GAMMA's 2024 European Championships is held in Slovakia from 12-20 May. GAMMA

Among the thirty-five athletes that the Czechia MMA Association sent to neighbouring Slovakia this week for GAMMA’s 2024 European Championships is returning medallist Veronika Zajicova. The Global Association of Mixed Martial Arts (GAMMA) sat down with the 52.2kg prospect to talk about her career. 

Zajicova placed third in her GAMMA debut in 2020 and went on to win European gold and bronze medals in Striking MMA and MMA in 2022. She ranked #5 in the GAMMA worlds that same year, and was awarded Sportsperson of the Year for the Moravian-Silesian region, as well as the City of Krnov.

GAMMA asked the Opava native on the popularity of MMA in her country and how she finds training and opportunities in the sport.

"I think MMA is still just developing here. You can train in the bigger cities. However, training is often linked to other disciplines such as boxing. MMA is often an additional discipline or alternates with other combat sports classes. The problem is also the lack of professional trainers who can provide daily training, but there is high-quality training available in cities such as Prague or Bratislava. That is why I now live partly in Bratislava, where I train at OFA Bratislava. I get to train here every day and several times a day, so I can't complain." she tells GAMMA.

The 20-year-old spoke of how she found her path to MMA

"At first I devoted myself to dancing. But I didn’t really enjoy it because too much of it was about too girly arguments. Then I started boxing because my parents wanted me to be able to defend myself in life. After that, when I started going to competitions, I started to enjoy it a lot. After a while, I tried MMA. This excited me because it is far more complex and interesting than boxing. There are a lot of possible endings. One has to think ahead a lot. Like in chess. Well, nowadays I practice a lot of combat sports because I use it all as preparation for MMA. I do a lot of grappling, also boxing, kickboxing, oriental boxing, kick-light, point-fighting and so on." Zajicova said.

Zajicova is a decorated athlete in combat sports; including national champion in boxing in 2017 and 2020 and a national silver medallist in 2022. Since her last GAMMA appearance, the prospect collected two gold medals in 2023, in the Lowkick Czech Championship and Czech Championship in K1. 

Meanwhile triumphs in grappling have seen her pick up a no-Gi silver and Gi-bronze in the IGF World Championships, a No-Gi silver at ADCC in Paris and, at national championships level in 2023, a No-Gi gold (Czech Republic), and a No-Gi gold and Gi silver (Israel).

The strawweight athlete talks about her life outside training and competing. 

"It's not easy at all. In addition to training, I am still doing high school. I travel often between my home, where I’m at school, and Bratislava, where my gym is. I also help my parents in their business." she recounts. 

"Last year I 'fought my way' to the finals of Miss Czech Republic, so I became interested in modelling. Otherwise, I really like animals. At home I have several dogs, ponies, lambs, a turtle, guinea pigs, hamsters… And when I have free time, I like to spend it with my little brother and my friends." she told GAMMA.

Zajicova also recalled some of the biggest challenges she’s had to go through.

"Probably the biggest obstacle was when I was run over by a car about three years ago. I had to learn to walk again, train, play sports… I think MMA helped me the most back then. I knew I wanted to be back in the ring, in the cage, that I wanted to win and that I wanted to achieve my goals. To win. Win in GAMMA, RFA.. and then, the top professional leagues." the young contender said. 

"The attitude of some of the coaches I had before has also been a problem for me. They thought I was their property. In addition to paying them to train, I went to tournaments and brought them back medals and awards. When I had no further avenue to develop with them and moved on for the training I felt I needed, they took revenge on me in various ways, and they are still taking revenge on me today. I'm getting used to it, but it's a shame. We could still get along and rejoice in what we achieved together." Zajicova continued. 

She is feeling positive for this week’s European Championships and said earning another medal for her country would be an honour and her pride and joy. 

"My only goal is gold. I am committed to it. I have training twice a day and I attend grappling tournaments as dedicated preparation for the GAMMA Euros." she said about the competition. 

As for her ultimate goals in MMA, Zajicova sets her sights on the big leagues. 

"I think that apart from competitions like GAMMA, there are also the top pro leagues which are probably my biggest goal. But as I already said. I have a lot of small goals before that. I’m also only 20 years old and I believe I can do it. Every win brings me closer to this goal of mine."