By Frank Bonada
On the final day of the 2023 IMMAF Asian Championships, the next wave of Asia’s mixed martial artists faced off for the honour of claiming an IMMAF continental title.
IMMAF record breaker Gadzhi Gadzhiev (Bahrain), a standout competitor across Youth, Junior, and Senior divisions, showcased his prowess once again. In the Senior Light Heavyweight Finals, he swiftly submitted Khushnud Abdurakhmonov (Uzbekistan) with a deep armbar early into the bout.
Gadzhiev’s fellow countrymen, Mahammat Hissein and Gimbat Magomedov, also captured gold for the host nation. Hissein landed a perfect teep kick to the midsection of Shahab Ali (Pakistan), forcing the referee to step in, while a slick combination of strikes saw Magomedov drop Ali Marhoon (Bahrain) to the canvas.
Uzbekistan lived up to expectations, claiming an impressive 10 medals across Junior and Senior brackets. Mukhlisa Nabijonova, Mukhriddin Elkuziev, and Amirkhon Kudratillaev delivered highlight-reel performances, and Sarvarbek Hasanov’s slick grappling saw him cinch an upset TKO victory from the jaws of defeat.
Kazakhstan emerged as a standout team, with Yerulan Kabdulov and Adel Makhametova earning the title of two-time IMMAF Asian Champions with a pair of stellar performances.
Following in the footsteps of his brother Hazem, Jordan’s Zaki Kayyali claimed victory in the opening bout of the day. Kayyali sunk in a slick submission to force the tap from Mikaeel Shukri (Iraq), capturing the Junior featherweight title.
In one of the day’s most anticipated bouts, Saudi Arabia’s emerging star, Malik Basahel, faced off with one of India’s top IMMAF athletes, Mahboob Khan. Despite Khan’s impressive resume, Basahel dominated, securing a swift rear-naked choke for the submission victory.
Making history, Lebanon celebrated as Sylvie Samaha became the nation’s first female athlete to clinch gold at an IMMAF Asian Championships. Taking on Natalya Kadirova of Uzbekistan, Samaha exhibited relentless striking from top control, forcing a TKO finish. With this dominant victory, Samaha became the 2023 IMMAF Asian Senior Atomweight Champion, and an inspiration to the next generation of Lebanese martial artists.