Ukraine Duo Reflect on IMMAF World Championships Gold Medals

The Ukraine amateur MMA team impressed once again at the IMMAF | WMMAA Amateur MMA World Championships, taking 4th place in the senior medal table for the second year in a row.

While 2018 women’s strawweight champion Daria Samchik and light-heavyweight contender Dima Ruzhytskyi each picked up bronze medals, it was men’s flyweight Ata Atdayev and women’s strawweight Anastasiya Svetkivska who earned gold medals for the country.

Interestingly, 21-year-old Atdayev and Svetkivska, also 21, journeyed on near identical paths to claiming the world title. In 2018 both athletes were on the receiving end of their first losses, yet both would progress to represent the Ukraine national team and win gold at the 2019 IMMAF | WMMAA European Open Championships.

At the European Open in Rome last June, Svetkivska would best the UK’s Marie Spencer and Germany’s Clara Danssmann before upsetting Swedish world silver medalist Nina Back in the final. Meanwhile, Atdayev bounced back from his world championships defeat to complete an exhausting quartet of back-to-back unanimous decision wins against opposition from Finland, the Republic of Ireland and Spain before overcoming the highly touted Suleyman Bershigadov of the formidable Russian national team.

The international outing served valuable experience to the Ukraine duo, who had shown promise yet encountered international rivals of greater experience. Upon addressing the reality, the young hopefuls bounced back with great effect in 2019. “My first loss in Europe helped me understand at what level I could perform and what I could show,” Svetkivska explained. “After returning home, I finalized my areas which lagged behind and confidently, no doubt claimed victory.”

At last week’s World Championships, Svetkivska collected four wins including three arm-bar submissions, stopping the momentum of Malaysia’s Asian Open champion Colleen Augustin during the semi-finals. In the gold medal decider she defeated Australia’s Olivia Ukmar with a second round arm-bar submission, avenging teammate and former world champion Daria Samchik who Ukmar defeated earlier in the tournament.

Having retained the strawweight gold medal for her country, Svetkivska summarized her experienced and what it means for her to represent the official Ukraine national team with over 400 athletes and 50 nations contesting the 2019 IMMAF World Championships: “The tournament was really hard and long, emotionally exhausting. The most difficult fight for me was the first (Nurzhamal Sadykova – Kazakhstan), because the most important thing is to start well, but the rival gave me a decent competition.

2019 Women’s Strawweight medalists, left to right: Olivia Ukmar (silver), Anastasiya Svetkivska (gold), Colleen Augustin (bronze), Daria Samchik (bronze), alongside IMMAF director Bertrand Amoussou (far left)

“I think my finale was one of the best,”Svetkivska commented, “I showed a good and thoughtful strategy, worked carefully and outplayed my opponent.”

For Atdayev’s World Championships campaign, he defeated Finland’s David Pajunen for a second time before forcing a TKO stoppage over Frenchman Antony Fresno Eyssette.

It was in the World semi-finals when Atdayev solidified himself as the flyweight division’s next big thing, taking a unanimous decision triumph over Russia’s defending world champion, Ruslan Satiev. The Ukrainian went on to triumph in the final over the USA’s Israel Galvan.

Atdayev launches a high kick against Galvan.
2019 Men’s Flyweight medalists, from left to right: Israel Galvan (silver), Ata Atdayev (gold),
Yernaz Mussabek (bronze), Ruslan Satiev (bronze).

After the tournament Atdayev expressed that he was determined to be the first Ukrainian men’s contender to win gold at the World Championships.

He added: “Thanks to our national team coaches Rasul Ibalaev and Anton Blank, we have become stronger. My trainer Rasul and I dismantled it and in the final it was like a reading a book for us. When we raised our hands, it was the most significant and happy day.”

“It is very important and a big responsibility for me to represent Ukraine in the international arena, because I want my country to be talked about as a leader among leaders,” Svetkivska stated. Ukraine now occupies 5th place in the senior world team rankings.

See full lists of Junior and Senior medalists and medal table HERE.

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

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