The 2023 GAMMA Oceania Championships is in the books and the event saw New Zealand coming out on top.
Day 1 of the event at the Due Drop Event Centre in the southern hemisphere greeted teams with a vibrant celebration of dance and music by the locals. The traditional haka performance set the tone for the challenging battles that awaited the participants in the ring.
The first day featured intense qualifying bouts, setting the stage for the 16 medal bouts on Day 2. The host nation dominated the medals table, clinching eight gold medals, closely followed by Australia with five and Samoa with three. The standout performers of the weekend were Moses Deng from Australia and Mackensie Vellenoweth, both securing double titles in MMA and Striking MMA in their respective weight categories.
Deng's journey to victory began in the 61.2kg category, defeating his compatriot Ryan Jankowski. Later in the day, he triumphed in the Striking MMA final against local fighter Waelin Kerekere, earning another gold medal. Kerekere settled for the silver medal in this match.
Vellenoweth created an upset by defeating the 2019 GAMMA World Champion Courtney Martin from Australia, claiming the gold medal in the 65.8kg MMA category. She continued her winning streak by defeating another Australian, Rebecca Mauger, in the striking MMA category.
The smaller nations also made their mark with gold medals for Samoa. Mac Papalii triumphed in the 120.2kg MMA category, defeating his teammate Vincent Pio. Elizabeth Faumuina secured the gold in the +72.6kg MMA category, overcoming Renata Kingi from New Zealand. Anthony Nansen claimed the gold in the +120.2kg Striking MMA category, defeating Billy Pohahau from Tonga. Tonga's team also returned home with two silver medals, courtesy of Pohahau and Waitangi Vimahi.
The event showcased a wonderful spirit and warm hospitality, reflecting the cultural essence of New Zealand. It provided a remarkable experience for all participants and served as a promising platform for the future development of MMA in Oceania.