First pro MMA event to be held in Việt Nam

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World muay champion Nguyễn Trần Duy Nhất will take part in the MMA Lion Championship, which begins on June 10. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — The 2022 Việt Nam Lion Championship, a mixed martial arts (MMA) tournament, will lure the participation of local competitors as well as international fighters over the next six months in what will be the first professional MMA competition ever held in Việt Nam.

“More than 120 competitors have registered to participate in the championship,” Mai Thanh Ba, general secretary of the Việt Nam Mixed Martial Arts Federation (VMMAF), said at a press on June 3 in Hà Nội.

“Many of them are international and national athletes. Among them is eight-time world muay champion Nguyễn Trần Duy Nhất and Warriors For Charity winner Trần Quang Lộc, who is the first Vietnamese martial artist invited to compete in the prestigious ONE Championship.”

At the briefing, Nhất, who has just won a gold medal at the 31st SEA Games, said: “I want to test myself in this arena. (Besides muay) I have practised jujitsu to have the best preparation for this event.

“I will target the highest position in my category and hope MMA will strongly develop in Việt Nam. I want people to understand clearer about MMA, which is a sport to improve our fitness.”

The tournament will also see the participation of SEA Games kickboxing winner Nguyễn Thị Hằng Nga and judo champion Nguyễn Thị Hường.

International competitors include Aleksei Filonenko from Ukraine and Cashwell Chelsey of the US.

Athletes will compete in three women’s weight classes ranging from 52kg to 60kg, and six men’s categories from 56kg to 84kg.

The qualifications will be held from June 10-12 at the Cầu Giấy Gymnasium in Hà Nội for athletes of the northern region; from June 17-19 at the Tiên Sơn Sports Complex in Đà Nẵng City for those in the Central and Central Highlands areas; and from July 8-10 at the HCM City’s Rạch Miễu Gymnasium for fighters in the South.

The quarter-finals will be organised on September 9-11, while the semi-finals will be on October 22-23, with venues being confirmed later.

The finals will be held on Phú Quốc Island, Kiên Giang Province, in January 2023.

Athletes will compete in three three-minute rounds in qualification, and three five-minute rounds in the quarters and semis. There will be five five-minute rounds in the finals.

After qualification, all athletes will enjoy cash bonuses ranging from VNĐ3-10 million (US$130-430) depending on their status in the tournament.

The championship winners will receive winning belts and VNĐ200 million, while the second-placed fighters will pocket VNĐ40 million.

The event, co-organised by the VMMAF and the Việt Nam Mixed Martial Arts Joinstock Company, will review the practice process and abilities of club athletes nationwide.

The competition is also to assess the quality of referees, staff and organising activities, which are essential elements to improve tournament management and ensure professional quality.

The VMMAF is also expected to send Vietnamese representatives to international tournaments in the roles of organising staff and fighters. VNS

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