The formalities of the day began with a Parade of Nations as part of the opening ceremony, featuring athletes from all the 14 participating countries who were led into the arena by local children: Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine.
“Seeing many of you returning to these Championships after competing last year is a positive sign that our sport is growing in the right way, and the value that these Championships have for you all,” said GAMMA President Alexander Engelhardt during his welcome speech. “Thank you to our hosts the Georgian Federation for welcoming us to your great country for these Championships. I have no doubt that over the next three days we will see enjoy some excellent competition and that the spirit of our sport will be on display to the world.”
Welcome speeches were also delivered by President of the Georgian MMA Federation Gia Chiragisvili and David Shvelidze who is managing the overall event delivery for the organisers in Tbilisi.
The energy levels in the arena were brought to new heights when a group of local dancers from renowned group Shara Band delivered a high-octane performance which included a mix of cultural and combative elements before the athletes took to the ring.
With athletes competing concurrently in two rings, the first bouts of the day happened in quick succession. Honours in the opening contests went to Italian Jimi Tchintcharauli who defeated Patrik Sebek from Slovakia in the 77.1kg Men’s MMA category in ring one, while Ivan Kozhechenkov from Latvia was given the decision over Richard Dobrotka from Slovakia in the 61.2kg category in ring two.
It wasn’t long before the hosts got their first win of the Championships when Giorgi Gogotchuri emerged victorious from the second bout of the day in ring two against Emrah Sevinc from Turkey in the 70.3kg MMA category.
Commenting after his victory Gogotchuri said, “It felt very good to be the first winner from Georgia. I am very proud with this victory, and I want to win this competition to make the whole country proud.”
After a short break in the programme, the second session of the day belonged to the defending champions.
The opening contest saw Gogotchuri back in the ring competing in his second match of the day, his quarterfinal against the defending champion Anatoli Zhurakivskyi from the Ukraine. With Zhurakivskyi fresh from his first-round bye, he forced Gogotchuri into submission early in the match, ending the local man’s quest for glory.
Not to be outdone by Zhurakivskyi’s victory, fellow countryman and 2021 European Champion Kyrylo Kolomiets started the defense of his title successfully against Lukas Soroka from Slovakia in the 77.1kg category, joining 65.8kg category defending champion Peter Striz from Germany who qualified for his semifinal earlier in the day.
The Striking MMA category athletes brought a busy day of action to a close with Zhurakivskyi again in the ring, this time defeating Alexander Mrabet from Spain, as he continues his campaign to become champion in the two disciplines. The final bout of the night brought joy to the local crowd as Giorgi Aptsiauri won his match and will join his teammate Nika Jakonia in their respective 70.3kg semifinals tomorrow.
For the full results of the first day of competition and other European Championships information, click here.