ABU DHABI: The Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City has been transformed into a festive environment today as it hosts the fourth edition of the IMMAF Youth World Championships.
The mixed martial arts competition is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. It will see athletes aged 12 to 13 take to the octagon on the opening day.
“Mubadala Arena is fully prepared to host the prestigious IMMAF Youth World Championships. The participating athletes are undergoing final training, honing their skills for the ultimate showdown,” said Mohammed bin Dalmouj Al-Dhaheri, board member of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation and chairman of the federation’s Mixed Martial Arts Committee.
“As the event is being hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation for the second consecutive year, we have spared no effort in creating a distinctive and welcoming atmosphere for all participating athletes and delegations, showcasing Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading destination for international sporting events,” Al-Dhaheri added.
Al-Dhaheri also expressed his confidence in the UAE national team. “We have full faith in our national team to perform exceptionally well and win medals,” he said.
“Our athletes have been preparing diligently for the championship in the past few months and are determined to give their best performance. They are well aware of the responsibility placed on their shoulders and are committed to raising the UAE flag high.”
Abdulla Al-Darmaki, a UAE national team member participating in the 44-kg division, said: “In the past few months, we have been preparing diligently to take part in this championship. During the course of the training, we have focused on enhancing both our mental and physical strength, prioritizing areas where we needed to improve.
“My fellow national team members and I are fully determined and ready to shine. I carry the pride of our nation, with my sole aim being to bring home a glorious medal. The preparations are over, and now it’s time to showcase our mettle to the world and raise the UAE flag high.”
The four-day championship, running until Aug. 5, will see a record-breaking 636 athletes from 45 countries participating, ensuring a showcase of world-class MMA.
Christian Alvarez is a coach with the US national team, and he has been taking his team to the IMMAF Youth World Championships for the last three years.
“It’s been an awesome experience to accompany the team to the World Championships,” he said. “We have been doing everything needed to get ready for the championship, training four hours every single day. Last year, we ended up in the second position, and this year I am sure we can finish first. The competition is getting better, everybody is learning, and all other countries are moving up. We have 40 athletes participating, and I hope we can do well and finish on top.”
Meanwhile Bridget Costner, a US athlete fighting in the competition, said: “Last year, I was here in Abu Dhabi taking part in the MMA Youth World Championship, and I won third place, which was great, but this time I want to do even better and win first place. I am really looking forward to that.”
Andrii Vykliuk, a Ukrainian athlete, wants to win a gold medal. “I am participating in the IMMAF Youth World Championships for the first time, and I am so excited to be here. I am really impressed by the hospitality.”
“It’s so good to see so many MMA athletes from around the world, and it’s really helpful to interact with them and learn so many things. I have won the medal at the Ukrainian national championship earlier, and I hope I can repeat my medal-winning performance and win a medal here,” he added.