Intense National Championships Test Awaits Russia’s Amateur MMA World Champions

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

Russia’s gold medal winning standouts of the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships will face their first major test as reigning world champions, in the Russian MMA Union National Championships.

For Russia’s world champion athletes, a new pressure awaits with automatic qualification granted to the national finals, where they will be tested by the very best of their domestic rivals, facing off in a bid for their place within Team Russia for 2019, bound for the 2019 World Championships and European Open.

Earning 5 senior world championships gold medals, and 5 junior titles, the overwhelming success of the Russian national team smashed IMMAF records at the first Unified World Championships in Bahrain last November – recap HERE.

Operating under the government affiliated Russian MMA Union, Russia boasts what is likely the world’s most extensive competition circuit for amateur MMA contenders, with an estimated twenty-thousand (20,000) participants spanning age levels from cadet to senior. Athletes setting their sights on the national title must qualify via their local city championships, followed by regional and federal championships, all prior to the national finals event spanning four days of competition.

National championships for senior finalists are set for May 3-6 in Moscow with junior national championships taking place in September – full Russian amateur calendar for 2019 available HERE.

Nine out of ten Russian world champions are expected to compete at national finals with the exception of senior bantamweight gold medalist, Sharapudin Magomedov, who completed a successful professional MMA debut in February. Those with remaining active amateur tenures include:

Juniors
Men’s Featherweight 65.8 kg (145 lbs) – Elbek Alyshov
Men’s Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs) – Reziuan Khotov
Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs) – Magomedkhabib Umarov
Light Heavyweight 93 kg (205 lbs) – Igor Glazkov
Heavyweight 120.2 kg (265 lbs) – Shamsutdin Makhmudov

Seniors
Men’s Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs) – Ruslan Satiev
Welterweight 77.1 kg (170 lbs) – Islam Bagomedov
Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs) – Dzhamal Medzhidov
Light Heavyweight 93 kg (205 lbs) – Magomed Shakhrudinov

At the national finals, Russia’s  reigning world champions will either solidify their status as the nation’s undisputed elite, or the amateur MMA world will see the emergence of an all new favorite to claim major international titles in 2019, as products of an intensive domestic proving ground.

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Amateur MMA World Champion Sharapudin Magomedov Wins Pro Debut

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

Russian athlete Sharapudin Magomedov completed a successful professional MMA debut in February, three months removed from his gold medal triumph at the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Amateur World Championships.

Bantamweight competitor Magomedov secured a first round rear-naked-choke submission as the 24-year-old wrestling specialist featured on the card of Battle of Volga 9 in Moscow on February 11.

“I was looking forward to this debut,” Magomedov stated. “Pro is easier than amateur because you have 1-2 months to prepare for the specific opponent, whereas in amateur it’s numerous fights against unknown opponents.” (Russian speaking interview below.)

Having previously earned silver in the Russian MMA Union National Championships, and gold at the WMMAA European Championships, his amateur tenure culminated as the Dagestan native defeated four opponents in as many days to claim the IMMAF-WMMAA unified amateur bantamweight world title.

The overwhelming success of the Russian national team smashed IMMAF records at the first Unified World Championships.

Surpassing all comers via unanimous decision, Magomedov kicked off his world championships campaign by upsetting the momentum of Sweden’s Jonny Touma before besting rivals from Brazil and Bahrain, including Carlos Veras and Hamza Zrira, plus subsequent world silver medalist, Magomed Idrisov.

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USA Team of 12 Set Sights on First IMMAF-WMMAA Pan-American Championships

By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer: Jorden Curran

Team USA will dispatch it’s biggest squad of athletes to date outside of the Amateur MMA World Championships, as the nation targets the first IMMAF-WMMAA Pan-American Open Championships in May.

The USA MMA Federation (UMMAF) has completed the registration of 12 standout amateur MMA contenders to the Pan-Am’s, including reigning Unified World Championships gold medalist and viral knockout artist, LaNeisha Vinson (pictured), who conquered the senior women’s bantamweight division with devastating effect back in November.

With one of the most impressive gold medal journeys ever seen on the international platform, Vinson shook all opposition with four successive knockout stoppages in as many days to claim a first world title and continue the USA’s record of securing gold at each world championships since the IMMAF competition made its debut in 2014.

Taking place in The Bahamas from 15-18 April, the Pan-American Open will host the USA’s largest representation of athletes outside of the World Championships. In past years, smaller delegations included former world silver medalist David Evans entering the 2016 European Open. In addition, the nation’s talent has secured gold medals at other continental open championships, earned by women’s strawweight standout Hannah Scoggins taking home the 2018 Asia Open title, and top 10 ranked welterweight Darian Weeks at the 2018 Oceania Open.

Following a successful professional debut in February, Weeks is poised to joined the coaching staff of Team USA bound for The Bahamas, alongside Andrew Ebers and decorated national team coach Robert Hulett.

In addition to Vinson, experienced competitors and World Championships veterans selected once again by UMMAF for the 2019 Pan-Am’s include: Alvin Miller, Laree Hutchinson,  Toma Walton and 2018 world quarter-finalist, Angelo Rivera Jr.

Among the team’s newcomers who have shown promise in the early stages of their amateur MMA tenures; budding knockout artist, 24-year-old Daniel Liberson, enters at 5-0 with each win secured via stoppage, plus 29-year-old heavyweight Jeremy Woolfolk who has so impressed on the regional circuit with a 4-0 run featuring 3 stoppages.

