the MMA Champion of the Baltic countries three times. I am extremely glad and honoured to be a part of Lithuanian team in the World Championship, especially because it is our first time in such a big event. I wish to inspire younger fighters to keep working hard and reach the best results in MMA world.”
Tomas Markus finds himself in arguably one of the toughest divisions in the tournament. The Welterweight division contains the likes of Jovidon Mahmudov, Murad Guseinov and IMMAF pound for pound number 1 Ramazan Gitinov in the ranks. Markus feels the experience will be invaluable to his development and is looking forward to potentially testing himself against the best in the world: “I feel prepared for the championship. It is difficult to do more training than usual and to take more care of my diet but it’s definitely worth it. I am a Lithuanian MMA Champion of the year 2019.
“I wish to show high quality technique and intense fights with my opponents to become more experienced and to enjoy being a part of this event.”
Danielius Grebliunas has also been crowned champion at the Lithuania MMA Championship & now finds himself in a packed Middleweight division. Having already secured several national championships, Grebliunas has a World Championship gold medal on his mind. “I started to prepare intensively 6 weeks prior to our trip to Abu Dhabi. I feel calm, keep trying to work on the technique and concentrate for the championship. Last year I performed very well in Lithuanian tournaments: became world champion of grappling, champion of Lithuanian Pakration and the champion of open Lithuanian MMA Championship. I always aspire to be the best, so this time I also wish to do everything to become a champion.”
Due to Covid restrictions, the athletes have had to adapt their training. After overcoming these hurdles, the Federation believes they are in a position to make a statement. As Deimantė Smirnovaitė explained,they believe medals are not outside the realms of possibility.
She said: “2021 actually was a tough year cause due to COVID restrictions there were periods when we could not organise our regular trainings, so the athletes had to keep training individually or at home. Beside all the difficulties we believe that our athletes are ready and well prepared for the world championship.
“We are glad to have an opportunity to take part in this championship. We hope to show beautiful fights, gain experience and wish to get at least two medals for our team.”