Pictured above: 2016 Africa Open, Stephen May picks up a unanimous decision victory over Axel Karlsson This week South Africa takes on the opportunity of showcasing the nation’s depth in amateur MMA talent, just three months ahead of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships. Mixed Martial Arts South Africa, the nation’s governing body under IMMAF, hosts the IMMAF Africa Open Championships for a second time this week, handing run outs to a squad of 22 individual athletes against opposition from Bahrain, India and Ghana. South Africa’s lineup sees a mix of returning veterans who have competed on the international IMMAF platform over the past year in addition to number of fresh new prospects looking to break through. National standouts include returning medalist Stephen May who clinched African Open silver in 2016 and went the distance in the final of the welterweight bracket, losing out on the scorecards to countryman Douw Eksteen. May ascended to the no.8 spot in the IMMAF World Rankings and picked up a victory in the semi-finals over Sweden’s Axel Karlsson who went on to claim bronze at the 2017 European Open. In this year’s bracket May will be joined by 19-year-old hopeful Alon Berger, the nation’s youngest representative, currently 2-1 in his amateur career. Also among the newcomers to South Africa’s national amateur team; Men’s lightweight challenger Nkosi Ndebele stands out in the 155lb bracket. Ndebele is a 5-1 contender with all amateur victories coming by way of knockout. South Africa’s full national team for the 2017 Africa Open Championships includes: Imke-Marischca Smit – Flyweight, age 39 Wade Kerspuy – Flyweight, age 29 Kyla De Vries – Women’s Bantamweight, age 21 Katiso Matime – Bantamweight, age 21 Shaun Joubert – Bantamweight, age 28 Daniel Duda – Featherweight, age 27 Ryan Roets – Featherweight, age 20 Dylan goosen – Lightweight, age 26 J.C Roets – Lightweight, age 25 Shane Higgins – Lightweight, age 31 Nkosi Ndebele – Lightweight, age 22 Sheldon James Victor – Welterweight, age 20 Stephen May – Welterweight, age 30 Riyaad Pandy – Welterweight, age 34 Alon Breger – Welterweight, age 19 Joubert Grigor – Welterweight, age 26 JT Botha – Light Heavyweight, age 26 Dimitri Fogg – Light Heavyweight, age 23 Frikkie Bendeman – Light Heavyweight, age 26 Richard Zoutendyk – Heavyweight, age 37 Dwain Meredith – Heavyweight, age 31 Delano Human – Heavyweight, age 23 For live tournament updates visit MyNextMatch.com.