By Jorden Curran
The 2021 Youth MMA World Championships concluded last Sunday in Bulgaria with over 300 young athletes spanning 23 national teams, all welcomed by the IMMAF to the capital city of Sofia.
In 2019 it was Team USA who topped the World Championships medal table in Rome, claiming a whopping 28 medals, including 16 gold medal winning world champions, 9 silver medallists and 3 bronze medallists, within a team of 34 athletes. Under the USFL body, Team USA entered the 2019 championships with a strong reputation for activity and development of youth MMA competitors. Ukraine placed second in the 2019 medal table with a squad of 24 young talents, earning 7 gold medals, 6 silver and 3 bronze.
At the 2021 Youth World Championships, Ukraine more than tripled its overall youth team success in sensational fashion to snatch first place in the medal table, capturing a record setting 52 medals – 17 gold, 18 silver, 17 bronze. The increased level of competition saw the USA take third place with 6 world champions crowned and a total of 17 medals.
See link to the full list of medallists here.
Following the championships, USA coach Anthony Bivins took to social media to share a comment from his Ukraine counterpart, who revealed the motivating effects of Team USA’s 2019 dominance which inspired Ukraine to strive for first place in 2021:
The head of the Ukraine delegation offered me a drink and said: “ in 2019 you guys beat everyone and became world champions. If it wasn’t for what you did we wouldn’t have trained as hard to get better. Thank you!”
Ukraine’s gargantuan team of 68 athletes set its own record for the IMMAF Youth World Championships, and together with incredible displays of skill and ability demonstrates the rapidly growing commitment of nations towards youth in MMA, placing the nurturing of future generations at the forefront of the world’s “fastest growing sport”.
IMMAF youth bouts are contested across 3 age categories – Youth A 16-17s (U18), Youth B 14-15s (U16) and Youth C 12-13s (U14), each housing respective weight divisions. IMMAF Youth MMA rule sets disallow strikes head strikes for all under 18s and are modified from the IMMAF Amateur MMA Rules with regards to the physiological development.