By Caoilte de Barra
In 2021, Tajikistan was one of the breakout nations, thriving across multiple divisions, however, had no entries in the Women’s divisions. At the MMA SuperCup, that all changed as Tajikistan had fighters competing in the women’s divisions for the first time in the federation’s history.
The MMA SuperCup required each team to have female athletes in their squad. One at flyweight and one at Bantamweight as well as the option of a substitute. Anisa Karimova and Shohona Ghozoeva created history as both represented their nation in the cage. Manizha Samadova was entered as a substitute but did not get to fight.
Karimova and Ghozoeva came up short against Bahrain’s Aieza Bertoso and Bianca Basilio, two top fighters within the IMMAF ranks. Despite not getting the win, Karimova, Ghozoeva and Samadova collectively stated how much representing Tajikistan meant to them.
“To represent Tajikistan, our Motherland abroad is our dream. It’s the first time for the Tajikistan Mixed Martial Arts Federation to involve the girls in a team because in the MMA SuperCup each team should have two females.”
“We were excited to compete with the best female athletes of the world. We have tested our skills and power with the best. It gave us a great experience.”
Each fighter put on a great display in their MMA debut and have certainly laid the foundations for more female athletes to come through and represent Tajikistan. They are confident that it will inspire others to get involved too.
“Of course, it will inspire other girls to be involved in MMA. MMA as a sport in Tajikistan has a short history. However, Tajikistan’s potential is rich because it has a long history of martial arts like Wrestling, Combat Sambo, Pankration, Boxing, Taekwon-Do etc. Mostly the young generation is involved in MMA. Now TAJMMAF is developing the MMA in Tajikistan by providing all the necessary conditions for the athletes and organizing competitions 4 times a year and bringing the best to IMMAF Championships.”
Each of them is aiming to fight at more IMMAF events. They are confident that a strong team will be at the next SuperCup.
“MMA is spreading all over the world at a fast speed. For us, as wrestlers, it is easy to move to MMA. It is a testing start for Tajik girls. Of course, we will participate in the next IMMAF events. And I believe in the next MMA SuperCup you will see another strong female team.”
Tajikistan’s had a major presence at IMMAF tournaments this past year. This milestone will be exciting for the year ahead as they enter women into more competitions and pursue even more success.
Photo Credit: @Photographer.mamod