Senior Female Athlete of The Year Nominee: Gase Sanita (2019 Amateur MMA Awards)

Gase Sanita cemented her legacy last year on the international IMMAF platform. As the most formidable product of the New Zealand national team, she set herself apart as the most successful woman in World Championships history, equally the two-time gold medalist record.

At the 2018 World Championships, Sanita became the first woman to earn a second gold medal at the IMMAF World Championships to continue her reign from 2017. She joins the iconic list of two-time world champions and pioneers of amateur MMA’s premier level, alongside Jose Torres (USA), Will Starks (USA), Irman Smajic (Sweden) and Delyan Georgiev (Bulgaria.) Sanita reigned for two years as the powerhouse of the women’s lightweight division.

Sanita’s 2017 showing displayed impressive boxing savvy, working hard as the shorter athlete bullying her way to the inside with great effect. While her 2018 campaign saw less striking exchanges, her evident physical strength was ever prominent and truly menacing as she forced back-to-back first round submission stoppages in the semi-finals and final.

Taking on Chinese striker Yudan Bao, the Kiwi world champion remained busy as the pair exchanged fists. Sanita controlled the distance with level changes and speed before clinching. Sanita’s strength was unanswered as she utilized the body lock to methodically walk Bao across the cage to the fence before hoisting Bao into the air for a high-crotch takedown. From there, double hooks set up the rear-naked-choke submission with forceful hip pressure leaving Bao no choice but to tap with her feet.

Sanita faced towering Russian
Polina Kobzeva in the 2018 World Championships final

The strength of Sanita’s clinch-game and submission application was showcased once more, in the World Championships final against towering Russian Polina Kobzeva. Sanita ducked under the early barrage of strikes to secure double under-hooks followed by an outside trip takedown.

While Kobzeva maintained a half-guard, it was no match for Sanita’s pressure. Despite the Russian’s defense, Sanita adjusted her posture to secure an arm-triangle choke with incredible effectiveness, enough to render Kobzeva unconscious.

2018 World Championships: Women’s Lightweight medalists

At age 29 Sanita turned professional earlier this year having continued to blaze the trail for Team Zealand, who since 2016 have maintained their place within the World Championships finals producing gold medalists successively since 2016.

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) host the 2019 Amateur MMA Awards on Thursday 14 November during the 2019 IMMAF | WMMAA Unified World Championships in Manama.

Senior Female Athlete of The Year nominations include:

• Nina Back (Sweden)
2018 World Championships: silver
2019 European Open: silver

• Alish Smith (Australia)
2019 Oceania Open: gold
2019 Asian Open: gold

 Gase Sanita (New Zealand)
2018 World Championships: gold

• Alexandra Kovacs (Hungary)
2018 World Championships: gold

By lead writer/photographer: Jorden Curran

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