Kickboxer turned Mixed Martial Artist Ayesha Dacunha has the chance to test herself against the world’s best when she travels to Rome for the Youth Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) World Championships in August.
The current Club Doncaster Sports College student, who only took up MMA as her preferred sport 12 months ago, will represent Team UK alongside four of her fellow club mates from The Unit MMA in Rossington.
Having been involved in combat sports since the age of five, the now 17-year-old is looking forward to representing her country against some of the best young talent in the sport. She said: “I’m really happy to have made the team.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, the target is to bring home a medal, but I have a lot of work to do before I can start thinking about that.”
“This is the first ever youth world champs, so I feel honoured to get the opportunity to take part.”
After an intense Team UK trial in Stockport three months ago, Ayesha has continued to balance both her studies at the Sports College and her rigorous training routine, which sees her train six days a week.
The flyweight fighter recently gained her black belt, and with her final College exam out of the way for the year, she knows she can now fully focus on her training.
This is made easier by the fact that her family run the MMA gym in Rossington, whilst her brothers and sisters also fight. A love of combat sports runs in the family, with her older sister set to make her MMA debut at Caged Steel in Sheffield next month. She said: “The support I receive from my family means so much to me.
“I have older brothers and sisters who have been fighting for years, so I’m following in their footsteps. My step-dad and brother have been with me every step of the way and are coming with me to Rome as my coaches.
Ayesha not only receives support from her friends and family, but also the staff at the Sports College itself, which she says have been understanding of her circumstances.
She said: “I’ve loved studying here at the College, everyone has been really supportive. My brother came here five years ago and only has good things to say about it.
“Because of my schedule, there have been times when I’ve felt run down and tired due to training. However, the tutors have worked closely with me, allowing me to keep pursuing my MMA dream.”
With MMA becoming more mainstream in recent years, it may not be long until it is considered for Olympic recognition.
Ayesha sees the possibility of a full-time career in MMA over the horizon, with the prospect of being an Olympian motivating the young fighter.
She added: “MMA at the Olympics would be fantastic if it ever gets to that stage. The whole sport is brilliant for fitness and learning new skills.
“Self-defence is a really helpful skill for anyone to learn, especially people my age.”
The World Championships in Rome is self-funded, so The Unit MMA team have created a Go Fund Me to raise the funds to send all five fighters to Italy. With £1,685 having been raised to date, the fighters already have one foot in Rome. To find out more, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-unit-mma-funding.