Within the IMMAF landscape, the Ukrainian MMA Federation (MMAUKR) has established itself as one of the top nations at youth, junior and senior level, a remarkable feat.
Now, with the 2023 IMMAF Youth World Championships rapidly approaching, last year’s highest performing nation are poised to replicate their past successes.
The IMMAF Youth World Championships will once again be held in Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Arena. This will be the second year in a row, as part of the three-year hosting rights agreement between IMMAF and UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation.
The tournament will take place between 2-5 August, with the competition draw taking place on the 1st of August. Over the course of four days of competition, the youth athletes will compete under the IMMAF Youth MMA Rules for 12 to 13-year-olds (Youth C), 14 to 15-year-olds (Youth B) and 16 to 17-year-olds (Youth A).
At the 2022 IMMAF Youth World Championships, Ukraine’s athletes captured eight gold medals across Youth A, B and C categories. They would also claim an impressive 32 medals in total, snatching victory from the jaws of a very strong Team USA.
Mariia Klein, Oleksii Bolbochan, and Polina Kovyrnova, all representing Ukraine, were among those to become 2x Youth World Champs in 2022.
Klein and Kovyrnova have both registered to compete in the 2023 IMMAF Youth World Championships, where they will be placed in a position to make history, potentially becoming the first youth athletes to win three consecutive gold medals.
In the inaugural Youth Championships, which took place in 2019 in Rome, Italy, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Huliaiev won gold in the IMMAF Youth World Championships Youth A featherweight division.
Since then, Huliaiev has become one of Ukraine’s top athletes in IMMAF. Now competing at lightweight, he made the switch to junior competition, winning bronze in the 2021 IMMAF Junior World Cup. In 2022, Huliaiev built on this success, first capturing gold at the 2022 IMMAF European Championships and then taking home a coveted gold medal at the 2022 IMMAF World Championships.
Ukraine MMA National Team Manager, Anton Blank, had the following to say about Youth MMA, and how his nation will fare in the 2023 Youth World Championships:
“Youth MMA gives our children chances in life and hope, that there is something except war. We are bringing the biggest youth team again and they are prepared to become the best U18 team in the world for the third time.”
Ukraine is set to bring over 70 athletes to the 2023 IMMAF World Championships, including the aforementioned Mariia Klein and Polina Kovyrnova. With such a strong team, the nation seems destined to achieve great things once again.