2021 GAMMA World Champions Sandra Succar from Lebanon and Eljan Gassanov from Kazakhstan underlined their class as they added the Asian-Pacific titles to their list of achievements on a highly competitive final day of action at the 2022 GAMMA Asian-Pacific Championships in Pattaya, Thailand.
Kazakhstan lived up to its pre-event billing as favourites to finish top of the medals table by winning ten golds as part of their overall haul of 25 medals, finishing well clear of second placed Kyrgyzstan who won 6 gold medals and a total of 11.
With the final day of competition split into two sessions, the day started well for Kazakhstan as they won 6 of the 10 titles available in the first session. The opening victory went to Syrym Satyy in the 52.2kg category bout against Laki Weshi from India. It was a reverse of fortunes in the second match as India won their first title in the 70.3kg category contest when popular athlete Sumit Bhyan beat Kazakhstan’s Bakhtiyar Kassymov, and in doing so retained the Asian title that he won in 2021.
Kazakhstan won their second title during the third bout of the day via Manarbek Shaikhenov, before the 2021 World Champion Eljan Gassanov took on his countryman Nurkhan Zhumagazy in the first of four all-Kazakhstan contests. The world champion, who was the heavy favourite for the 77.1kg title, duly delivered and remains the outright global star of the 77.1kg weight category.
Kyrgyzstan’s Adis Uulu Taalaibiek beat Kazakhstan’s Islam Davranov in the 83.9kg contest to win their first title of the day, before teammate Farida Abdueva won the first of two titles when she emerged victorious in the 52.2kg striking contest against Polina Tumayeva before returning to the ring in the second session and defeating Madina Katyzina and securing the two gold medals.
All eyes were on the two world champions coming into the event, and with Gassanov earlier winning his match, the pressure was on Succar to try and do the same. She had to wait until the third bout in the second session before she had her chance in the ring, but the wait didn’t faze her, and she secured the title by beating Kazakhstan’s Meruyert Ibrayeva in their 65.8kg contest. Her performance clearly inspired her teammate, as two bouts later, compatriot Aurore Sahyoun secured the second gold medal for Lebanon when she defeated Desi Rahayu from Indonesia in the 72.6kg category.
With an expectant crowd waiting patiently to see their home stars in the final contests of the day, there was still time for other nations to attempt to secure their first titles. In the 56.7kg striking category, Aprilia Lumbantungkup from Indonesia silenced the crowds when she defeated Thai woman, Khemika Suwanchot and won Indonesia’s only title.
The final contest of the championships saw home favourite Suttharang Norachart take on Tath Lomdik from India in the 52.2kg striking category. This time the vocal crowds were brought to its feet as they celebrated wildly as Norachart secured the only gold medal of the championships for the host nation when beating That Lomdik in the first round, a fitting end to a great event.
With 10 nations returning home with at least one medal, including Australia, Japan, and Timor Leste, it was a great advert for MMA talent in the two regions.
During his closing speech, GAMMA President Alexander Engelhardt had one final duty, to announce the best athletes of the championships who would be rewarded with a ONE Lumpinee contract. Announcing the winners, Engelhardt said, “As the International Federation, it is our duty to give athletes opportunities to move to the next level. This has been a great event, thanks to everyone that has made it possible and the best wishes to all of you in your future careers.”
The best athletes of the event were awarded to:
Sandra Succar (Lebanon) 65.8kg category
Sumit Bhyan (India) 70.3kg category
Farida Abdueva (Kyrgyzstan) 52.2kg striking MMA category
Almaz Sarsembekov (Kazakhstan) 61.2kg striking MMA category