Appetite for a Comeback – Part 3: Charlotte discovers new career path as certified cutwoman

Pictured: cutwoman Charlotte Lewis readying an MMA competitor.

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

After her fast paced teenage years spent as a martial arts competitor, Charlotte Lewis joined Britain’s Royal Air Force at the age of just 19, continuing her adventurous and extrovert life journey. A tragic workplace accident saw her confined to a wheelchair and dealt the bleak prognosis of never being able to walk again.

In Part 2 of Appetite for a Comeback, ‘Char’ recalled how her recovery had gathered great momentum and had reached positive shores. That is until a reality gut shot was delivered, in which she faced the realisation of not being able to return to kickboxing.

Catch up on Part 2 HERE.

Char accepted the reality and found alternative paths to fulfilling physical ambitions above and beyond that of walking, of which was once so far out of reach. She is now back in the gym, and alongside her progression as a certified combat sports cuts woman, has found a new way to satisfy the hunger for competition.

“I’m training again,” she proudly states, “competing in bikini fitness competitions. It’s safe to say I absolutely love it. I have a new coach, so I still have that personal connection with someone who supports and works towards something with me. I’m able to throw myself into something where I see changes and improvements every day.”

Nevertheless, martial arts had been a foundation of her upbringing. “Despite not fighting, I wanted to stay involved,” she said. It was time for Char to refill her think-tank for ways to rekindle a martial arts career.

In doing so, she discovered the IMMAF progression pathways, specifically, the branch established by international cutman, Joe Clifford, who has implemented an exam based education and progression system for Seconds, from beginners to the experienced international level.

“I’d always been fascinated by hand wrapping and the cutman role,” Char said, “but had absolutely no idea of how one would go about getting involved in it, and did think I would face challenges trying to break in to a male dominated role.”

But it was quite the opposite, as she would discover. IMMAF’s cuts team, supervised by one of the industry’s best, has seen Clifford lead an international group of men and women, each certified and educated as ongoing course graduates, gaining experience at regional events and IMMAF championships across the globe.

“After intense googling, I came across the IMMAF process,” Char explained. “By the next day I was booked on and ready to head to Dublin two months later. I couldn’t recommend the course highly enough. Joe is an absolute wizard, I learnt so much and he was and continues to be such a supportive role model, I am very lucky to have him in my corner.

“I started off with some shadowing, I met a lovely lady called Beccy Davies, who also came up through the IMMAF process. She has been another massive supporter for me and has openly welcomed me, offering years of knowledge. I started off shadowing her and I travel to Dublin to get some experience in with Joe and his regular team, which has been amazing. I have been fortunate enough to be booked for various gigs this year, both solo and as part of an all-female cuts team including Beccy and another inspiration, Nicola Vicarey. I am hoping to be selected to be on Joe and Bob Plant’s team for the IMMAF Asian open in Beijing and the IMMAF world championships in Bahrain this year.

“After everything that’s happened over the last 7 years, I am just so pleased to have fallen in love with a career path again. I have a hugely supportive team around me, I am excited about all the opportunities that are now within reach and after missing the sense of belonging I felt while I was serving, I feel like I’m finding that again within IMMAF and the sport of MMA. I look forward to many more years on the cuts team and would just like to thank everyone that has been involved in my journey so far.”

For information on how you can take part in Joe Clifford’s educational cutman program, or to inquire about certification, please contact malik@immaf.org

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IMMAF CONFIRMS PRIZE MONEY BREAKDOWN FOR 2018 ASIAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS AND JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Board of Directors for the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced the breakdown of the half-a-million dollars in prize money gifted by the China International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (CIMMAF) for medalists and awardees at the 2018 IMMAF Asian Open Championships and Junior World Championships, taking place in Beijing from 10 to 15 September.

The prize money will be divided between Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists of the two respective championships, plus awardees for ‘Best Male’ and ‘Best Female Athlete’.

Furthermore, each nation will be in the running to receive the ‘Best Team’ award based on a combined medals count from the Senior Asian Open and the Junior World Championships, as tallied in a final, published medals table. Second and third place awards will also be awarded.

Breakdown of prize money is as follows:

MEDALISTS – IMMAF Senior Asian Open Championships and Junior World Championships
Gold: $7000
Silver: $3500
Bronze: $700, $700

BEST MALE
Asian Open: $1400
Junior Worlds: $1400
BEST FEMALE
Asian Open: $1400
Junior Worlds: $1400

BEST TEAM PRIZES – Based on combined Asian Open & Junior World Championships medal tables
1st Place: $7000
2nd Place: $2800
3rd Place: $700

Both Beijing tournaments are open events, welcoming elite amateurs from all around the world. The junior event will be IMMAF’s first Junior World Championships open to athletes age 18-20, providing better opportunity for rising stars to shine against competitors within a similar range of experience. Junior Championships also create a safer competition environment for younger adults who have not yet reached their physical peak. The Senior Asian Open is open to over 18s with no age limits.

