The finals of the 2023 Pan American Championships produced a true rollercoaster of an event, with stunning KO’s, technical submissions, shocking upsets, and exhilarating comebacks.
At the start of the night, it appeared Mexico would be the frontrunner to top the medal table. Their Junior athletes were extremely impressive, claiming six out of the seven gold medals available. Of particular note was Diego Torres Rangel who built on his success at the 2022 IMMAF World Championships, submitting Colombia’s Brayam Mora Umbarila to claim gold at 170lbs.
Host nation Colombia also captured Junior gold. Men’s flyweight Oscar Andrade overcame his fellow countryman, Santiago Carreno Gomez via unanimous decision, taking home his nation’s only gold medal of the tournament.
As the Senior finals began, it was Teams USA and Brazil that began to catch up with Mexico. Brazil put on a number of sensational highlight reel finishes, as Josiane Oliveira landed a picture-perfect spinning back kick to the midriff of Daniela Galvis leading to the TKO stoppage.
Defending Pan American Strawweight champ Giulliany Perea also picked up an impressive win, submitting Mexico’s Jade Vazquez with a well-executed rear naked choke, whilst Ana Vitoria Diniz’s lightning-fast armbar will be played on her highlight reel for years to come.
However, whilst Brazil’s flashy wins drew the eye, Team USA slowly began to draw ahead. Adrian Ledezma submitted Ecuador’s Misael Mena with an extremely impressive modified guillotine, giving some indication as to the level of talent that the athletes in Team USA possess.
Up at Featherweight, Christian Ammons landed a perfect head kick on Arturo Castillejos, leading to the finished sequence, and a gold medal. Gloria Dacosta upset Brazil’s impressive run of form, finishing skilled Brazilian prospect Fernanda Guersone with strikes from top control.
Jake Christensen and Lester Batres were both involved in thrilling back-and-forths, taking on a pair of extremely talented opponents. Batres especially was forced to overcome huge adversity, rallying late in the fight to get the TKO stoppage.
The Dominican Republic’s Jose Andres Vilorio was able to catch Matheus Varuzzi with a first-round triangle submission in the Men’s Bantamweight division, securing a gold medal for his nation, whilst in the final fight of the night, Anthony Ramirez claimed gold for Puerto Rico.
Team USA ended the day with eight gold medals. Mexico, would finish strong, with Samantha Teutle Onate and Juan Jose Becerra Ramos picking up wins in the Senior bouts, leading their nation to equal USA with eight gold medals of their own.
Brazil would ultimately be left with four gold medals to their name, firmly placing them in third place.