Russian MMA Union Announces Plans for Women’s MMA Development

By lead writer: Jorden Curran

The Russian MMA Union recently announced that new steps have been taken to actively develop home grown amateur talent among women.

Until now, the sole focus of the government regulatory body has been in men’s MMA, and with world leading success as tens-of-thousands of athletes compete across the nation each year in a bid to reach the national championship finals, in what is the world’s most extensive domestic competition circuit for amateur mixed martial artists.

“For the first time, women will take part in the Russian MMA Championship,” Radmir Gabdullin announced, President of the Russian MMA Union. National finals set to take place from 2-6 May in Moscow.

He added, “One of the main areas of work of the united international federation (IMMAF – WMMAA) is the way to recognize MMA as an Olympic movement. To follow the Olympic Charter, one of the criteria of which is gender parity of sports. Therefore our task is to create in Russia training and competitive conditions for female athletes.

Women have previously competed for Russia on the international amateur platform, and have earned medals to boot. At the 2016 IMMAF European Open, the MMA Federation of Russia (counterpart to the Russian MMA Union) dispatched strawweight competitor Svetlana Kotova, who was awarded bronze after a semi-final defeat to former IMMAF World and European Open champion, Alexandra Toncheva.

Kotova returned for the historic IMMAF – WMMAA Unified World Championships in 2018, as Russia produced a combined national team for the first time under both the Russian MMA Union and Russian MMA Federation with record breaking success.

Above: Kotova is overcome with emotion upon making history for women’s MMA in Russia

This time competing in the new women’s atomweight division, Kotova made history as the first Russian woman to win a bout at the amateur world championships, after battling to a unanimous decision triumph and securing a bronze medal over Ireland’s Aeilish O’Hanlon. In addition, lightweight standout Polina Kobzeva earned the women’s 155lb silver medal, making history as the first woman to represent Russia in the finals of the amateur world championships.

Above: Kobzeva (left) faced off against New Zealand’s eventual gold medalist and two-time world champion, Gase Sanita

Gabdullin expressed high expectations for further international success under the Russian flag, as the new initiative gathers momentum. He cited, “We have a lot of athletes in Russia who can claim the world championship.”

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