Athletes must apply through their IMMAF affiliated national federation.

IMMAF CEO Densign White said:

“On behalf of myself and IMMAF President Mr. Brown, I must once again thank CIMMAF President Mr. Wei for the incredible donation. This has great meaning to IMMAF with tangible implications for dedicated amateur competitors who will travel to Beijing from across the globe, many from regions where no funding is provided. We do not fail to recognise the effort and sacrifices of every athlete, coach and national leader that passes through the IMMAF championships. We are extremely happy that for the first time IMMAF can give more back as a means to provide added incentive for new competitors to be welcomed on to this great platform and for our returning veterans to sustain their development as amateur athletes.”

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Missouri Youth MMA Ban Threatens UMMAF/USFL Progress

Photo courtesy of USFL Board Member Christina Taylor
Written by Dane McGuire, IMMAF U.S. Correspondent

Tucked away in the small midwestern town of Arnold, Missouri, USA, mixed martial arts history was made on August 4. For the first time in the state of Missouri, youth pankration bouts were contested.

At Warrior Weekend 10 from the Arnold-Hahn Extreme Fitness & Martial Arts Center, Brock Taylor and Zoey Hahn etched their names into that history. The pair became the inaugural champions in the Rookie and Cadet Girls divisions of the United States Fight League Central Division.

The USFL serves as the youth development arm of the U.S. Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UMMAF.) Having a youth branch in place is a requirement for MMA’s potential Olympic inclusion in time for 2028.

Talented nine-year-olds Brock Taylor (2-0 in USFL) and Ryder Sisson (0-1 in USFL) went the full distance in their title bout, under significantly modified pankration rules excluding head strikes and with age-based technique limitations.

“I feel like the fight went well, like I planned it. Ryder was the toughest competitor that I’ve faced. I feel like he pushed me harder than anyone else has. It felt great to bring home a second USFL championship. I’m grateful that I am able to fight in this area. I cannot wait for the next one,” Taylor said.

Age 14, Hahn (2-1 in USFL) had gold wrapped around her waist thanks to a standing guillotine submission of Ashlee Taber (0-1 in USFL) in the first round.

“It is an honor and privilege to be the USFL 135 Central champion and it felt really amazing because it happened in my hometown gym! I cannot wait to see what’s next for me,” Hahn said.

The USFL formed its Central division in February after great success with its East and West divisions in Florida and California. Unfortunately, the first Missouri event to feature youth pankration may be the last for the foreseeable future thanks to House Bill 1388.

The legislation, banning youth competitors in MMA (age 17 and under) among other things, has been signed and goes into effect on August 28.

USFL President Jon Frank said in a statement:

“USFL Youth Pankration does not allow head strikes, [eliminating] wins by knockouts, and contains numerous age-based technique limitations and utilizes a point scoring system based on application of technique and not punishment or damage. For these reasons alone, our rules do not constitute MMA or fall within the definition of a regulated full contact activity based on Missouri chapter 317.

“Nevertheless, as a closest ‘cousin’ to actual MMA, we realize it’s always better to obtain official sanctioning in states that afford such options to gain credibility and support for our sport within the community of athletic commissions.

“Recently we learned of the HB1388, headlined as the bill to ban kids MMA, but its main provision was to have the Missouri commission assume oversight from its numerous amateur sanctioning bodies. I can only assume most commissions would not want to oversee youth MMA due to the complicated nature of oversight for coaches, officials, participants and the lack of funds generated to support such efforts.

“For these reasons we believe Missouri chose to ban kids MMA rather than regulate it. It’s the United States Fight League’s opinion that our application for Amateur Sanctioning Body recognition went above and beyond the requirements of the sport since the rules concur with contentious sparring Karate and No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu and not full contact Mixed Martial Arts or full contact Karate.

“Comments from authors of HB1388, such as ‘stop minors from getting their heads bashed in a cage fight,’ appear to support that the ban is towards actual MMA and not youth Pankration.

“The USFL has been involved with an injury study under the direction of Dr. James Andrews for approximately four years.

“In the 683 bouts, 1366 athletic exposures under this study, we have documented 20 injuries based off post- bout injury reports completed for each and every bout by the attending ringside physician. No concussions were reported and the vast majority of these injuries were orthopaedic and accidents during the application of a grappling technique.

