By Frank Bonada
The opening day of the 2023 IMMAF Asian Championships commenced with the Youth B and C age brackets, setting the stage for an exciting showcase of amateur mixed martial arts in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The show stealers of the day were undeniably Team UAE, following their highly successful Youth World Championships earlier in the year. The multiple returning athletes from the United Arab Emirates demonstrated their prowess once again, making an instant impact on the competition.
Ghala Al Hammadi, an unsung star from the 2023 IMMAF Youth World Championships, marked her presence by clinching her second IMMAF gold medal of the year. Utilizing her slick submission skills, she forced Marvarid Kamilova (Uzbekistan) to tap out to a rear-naked choke early in the first round. Notably, Ghala, alongside her sister Zamzam, had previously made history as Team UAE’s first female champions at the 2023 Youth World Championships. With Ghala securing Youth B gold, and Zamzam poised to compete in the Youth A bracket on Day 2, the Al Hammadi sisters continue to solidify their status as future stars in the realm of mixed martial arts.
While Ghala Al Hammadi showcased remarkable skills, Saif Alblooshi emerged as another standout from the UAE. A grappling phenom in the Youth B category, Alblooshi swiftly dispatched Sauod Ebrahim (Bahrain), securing victory with his signature armbar and adding another IMMAF gold medal to his accolades.
The day witnessed a historic moment for the Indian MMA federation as Kavin Kopperunko became the nation’s first-ever Youth Champion. Despite fielding only two athletes, both Kopperunko and Ayan Akef secured gold, a remarkable achievement for Team India. With Zaid Shabir and Labeeb Feroz gearing up for Youth A competition on Day 2, Team India aims to maintain its winning momentum.
Although the host nation Bahrain fell short of securing gold, the nation will still hold a respectable place on the medals table, having showcased several commendable performances, capturing four silver and five bronze medals. Kazakhstan and Lebanon also left a lasting impression, each claiming a gold medal in the Youth B category, while Tajikistan and Uzbekistan mirrored their success in the Youth C category.
Day 2 of the 2023 IMMAF Asian Championships will see the Youth A athletes take the center stage, with the likes of Zamzam Al Hammadi and Jassem Abdullah Alhosani set to feature on Asia’s biggest amateur MMA stage. Watch the whole event live at IMMAF.TV.