When the first day of the 2022 GAMMA Asian-Pacific Championships ended earlier today in Pattaya, Thailand, Kazakhstan once again showed their dominance at these continental championships with only two of the twelve athletes who were in action failing to progress to the next round.
The day began with a glamorous opening ceremony emceed by the IFSA Vice President Achilleus Ralli. He took the opportunity to thank the authorities and the sponsors of the event before welcoming representatives from each of the participating nations and introducing the judges and referees.
Before a demonstration of local combat moves in the ring, GAMMA President Alexander Engelhardt took to the stage to officially open the event. “I would like to thank the IFSA and the city of Pattaya for having us and providing great opportunities for our sport and our athletes. It is great to be together again as the GAMMA family here and I see a great future for MMA in Thailand, especially as the IFSA has just been recognised by the Sport Authority of Thailand. Not everyone can win, but we can all enjoy this great event. I wish you all an excellent Championships.”
It was a busy day of action at the Asian Indoor Stadium with 28 matches on the card which got underway with Japanese athlete Nara Shinichi taking on Samat Zhumaliev from Kyrgyzstan in the 77.1kg category. This was the first time any Japanese athlete had taken part in a GAMMA event and although he was unable to overcome his opponent on this occasion, his compatriot Kenshiro Yamazaki did progress in his 56.7kg Striking MMA bout later in the day, winning in impressive style using a guillotine choke.
Victories over athletes from Kazakhstan were hard to come by, but that didn’t stop the home crowd having plenty to cheer about when Sirirot Sinchaitan (65.8kg), Nattawut Kaewkhanchum (56.7kg) and Chayanon Phothijun (77.1kg) all secured victories in their respective opening rounds keeping medal hopes alive.
Known for their vocal support, once likened to Liverpool football club fans, there was plenty to cheer about for the large traveling delegation from Kazakhstan who enjoyed lots of success on the opening day of these championships. Having finished top of the medals table at the 2021 Asian-Championships, their athletes were determined to attempt the same feat this time around.
With the stadium looking fantastic and the opening matches taking place in two rings, all attention for the enthusiastic crowd was switched to the main ring for the afternoon session.
Almaz Sarsembekov began the winning streak for Kazazh athletes when he defeated Ali Laiqat in their 61.2kg Striking MMA match. This was quickly followed by victory for Yernaz Mussabek over Nisham Sonam from India in their 56.7kg contest and Nurkesh Anas in his match against another Indian athlete, Sankar Vairamurthy Prabu in the 77.1kg Striking MMA category. Another who safely progressed to the next round in his 77.1kg match was 2021 World Champion Eljan Gassanov who will be looking to add the continental title to his list of accolades.
Following the final entries and the tournament draw, there are a total of 21 medals up for grabs. In addition to hosts Thailand, Kazakhstan and Japan, athletes from India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Australia, who are another nation competing at these continental Championships for the first time, will be hoping to continue their positive starts and secure a place in Sunday’s finals when then compete again tomorrow.
For the full results of the first day of competition and other Asian-Pacific Championships information, click here.
Action on Day 2 tomorrow gets underway from 11:00 local time (05:00 CET) with the start of women’s competition. All the bouts are being shown live in Thailand on Truesport 2 and streamed live globally on GAMMA’s Facebook and YouTube channels.