The GAMMA European Championships 2022 is in the books. The Olympic Sports Palace had been transformed overnight leaving only one ring surrounded by lights and an impressive video wall which added to the excitement of the action. With five defending European champions and four World Champions stepping into the ring, it was always going to be an extremely competitive final day.
The spoils of the opening match went to Azerbaijan’s Yusif Aliyev who beat Ibrahim Ibrahim of Germany to become the first European Champion of the year in the men’s 56.7kg MMA category. Next up, defending Champion in the 65.8kg category, Petr Striz safely navigated his tricky final against Georgian Rapael Movsesiani to retain his title.
With the bouts coming in quick succession there was plenty of action for fans who had taken their seats early and they were duly rewarded when the first gold medal for the hosts was won by Elene Loladze in the 56.7kg Striking MMA contest. Loladze returned to the ring later to face defending European and World Champion Karolina Chlobuszewska. The Polish woman who was expected to win was stunned by the Georgian women early in their match, prompting Loladze to break into a celebratory local dance in the middle of the ring.
World Champion in the 61.2kg Striking MMA category Veronika Smolkova was next up as she began her quest to become European Champion in both categories. Carmen Lopez, her Spanish opponent from the semifinal of the MMA category yesterday was unable to prevent the impressive Slovak woman from securing her first European title. Smolkova was back in the ring a couple of hours later when she faced Natalie Trikalova from the Czech Republic. Showing little signs of the effects of the earlier contest, Smolkova was eventually declared the winner by the judges’ decision after the three rounds and became the second woman to win two gold medals in Tbilisi.
The hosts didn’t have too long to wait for more celebrations as Nika Gudushauri emerged victorious from his contest with German Rasul Davletmurzaev in the 61.2kg MMA category.
The sole athlete from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zejna Krantic had to watch patiently until today for her competition to start, but it was well worth the wait as she defeated Sofiia Bagishvili in the 52.2kg. She was back in action a short time later as she attempted to win her second title in the Striking MMA category. This time, her Czech opponent Veronika Zajicova proved too strong as she secured the Czech Republic’s second gold medal of the day.
One of the favourites to secure a double title was defending World Champion in the 65.8kg Striking MMA category, Joanna Walorska from Poland, who was up against Oleksandra Karasova from the Ukraine. The weight of expectation proved too much as the Ukrainian women secured the title. The two women would meet again in the final of the MMA category. Seeking amends for the earlier defeat, Walorksa started strongly but could not stop Karasova from winning again and being crowned double European Champion.
There was another surprise victory for Arturs Skabarnieks from Latvia in the heavyweight 120.2kg Striking MMA when he stopped defending European Champion David Zavoda from retaining his title.
The biggest noise of the session came during local man Luka Bregvadze’s match against Ferman Hasanov from Azerbaijan in the 83.9kg category. A powerful kick to the head knocked out Hasanov early in the contest sending the crowd into a frenzy. Bregvadze was swiftly hoisted onto the shoulders of his support team and draped with the Georgian flag as they wildly celebrated victory.
Not to be outdone by his brother, Nika Bregvadze won another gold medal for the hosts and joined the celebrations as he secured victory in the 83.9kg Striking MMA competition. The party atmosphere continued in the stadium when Nika Jakonia defeated countryman Giorgi Aptsiauri in their 70.3kg Striking contest.
Ukrainian Kyrylo Kolomiets was another one with aspirations of a double title at the start of the day. The defending champion in the 77.1kg MMA category had to face his semifinal opponent from the Striking MMA category Klim Gusyev first. The different category of their contest didn’t change the result as Kolomiets again emerged victorious. He was back in the ring to take on Georgian Sanan Alievi in the Striking MMA category for a shot at his second title. Despite plenty of home support for the Georgian man, he was unable to prevent the Ukrainian from taking the well-deserved double after a series of excellent matches over the three days of competition.
Germany who travelled to the Georgian capital with a small team did not go home empty handed as they won two gold medals. Dagdeviren Hamza was the first winner in the 65.8kg Striking MMA contest against Levani Tsiklauri from Georgia. He was joined on the top step of the podium by Adnan Omar who beat Italian Michele De Florio in their 93.0kg final.
The sixth gold medal of the championships for the Ukraine was won by Anatoli Oskin in the 56.7 Striking MMA competition. Oskin who came into these championships as defending champion in the MMA category lost in the first round but made amends when he defeated countryman Nikita Zelinskyi.
It was a successful event for the Slovaks as they finished third in the medal table. The gold medal won by Richard Dobrotka in the 61.2kg Striking MMA adding to the double gold of Smolkova. The final bout of the Championships saw Poland win their one and only gold medal when World Champion Iwo Baraniewski was victorious against Latvian Arturs Skabarnieks in the 120.2kg category.
“It has been a fantastic competition here in Tbilisi,” said GAMMA President Alexander Engelhardt. “We have seen top class performances and I want to congratulate all the athletes for their continued hard work in raising the standards of our sport. You are inspiring the next generation. The atmosphere here in Georgia has been fantastic, and that has a positive effect on us all.”