See below for the full list of Team USA registered for the 2019 Pan-American Open Championships.

Women’s Flyweight – Meg Ryan
Women’s Bantamweight – LaNeisha Vinson (reigning world champion)
Men’s Featherweight – Alvin Miller
Men’s Featherweight – Khalil Reed
Men’s Lightweight – Daniel Liberson
Men’s Lightweight – Kyle Cason
Welterweight – LaRee Hutchinson
Middleweight – Angelo Rivera Jr.
Middleweight – Jeremiah Curtright
Light-Heavyweight – Jeff Bradshaw
Light-Heavyweight – Toma Walton
Heavyweight – Jeremy Woolfolk

MMA American Championships

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“I think it can go a long way”: UFC Contender Mike Grundy Discusses Potential of Regulation and Further Development of MMA

By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer: Jorden Curran

British MMA veteran Mike Grundy made his long awaited and highly anticipated UFC debut on March 16 in the promotion’s featherweight division. The 32-year-old Team Kaobon product from Wigan secured his 12th professional victory with a TKO stoppage over fellow British standout, Nad Narimani, on the card of UFC Fight Night: Till vs. Masvidal at the O2 Arena in London.

While MMA remains unrecognized and widely unregulated in the UK; Grundy is no stranger to regulated sport and the necessity for focused sport development from the grass roots. The grappling specialist represented England in freestyle wrestling at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, earning a bronze medal in the 74kg division with a long evolved skill-set that no doubt lent to his MMA career with 8 out of 12 wins coming via submission.

Having both witnessed and been a part of mainstream MMA’s biggest UK night in years, Grundy is confident that far more is yet to come, and through established regulation and youth development, the world’s “fastest growing sport” could yet see another explosion.

“I think it can go a long way,” Grundy stated following his debut UFC appearance. “I’ve got kids at my club who are doing MMA, wrestling, jiu jitsu, everything, and they’re coming through now from like 10-years-old. They are a young age, it’s going to develop very quick I think. Some of these young ones coming through are going to be unreal.”

In February of 2019, global governing body IMMAF-WMMAA released youth competition rules for amateur MMA athletes under the age of 18. The youngest age bracket, Youth C, is set to accommodate athletes aged 12-13 (U14) with rules across all U18 divisions prohibiting certain strikes including head shots and a number of submission techniques based on age level.

“The rules set for younger ones doing it has got to be monitored,” Grundy added. “It’s got to be body shots and stuff. I think a governing body in the sport would be nice to have.”

The UK MMA Federation (UKMMAF) serves as the UK’s national affiliate to IMMAF-WMMAA, in addition to Northern Ireland’s Ulster Amateur MMA Association, and the recently confirmed Welsh MMA Federation, MMA Cymru. UK athletes have represented national teams on the international IMMAF championships platform since 2014, with junior divisions established in 2018 and the debut of youth championships set for later this year.

The inaugural 2019 Youth MMA World Championships are scheduled for August 3-4 in Rome, Italy. In addition, the 2019 Junior World Championships for athletes age 18-20 are once again set to take place in conjunction with the IMMAF-WMMAA Senior World Championships (18+), when the sport’s premier competition for amateurs returns to Manama, Bahrain, in November.

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European Champion & World Silver Medalist, France’s Axel Sola Enters 2019 Oceania Open

By IMMAF.org lead writer, photographer: Jorden Curran

France’s number-one amateur MMA contender, Axel Sola, is set to enter the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Oceania Open Championships, taking place in Auckland, New Zealand, from 13-14 April.

Regarded among the world’s top amateur mixed martial artists, Sola stands as the world’s number-one ranked welterweight and holds 5th place in the international pound-for-pound rankings.

A significantly decorated amateur contender, Sola earned the silver medal in 2017 at the IMMAF World Championships, in what was his first international tournament appearance. The 21-year-old then progressed to win gold in Bucharest, at the 2018 IMMAF European Open, in arguably the most challenging division in amateur MMA.

Pictured above: Sola tops the European Open podium. In 2018 the ultra stacked division played host to standouts including Issa Isakov (Belgium), Jush Hudson (UK/Wales), Yann Liasse (Luxembourg), Robin Roos (Sweden) and world champion Islam Bagmodeov (Russia), with over 100 ranked contenders. 

The welterweight frontrunner stepped up in size for a middleweight appearance at the 2018 WMMAA European Championships, but was back at 170lbs for the historic 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships last November. The division favorite would earn a second world championships silver medal upon battling his way to the finals for a second consecutive year. The world title remains elusive for the Frenchman after a competitive decision loss to Russia’s Islam Bagomedov.

Pictured above: Sola lands a flush right hand in the 2018 World Championships final, wearing the gold Green Hill uniform signifying his status as European Open champion.

For France’s number-one, his pledge to reach the pinnacle of amateur MMA remains unhindered. An inspiring and self-funded athlete, Sola’s commitment to representing French MMA with prominence on the international amateur platform has further ixelntensified, and he is set to launch a fresh test of his abilities among middleweight competition. The two-time world silver medalist and reigning European Open champion now targets a second continental title, in a second weight division, in the Oceania region.

IMMAF Oceania

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