Defending champion Abdulmanap Magomedov returns for 2018 IMMAF Africa Open

Abdulmanap Magomedov (pictured above with KHK MMA founder, Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa) was among the top rising amateurs of 2017, securing gold medals at both the Africa and Asian Open ahead of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, the final event of the year, where he claimed a bronze medal.

The 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships take place at the Brakpan Sports Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24 to 26 May.

The 25-year-old is a product of Bahrain’s KHK MMA program and first competed for Russia at the 2017 Asian Open in Singapore, winning his first continental title in the Men’s featherweight division. A quarter-final victory saw him best national Czech prodigy Jakub Tichota with a second round TKO. In the final, Magomedov battled to a unanimous decision triumph over Kazakhstan’s Bekzat Zhassiya, who in the semis earned a decision win over 2016 European gold medalist, Sweden’s Daniel Schalander.

Magomedov was granted Bahrain citizenship in time for the Africa Open later that year and represented the island Kingdom for the first time in Johannesburg. He advanced to the featherweight tournament final alongside fellow Bahrain representative, Gamzat Magomedov, however the latter was unable to compete to due illness and settled for silver while his namesake was awarded the gold. Gamzat would go on win the 2017 IMMAF World Championships title as a bantamweight.

Magomedov earned a bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships. After an opening victory over Japan’s Kohei Maeda, he stormed into the semi-finals with a knockout stoppage of Kazakhstan’s Merey Zhubanov in just 12 seconds (video below). However, the momentum was eventually halted by Finland’s Joel Arolainen, who clinched a unanimous decision for a place in the final.

The defending Africa and Asian Open champion begins his 2018 campaign next month, back in Johannesburg. Currently ranked as the world’s number-two featherweight, just 33 points behind Bulgaria’s world champion Delyan Georgiev, Magomedov aims to assert himself as the number-one seed en route back to the end-of-year World Championships in Bahrain.

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IMMAF World Champions Benjamin Bennett and Gamzat Magomedov sign with Brave CF

Pictured: 2017 IMMAF gold medalist Benjamin Bennett signs with Brave Combat Federation,  photo by Jorden Curran.

After winning gold medals in their respective divisions at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, amateur standouts Benjamin Bennett and Gamzat Magomedov have signed professional deals with Bahrain based promotion, Brave Combat Federation.

Last year’s IMMAF World Championships took place in Manama, Bahrain, for the first time. Brave CF announced via press released that Bennett, who won the welterweight division title, has signed with the region’s leading professional MMA organisation. The 23-year-old concludes his amateur career with an 11-fight win streak and an incredible overall amateur record of 30-3, plus success in amateur boxing to boot.

At the 2017 IMMAF Worlds, the American secured five victories from 13-18 November, including triumphs over top Swedish welterweight Oskar Biller and impressive Belgian contender Issa Isakov. In the finals, Bennett clinched a split-decision victory over Frenchman Sola Axel.

It was revealed that Bennett will be on the card when Brave CF travels to Jakarta, Indonesia, on 11 May. On social media Bennett teased that his professional debut will take place on June 9 in Ireland, however an event is yet to be confirmed.

Joining him at Brave CF will be 22-year-old Gamzat Magomedov. Upon gaining Bahrain citizenship, Magomedov entered his first IMMAF World Championships and stormed his way to earning the Men’s Bantamweight crown. Following his opening day victory, the talented wrestler established himself as a top contender when submitting Kazakhstan’s Nurtilek Yerkautuly, a former world silver medalist, in the opening round.

Later progressing to the semi-finals, Magomedov halted the momentum of Albania’s Florian Doskja. In the championship final he bested Olzhas Moldagaliyev, who also battled for the Kazakh team which surged to prominence in 2017, although it was the Bahrain representative who secured a unanimous decision win to take the prestigious gold medal.

Magomedov (center, left) takes his place on the 2017 IMMAF World Championships podium

Magomedov (center, left) takes his place on the 2017 IMMAF World Championships podium

Since 2015 Brave Combat Federation has consistently signed IMMAF medalists to professional deals, including Frans Mlambo, Hardeep Rai, Hussain Ayyad and Abdul Hussien. The Kingdom of Bahrain will be hosting the 2018 and 2019 IMMAF World Championships which will again be a part of the Brave International Combat Week.

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USA and Australia to compete at IMMAF Africa Open for the first time

Pictured above: Romeo Orosco will debut for the USA at the 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

This year’s IMMAF Africa Open Championships are on track to be the biggest to date when the event returns to the Brakpan Sports Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24 to 26 May.

Competitors from the USA and Australia will join the diverse international lineup of competitors as the respective national teams dispatch athletes to the Africa Open for the first time since its inception in 2016.

Last month the inaugural IMMAF Oceania Open was hosted by Australia in the city on Melbourne, taking place at the Arnold Sports Festival. In the middleweight bracket, Australia’s own Joseph Luciano (pictured below) claimed the gold medal and elevated himself to the number-2 position in the IMMAF middleweight world rankings. The 2017 World Championships quarter-finalist looks continue his 2018 momentum when he targets the Africa Open title.

Luciano will be joined by Cody Barnwell, who picked up a bronze medal at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships at welterweight, plus Men’s bantamweight challenger Jean Alexander Romano who made his international amateur debut at the Oceania Open in March.

