ABU DHABI: The fourth IMMAF Youth World Championships got off to a strong start when the UAE team claimed four medals at the Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City.
The four-day event, organized by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation and hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation, will continue until Aug. 5, with a record 636 athletes from 45 countries participating.
The opening day showcased contests in the Youth C (12 to 13 years old) division featuring young MMA athletes from around the world.
The UAE national team had a successful first day, securing four medals.
Aisha Alhammadi gave Team UAE an ideal start by capturing silver in the women/youth C/57 kg division. She was soon joined on the podium by Saif Alblooshi, who scooped gold in the men/youth C/40 kg category.
Rakan Alyammahi (men/youth C/34 kg) won silver, and Sara Alzarooni (women/youth C/40 kg) secured bronze, making the hosts look strong.
Mohammed bin Dalmouj Al-Dhaheri, board member of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation and chairman of the federation’s MMA committee, said: “Hosting the IMMAF Youth World Championships for the second consecutive year has firmly contributed to solidifying Abu Dhabi’s position as the global MMA capital.
“The UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation takes pride in organizing this prestigious tournament at par with international standards.
“By bringing together the finest young talents from across the globe, we showcase our dedication to hosting world-class events and provide a platform for these remarkable athletes to compete.”
Al-Dhaheri praised the performances of the young Emirati athletes.
“As we witness these exceptional athletes display their incredible skills and unwavering determination, their passion for the sport becomes a source of inspiration for us all.
“This championship not only highlights the future stars of MMA but also reinforces Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading destination for international sporting events.
“I am immensely proud of our UAE national team for their brilliant performance, and I believe that their exemplary display will motivate aspiring athletes to further embrace the sport of MMA and raise the UAE flag high,” he added.
Densign White, CEO of the IMMAF, highlighted the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s efforts in developing and promoting the sport of MMA.
He said: “It is with great pleasure and admiration that I witness the remarkable start of the IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi. The first day’s contests were brimmed with excitement and sportsmanship, showcasing the remarkable talent of young athletes.
“It showcases how the championships serve as a vital steppingstone for the future stars of MMA, and I am excited to see how this championship will inspire and shape the next generation of athletes.
“Together, we are paving the way for the bright future of mixed martial arts on the global scale,” he added.
Gold winner Alblooshi said: “I am thankful to our wise leaders and wholeheartedly dedicate this achievement to them, along with my coach, my family, and everyone who supported me throughout this journey.
“I faced two strong opponents, one from Ukraine and another from Tajikistan, and emerged victorious. My rigorous training was aimed at reaching the podium and bringing honor to my country. MMA is a wonderful sport, and I am delighted to be a part of it.”
Alexis Mariscal, of the US, who came first in the youth C/52 kg division, said: “I was very nervous, to be honest, but it turned out to be really fun, and I enjoyed competing here. I feel so happy, as all my efforts didn’t go in vain.
“This place is so awesome, and I’m so happy to be part of this championship where I got to meet a lot of people and make many friends.”
The competitions will continue on Thursday, when youth B athletes take center stage, with the youth A category taking place on Friday and Saturday.