After a sensational start to the GAMMA European Championships in Kyiv, Ukraine yesterday, it was the women’s turn to shine today with tickets to the finals on the line at the Palace of Sports.
Nadiia Honcharova of the Ukraine got things under way with a TKO over Mariami Torchinava of Georgia in the -56.7 kg/-125 lbs Elite Female MMA division. Honcharova will face Poland’s Karolina Chlobuszewska in tomorrow’s final.
Chlobuszewska made quick work of her semifinal opponent Sandra Fernandez Rivas of Spain, forcing a submission just two minutes into the first round.
In an all-Ukraine semifinal of the -61.2 kg/-135 lbs Elite Female MMA division, Tetiana Liashuk eked out a decision over Liudmyla Iliuk, with neither athlete able to assert dominance in the match.
Liashuk, who will square off against Spain’s Leovigilda Gutierrez Lozada in the final, thanked her coaches and support team for helping her secure today’s victory.
“We had perfect preparations for this fight as we had a three-month training camp because of the rescheduling of the event,” Liashuk said. “Having the European Championships is a very big deal for the popularity of female MMA in the Ukraine. Usually, female athletes in Ukraine compete in other countries and it goes a bit unnoticed. So now that it is here, people have the opportunity to come and watch and cheer us on – it is huge to increase awareness of the sport.”
It has been a solid showing from Team Ukraine at the European Championships, with no fewer than 17 athletes competing for gold tomorrow.
One of those will be Daryna Tishchenko, who beat Iryna Bashkirova in the +72.6 kg/+160 lbs Elite Female MMA division to advance to the finals against Poland’s Lara Fornal.
Athletes also competed today in Striking MMA, a new discipline introduced by GAMMA that prohibits ground fighting. As such, it is considered the perfect gateway into traditional MMA for athletes looking to transition from purely striking styles such as boxing, kickboxing and muaythai.
The first Striking MMA competitor to book a spot in tomorrow’s finals was another
Ukrainian, Nazarii Bedrii, who won a unanimous decision over Imran Abbasguliyev of Azerbaijan in a tightly contested semifinal of the -70.3 kg/-155 lbs Elite Men’s Striking MMA division.
While Abbasguliyev was on the front foot for the majority of the match, it was Bedrii who landed the most significant blows throughout to earn the nod from the judges.
“My first fight [against Adam Krol of the Czech Republic earlier in the day] was very fast but this one was really even,” said Bedrii. “My opponent was a really tough guy and it wasn’t easy at all but fortunately I was able to win, and I am really happy that I advanced to the final.”
“I am very happy that these championships are in my home country. It was supposed to
be in Georgia and we were training for there but then when we found out was moved to the Ukraine due to COVID it gave us some additional energy because we are in front of our home crowd and it gives us a boost and additional motivation.”
Bedrii will face Bilol Abdurasulov, Latvia’s sole participant at these Championships, in the finals after he overcame Alberto Dominguez Sierra of Spain in the division’s other semifinal.
In a battle of the heavyweights, Soslan Gaseivi of Georgia came out swinging early against Ukrainian Stanislav Khmylkovskyi, but the local favourite kept his composure before reciprocating the punches, which were too much for the big Georgian to handle. Khmylkovskyi will take on Poland’s Iwo Baraniewski in the finals of the + 93,0 kg/+ 205 lbs Elite Men’s division tomorrow.
The finals are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. local time tomorrow, 9 November.