Meanwhile, the USA national team secured its first title on the 2018 IMMAF circuit, also at the Oceania Open, where Darian Weeks earned the gold medal in the welterweight division. At the Africa Open, Men’s flyweight competitor Romeo Orosco will represent the USA for the first time on the IMMAF platform after winning the USA MMA Federation’s 2018 UMMAF national championship.

Snatching a TKO victory in just 49 seconds at the UMMAF Nationals last month, the undefeated Orosco (4-0 on the U.S. circuit) stopped Trevor Barnes, an amateur veteran of close to 20 bouts, to book his place in the national team.

The registration deadline for athletes wishing to compete at the 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships is on Monday, 30 April.

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German MMA Federation says now is the time for DOSB recognition

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

Over the past seven months, operations within the German MMA Federation (GEMMAF) have been extensive under the stewardship of a newly elected board, as of September 2017, now led by President Clemens Werner (pictured below).

ClemensThe fresh GEMMAF leadership, officially elected on September 30, has wasted little time in ensuring that the nation’s governing body under IMMAF begins on the road to fulfilling its potential.

The GEMMAF President, Clemens Werner, who is also a certified judge under the International MMA Federation (IMMAF), believes that now is the time to push for national recognition with the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). The aim is to see Germany come on par with leading European counterparts who have excelled in regulation of the fast growing sport with recognition under their own government or National Olympic Committee.

The status of MMA across Germany is patchy: while mainstream media has welcomed the return of the UFC in recent years and it is now back on German television, the sport is still subject to outdated prejudices and misconceptions which other nations have long since surpassed. Furthermore, GEMMAF believes that inexperienced competitors are turning to professional bouts too soon due to a lack of incentives for amateurs.

“Our aim is to become a member of the DOSB,” the GEMMAF President stated. “We contacted the German Olympic Federation (DOSB) to start a dialog about GEMMAF becoming a member. The first response of the DOSB showed us that GEMMAF must grow even more to meet the DOSB requirements, but we are confident of reaching this goal.”

“However, the DOSB signaled an outdated perspective of MMA as they stated that they are not sure whether MMA is the kind of sport which they want to supervise. I believe that the DOSB must develop an accurate understanding of any potential affiliate, as many other countries have done already. Once this effort has been made they will see that their reasons for hesitation are simply not valid.”

Contrary to outdated prejudices, studies show that professional MMA results in less head trauma than boxing. MMA has a complex rule set, modified for amateurs, to protect developing athletes. Amateur MMA competition under GEMMAF looks to ensure the use of IMMAF rules, shin-guards and larger gloves, plus education of Officials and anti-doping practice.

The nation is in great need of a recognised, strong regulator for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Despite Germany’s prominent standing within the international community and historic sports pedigree, the central European nation is lagging behind nations such as Sweden, Portugal and Italy who, with affiliation to government, have introduced funding and athlete sponsorship, regulation such as event safety standards, educational and certification programs, anti-doping enforcement, safety ladders and pathways for participants, plus active and successful national competition teams.

GEMMAF provided a breakdown of national developments over the past 7 months:

– GEMMAF has doubled the number of its members over the last 6 months.

– GEMMAF has recruited several voluntary employees.

– For the first time, GEMMAF aims to host four regional championships in 2018, accompanied by national rankings which will decide which athletes can take part and be sponsored for the international IMMAF championships.

– Through collaboration with the Austrian MMA Federation and national coaches Gerhard and Michael Ettl, GEMMAF has sourced 100% sponsorship for five German amateur athletes to compete at the 2018 IMMAF European Championships.

IMMAF President and Olympic judo medalist, Kerrith Brown, has previously stated: “GAISF (formerly known as Sport Accord) is duty bound to not shy away from sport development.”

While this statement refers to the Global Association of International Sport Federations, the responsibility passes down to all national bodies to not shy away from the duty of ensuring safety within sport.

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UK’s home nations meet to discuss regional regulation in England, Wales and Scotland.

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

On April 11, 2018, IMMAF hosted a landmark meeting in Birmingham, UK, to discuss regional regulation of MMA within the British Isles and how the United Kingdom’s  home nations can further development of the sport, respectively.

Joining IMMAF President Kerrith Brown and Chief Executive Densign White, the meeting was attended by members of the current UK MMA Federation (UKMMAF), England’s Windy Miller (President) and Alan Packman (Clubs and Coaching Chairman). Attending on behalf of Wales was renowned coach Chris Rees, who last year made a strong impression as coach for the UK national team at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships. David Galbraith, attending on behalf of Scotland, was also introduced.

Pictured, from left to right: Chris Rees, Alan Packman, David Galbraith, Kerrith Brown, Windy Miller.

Pictured, from left to right: Chris Rees, Alan Packman, David Galbraith, Kerrith Brown, Windy Miller.

While representatives of Northern Ireland were unable to attend, the Ulster Amateur MMA Association has seen incredible developments made for MMA at the social level and on the IMMAF competition platform. Through independent operations, Northern Ireland has been a fruitful prototype of the UK’s future vision.

“Last week’s meeting represented a landmark for UK MMA,” Windy Miller stated. “Together, with the assistance and support of IMMAF, the template for governance, regulation and recognition of the sport in the UK was established.”

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