Abu Dhabi: The UAE national team put on a stellar performance to secure four medals on the opening day as the fourth IMMAF Youth World Championships got off to a colourful start at the Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City.
The four-day event, organised by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation and hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation, will continue until August 5, with a record of 636 athletes from 45 countries participating.
The opening day showcased thrilling contests in the Youth C (12-13 years) division, highlighting the exceptional skills and determination of young MMA athletes from around the world.
Aisha Alhammadi gave a strong start to Team UAE, capturing silver in the Women/Youth C/57kg division. She was soon joined on the podium by Saif Alblooshi, who scooped gold in the Men/Youth C/40kg category. Rakan Alyammahi (Men/Youth C/34kg) won Silver, and Sara Alzarooni (Women/Youth C/40kg) and secured bronze.
Brigadier 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, 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 organising 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.
“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,” Al Dhaheri added.
“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.”
Densign White MBE, CEO of IMMAF, expressed his enthusiasm for the remarkable start of the IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi and applauded the passion and dedication of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation in developing and promoting the sport of MMA.
“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 stepping stone 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,” White added.
Saif Alblooshi, who secured the gold medal in the Youth C/40kg division, dedicated his victory to the leadership of the UAE. He 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 honour to my country. MMA is a wonderful sport, and I am delighted to be a part of it.”
Aisha AlHammadi, the UAE national team player in the Youth C 57kg division, expressed her great happiness at winning the silver medal after defeating the players from Azerbaijan and India. “I was looking forward to winning the first place, but thank God I achieved the second place and the silver medal. In the future, I will strive for the first place, and the important thing is that I raised the UAE flag on the podium,” she said.
Alexis Mariscal, of the USA, who won first place in the Youth C/52kg division, said: “I was very nervous, to be very 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 August 3, with Youth B athletes taking centre stage, and the Youth A category on Friday and Saturday.