Athletes from eight countries won medals at the GAMMA Asian MMA Championship 2021 today, but it was GAMMA Kazakhstan that claimed the lion’s share, taking home 14 gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze medals in total.
With 22 athletes in the gold-medal matches, Team Kazakhstan came in to the third and final day of competition in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan preparing for a medal parade.
They did not disappoint.
The march began early and continued until the final bout, which saw heavyweight Duman Balmukhanov defeat Kyrgyzstan’s Nursultan Tailakov in the -93.0 kg/ -205 lbs Elite Men’s MMA final.
Tailakov had the upper hand in striking throughout the final, but it was Balmukhanov who had more tools in his arsenal, which seemed to tip the judges in his favor. It was a fitting finale to a superb day of elite-level amateur MMA.
India’s Kishor Kumar kicked things off, winning the first ever gold medal in Striking MMA, a new discipline developed by GAMMA that allows for take downs but prohibits ground and pound. The discipline is considered the perfect gateway for athletes looking to transition into traditional mixed martial arts (MMA) from purely striking styles such as boxing, kickboxing and muaythai.
Kumar’s opponent in the final of the -52.2 kg/ -115 lbs Elite Men’s division was Kazakhstan’s Alikhan Tolegenov, who battled gamely to the end despite being dropped to the canvas twice in the second round by two perfectly executed rights from Kumar that ultimately won him the match.
Team Kazakhstan picked up its first gold when Alisher Kakimov TKO’d Aleksandr Kononenko of Kyrgyzstan in the first round of the -61.2 kg/ -135 lbs Elite Men’s Striking MMA final.
That was followed by Kazakhstan’s Tomiris Zhussupova becoming the first woman to win Striking MMA gold, outlasting India’s Akshata Khadtare in a tightly contested -52.2 kg/ -115 lbs Elite Women’s Striking MMA final.
Hosts Kyrgyzstan started the day off slow, but got on a roll midway through, eventually settling for 6 gold medals in total, the last won by Murtazali Magomedov in the -70.3 kg/ -155 lbs Elite Men’s MMA division.
Magomedov won in dominant fashion, raining rights on Sumit Bhyan after he had pinned the GAMMA India athlete to the ground. It was a well-deserved win for Magomedov, and he left the ring to a roar of approval from the home crowd.
The hosts finished the event with 4 gold, 6 silver and 10 bronze medals.
Deducted a point for an illegal knee in the second round may have cost Uson Uulu Murzabek of Kyrgyzstan the gold in the -56.7 kg/ -125 lbs Elite Men’s MMA final, as he lost by decision in an extremely close match with Dinesh Naorem of India. The two athletes threw everything they had at each other, the advantage swinging back and forth throughout a riveting encounter.
In the -47.6 kg/ -105 lbs Elite Women’s MMA final, Akshata Khadtare of GAMMA India made quick work of Uzbekistan’s Munira Abdullaeva, taking the victory in the first round with a well-executed choke hold.
Thailand claimed it’s one and only medal at the Asian Championship when Noelle Grandjean forced India’s Samata Sonavane to tap out just a minute into their -52.2 kg/ -115 lbs Elite Women’s MMA final.
In one of the more entertaining bouts of the day, GAMMA Palestine’s Yazan Jaber edged GAMMA India’s Longtsukumba Ao by decision in a tightly contested match where both athletes left everything in the ring.
They also brought some showmanship to the ring, with each taunting the other periodically throughout. Longtsukumba had the upper hand with his fists while Jaber got the better of his opponent with his kicks and knees. The result could have gone either way, but in the end it was Jaber who got the nod from the judges, becoming GAMMA Champion in the -77.1 kg/ -170 lbs Elite Men’s Striking MMA.
The full medals table follows:
In other important news from the final day, GAMMA announced that it had signed an agreement with the country of Georgia to stage the GAMMA European MMA Championship 2021 in the country from 5-10 October. The Championship was initially scheduled to take place in Lamia, Greece but was moved to avoid putting any further strain on the local authorities currently battling with the fallout from the wildfires in the country.
“The signing with Georgia reflects the excellent progress being made by GAMMA to solidify amateur MMA’s stature globally while guaranteeing a prosperous future for the sport. We are excited to be headed to Georgia, which has long had a great passion for mixed martial arts,” said GAMMA President Alex Engelhardt. “I would also like to thank our friends in Greece for their understanding. We are disappointed the Championship could not take place there this year but we are confident we will be back as soon as the circumstances allow it. We send them all our best during this challenging time.”
Finally, in an exhibition match between two Kyrgyzstan social media influencers, Bakyt Makeev looked well on his way to victory before letting his emotions get the better of him, unleashing a series of illegal strikes to the back of Osmonov Askat’s head that saw him disqualified.