“Compared to the concussion and injury rate of MMA, which has been shown as high as 40 percent compared to the 1.5 percent rate of injuries for Youth Pankration, this should give assurance that Youth Pankration and MMA are unique individual sports. We anticipate the results of the safety study will be shared at the convention of ringside physicians this October in Las Vegas.

“We recently presented our interpretation of Missouri Chapter 317 and provided details about our rules and injury rates to the Missouri commission for recognition that our sport is a non-regulated activity such as non-Full Contact Martial Arts.”

The situation is ongoing.

For more information on the USFL, visit FightLeague.org or see the complete USFL Rulebook.

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Watch 2017 IMMAF world champ Quitin Thomas in Tiger Muay Thai Team Tryouts: Episode 1

By IMMAF.org lead writer and photographer, Jorden Curran

The world renowned Tiger Muay Thai & MMA gym first launched its Team Tryouts program in 2012. The scholarship initiative, which includes coverage of training, food and accommodation, is open to worldwide applicants and sees the annual hunt to find new up and coming talent that provides standout athletes with a life changing opportunity at the Phuket facility in Thailand.

Tiger Muay Thai is among the world’s most recognizable and diverse training camps, and plays host to a plethora of MMA’s best throughout the year. The Team Trials welcome 40 athletes chosen from thousands of applications. Episode 1 of the 2018 documentary series was released last week, and featured athletes from nations including the USA, Czech Republic, Kenya, UK and Algeria.

2017 IMMAF world champion, Quitin Thomas, was among the 40 chosen participants. The 26-year-old, who earned the gold medal last year in the men’s lightweight division of the IMMAF World Championships, was also joined by France’s 2015 women’s bantamweight silver medalist, Lucie Bertaud.

IMMAF was incredibly proud to see the announcement that Thomas was one of seven participants to earn a place with the Tiger Muay Thai team. Winners of the Tiger Team Trials have developed the reputation of going on to achieve success at the highest levels of pro MMA, including flyweight competitor, Ben Nguyen, who is now ranked 11th in the UFC’s 125lb division, having capitalized on the Tiger Trials as a final effort to sustain his MMA career.

In 2017 Thomas secured three victories at the UMMAF National Championships Tournament, earning his place on Team USA for the IMMAF Amateur World Championships in Bahrain.

Thomas, took the men’s lightweight division by storm, securing five back-to-back unanimous decision triumphs against leading amateurs from the UK, Australia, Canada and Albania en route to besting Belarusian Vitaly Andrukovich in the finals to earn gold for the USA. While managing the distance and frequently completing takedowns, the IMMAF newcomer showed glimpses of an inner ferocity and high awareness for coaching instructions that gave him the edge in later stages of the championships.

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IMMAF great Jose Torres aims for 9-0 talent showcase when he meets Alex Perez at UFC 227

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

At UFC 227 on August 4, IMMAF great Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres (8-0, 1-0 UFC) will aim to extend his undefeated professional MMA record with a second UFC triumph following his debut victory in the world’s leading MMA promotion.

Once dubbed ‘the world’s most decorated amateur’, the undefeated contender announced the end of his amateur career in 2015, posting a bar raising 25-1 record, earning back-to-back titles at the IMMAF World Championships in the two eyes prior.

‘Shorty’ completed a successful UFC debut at flyweight back in June, with a come-from-behind victory against Jarred Brooks (13-2). The two-weight Titan FC champion countered his opponent’s takedown slam to snatch a knockout victory late in the second round after accepting the bout on 9 day’s notice.

Speaking to MMAJunkie, Torres detailed the behind the scenes pressures of his short notice debut at 125lbs, having originally been in preparation for a 145lb featherweight title shot with Titan FC (video below). With more time afforded ahead of August 4, his primary goal now is to present a true debut of his talents on the UFC platform.

At UFC 227, taking place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Torres faces off against 20-4 veteran Alex Perez, age 25, who graduated to the UFC in 2017 via an impressive Anaconda Choke submission triumph while competing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Since then, the Californian is 2-0 in the UFC.

26-year-old Illinois native, Torres, turned pro in 2016, five years after the pro debut of Perez. Having garnered attention with his extensive amateur credentials, ‘Shorty’ became the first 0-0 prospect to join reputable U.S. promotion Titan FC, where he put together a 7-0 run with world titles secured in the flyweight and bantamweight divisions.

UFC 227 is headlined by a world championship double header as bantamweight ruler T.J. Dillashaw meets former champion Cody Garbrandt in a heated and eagerly awaited rematch. In addition, pound-for-pound standout Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson meets Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo in a rematch of their 2016 encounter.

Visit UFC.com for more.

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