Southern hemisphere athletes making their mark in GAMMA World Championships © GAMMA

As the doors opened at the Mall Lifestore Ngamwongwan on Friday morning (8 December) in Bangkok, Thailand, few would have been expecting to find the multipurpose MCC hall transformed into a world class sporting venue and alive with MMA athletes ready to battle for The Global Association of Mixed Martial Arts  (GAMMA) World Championship glory.

Countries from all five continents are represented by more than 300 athletes who will compete in MMA and Striking MMA disciplines over the next three days.

The lead-up to the competition was marked by two busy preparation days, featuring weigh-ins, the official draw, and the World Congress of GAMMA, before the start of an action packed first day of competition with 120 bouts taking place across three rings.

After a vibrant parade of nations and inspiring speeches from GAMMA President Alexander Engelhardt and Vice-President of the IFSA, Achilleus Ralli, the championships officially commenced.

The opening bouts saw some fantastic performances, with southern hemisphere athletes making their mark. Australia's Joshua Green triumphed over local hopeful Kantabantit Natchanon in ring one, while New Zealand's Tyrel Karaka secured victory against Daro Toeur from Cambodia in the Striking MMA 70.3kg category in ring two. Indonesia's Jimmy Stif Menda launched his campaign for glory by overcoming Frenchman Idir Benchihk in the 61.2kg Striking MMA competition in ring three.

The rest of the day was dedicated to the quest for qualification, as athletes aimed to secure a spot in the following two days and a chance to win a coveted medal. 

With another 100 bouts scheduled for day 2 and the start of the ladies competition, it will surely be another highly competitive and entertaining day.