By Caoilte de Barra
The Uruguayan Association of Mixed Martial Arts is set to send their first-ever team to an IMMAF competition at the 2022 Pan American Championships. Founded in 2017, the UAMMA were confirmed members last year, one year after they received government recognition.
The federation has been making strides this year and recently hosted its first-ever official National Championships. Next on the agenda is to try and win gold at the Pan American Championships. The three athletes selected to represent Uruguay are:
Jimena Osorio [Strawweight]
Cristian Sanchez [Welterweight]
Emeliano Gonda [Middleweight]
The team of three has a strong background in striking, with each of them representing Uruguay in Muay Thai on previous occasions. Each athlete was also recognised as the best in their weight class by the federation for 2022.
First up is Jimena Osorio, who will be competing in the strawweight division. She is undefeated in her MMA career to date and has been thriving on the regional scene, becoming the IDC amateur champion. The 32-year-old does not only have experience in Muay Thai, but she is also a green belt in Shinseikai Karate.
Competing in the stacked middleweight division is Emiliano Gonda, one of the most experienced martial artists on the team. He comes from a Muay Thai background and is ranked nationally. When competing in Muay Thai, he was selected for the national team and became the 75kg WMF Pan American Champion.
Along with his striking credentials, Gonda has been training BJJ for over three years and is a BJJ blue belt. Given his competitive experience, Gonda may be one to watch in the middleweight division. Five other competitors will join him in the division as Gonda looks to become a two-sport Pan American Champion.
Lastly, we have Cristian Sanchez, another athlete with a striking pedigree stemming from his Muay Thai experience. This will be his first time competing in MMA internationally. However, he has represented Uruguay at the 2018 WMO World Championships. The 24-year-old will face stiff competition in a competitive welterweight division.
Team Coach Santiago Gallo explains he has rarely seen talent like the athletes representing Uruguay and is confident the athletes can secure gold.
“The Uruguayan team for the Pan Americans is ready!” He said. “For the first time in the history of Uruguayan MMA, a select group of talented athletes in different categories will represent the famous “charrúa claw” in a Pan American IMMAF tournament.
“They are training hard with a common goal: to show that Uruguay is not only a champion in football and can also be in mixed martial arts. These athletes have a strong national and international amateur experience.”
“Uruguay is going to make people talk, I am sure. I have a lot of faith in these young people. They are highly trained and are complete and determined. Rarely have I seen amateurs like this. They have great chances of being champions in their categories. It might be our first time, but we are not rookies in this. It is an honour to accompany them.”
Photo Credit: @Asolysomra.ph