Naga MMA fighters

Kohima: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters from Nagaland—Kekhrieneitso Angami, Longtsukumba Ao, and Arsenba Ozukum, who represented India at the GAMMA Asian MMA championship 2021 at Kyrgyzstan won two silvers and a bronze respectively.

Khriemelie Metha, head coach of ‘The Combat Academy’ in Dimapur where the Naga lads were training, confirmed with EastMojo about the development. The final bouts took place on Saturday and were also streamed live.

Kekhrieneitso Angami won silver in the lightweight category, Longtsukumba Ao won silver in the welterweight category, and Arsenba Ozukum won bronze in the flyweight category. Along with the trio, MMA fighters Mairidin Newmai and Limasunep also represented the country in the Championship which concluded on Saturday.

All the five MMA fighters, who made their international debut, are from The Combat Academy (TCA) in Dimapur. While Longtsukumba Ao has been training under it for five years now, it has already been three years for the rest of the MMA fighters.

“I am grateful to God for guiding me till here and although I came short in the finals, I am happy that I gave my all. No excuses, he was the better man. But I’ll be back stronger and better,” Longtsukumba Ao told EastMojo.

As he made his debut at the championship, and that too in a category that he has never fought before, Longtsukumba shares his experience. “I usually compete at Featherweight division (65kgs) but this is the first time that I fought at Welterweight (77kgs). On top of that there was added pressure since the Championship is an international event,” he said.

Despite the pressure, Longtsukumba was confident and sure of one thing—his competency. “As an athlete and as a competitor, I was prepared and confident in my abilities,” he said as he won silver at the Asian championship.

Metha, the head coach, told EastMojo that as Longtsukumba Ao and Kekhrieneitso Angami were both fighters in the same weight class, Longtsukumba decided to fight in the heavier weight. “It meant that two Naga boys would be up against each other. Of course, we don’t want them to be competing against each other. So he decided to fight at the heavier weight. He fought with a person who is 7 Kg (final bout) heavier than him,” Metha informed.

He said, “It is a proud moment. It is not something to brag about. the hard work recognises that they have put in”. As he watched the live bouts online from Nagaland, Metha shared that he was emotional and critical about the performances.

“I was not able to enjoy it as a spectator. I am more emotionally and professionally critical about them, and I wanted them to get the gold. But, I am very proud of them. They have put in their effort, gone out and showed it,” he added.

Metha informed that the MMA fighters would continue to work on “getting better every day” and would also prepare for the world championships, which will likely be conducted towards the year-end.

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