By Caoilte de Barra
On July 23 – 24, the MMA League of Ukraine held its national championships. At the end of June, the sports ministry in Ukraine permitted national federations to host national championships again. MMA became the first sport to do so.
The two-day tournament took place in the city of Mukachevo and determined the national team which will represent Ukraine at the 2022 European and World Championships. Two seminars were held in the days leading up to the event. On July 21, Alexander Lunga led a judging seminar, and the following day, a cutman seminar was run under the stewardship of Roman Reznikov.
The championships had categories open for juniors (18-20) and seniors (21+). Once underway, the competition was streamed live on the federation’s YouTube channel and is available to watch back.
2021 world silver medalist Ivan Pasych was in action in the junior bantamweight division and took home gold. 2021 world cup winner Ivan Kurelaru solidified his spot as the top lightweight, overcoming Dmytro Kovalchuk in the final.
In the women’s divisions, the Skuba sisters both became national champions of their respective divisions. Marianna took senior featherweight gold while Ioanna defeated Anastasia Koida to secure junior strawweight gold.
At the end of the tournament, performance bonuses of 20,000 Ukrainian Hryvnia were awarded to three athletes; Kryvanych Yaroslav, Kovalenko Oleksandr, and Gorodnyuk Oleksandr. Overall, twenty-one national champions were crowned at the competition. A full list of medalists from the event is available here.
Upon the conclusion of the national championships, President Anton Blank explained the story behind the national championships. He said:
“At the end of June, the Ministry of sports gave permission for the national federations to organise national championships. We decided to be first. And the only time for our tournament was July. Because in August we have the Youth World Championships and in September, the European Championships. So, we didn’t have much time to prepare. We decided to organise it in Transkarpatia, in the city of Mukachevo, as this region is the closest to the European border. The head of the regional federation, Alexander Shavrov immediately agreed and did everything for this championship to happen.”
He went on to explain how important the event was for the people of Ukraine.
“It was not just a National Championship, it was a real holiday. A lot of soldiers came from the war to take part in the tournament. We think that organising tournaments and the development of sport is very important. Because people of Ukraine, their children and athletes need to see not only war but some hope that there is and will be other life.”
The MMA League of Ukraine is currently preparing the youth team for the 2022 Youth World Championships. Last year they took home fifty-two medals and topped the medal. And they hope to enjoy similar success in Abu Dhabi before planning for the European Championships the following month.