By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran The 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships is anticipated to be the biggest Africa Open to date, enjoying continued growth since its inception in 2016. Sponsored by Media Scuffle, the event returns to South Africa for the third time, hosted by MMA South Africa (MMASA) and taking place at the Brakpan Sports Centre in Johannesburg from 24 to 26 May as the nation vs. nation tournament plays out over three days. IMMAF’s footprint in Africa extends across nations such as Seychelles, Mauritius, Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon and event hosts, South Africa. Previous Africa Opens have attracted national teams including the world’s number-1 ranked IMMAF member – Sweden, plus regular competitors India and Bahrain. The 2017 Africa Open supported the first appearance of Eliezer Kubanza, pictured in the official event poster with his gold medal. Representing the Democratic Republic of Congo, he earned the Middleweight division title, showcasing exciting physical prowess. The event served to propel Kubanza to the 2017 IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain where he entered the 185lb bracket as one of the standout newcomers to the world’s premier amateur MMA event. “A big goal for IMMAF this year has been to grow the rate of participation from within the African continent,” IMMAF events manager Alistair Pettitt explained. “The 2018 Africa Open is going to see its highest participation so far among African nations. We’re going to have athletes from South Africa, Congo, Ghana, Mauritius, Tunisia and Egypt, plus our international visitors from beyond African shores. Luxembourg will compete at the Africa Open for the first time after making a significant impact in the team’s debut year at the 2017 European Open and World Championships.” For hosts South Africa, the event has featured as a significant talent development platform that has played a significant role in crafting the nation’s squad heading towards the IMMAF World Championships. With athlete registration having opened on 21 February, South Africa already has 7 participants confirmed for action. As the host nation, South Africa is permitted to register a maximum of four athletes per weight division and MMASA plans on maximizing its national squad capacity. Grant Oliff, South Africa’s team manager, added: “This year will be Africa’s biggest event to date, we have been working for the past two years to produce a team that will beat the best in the world and the African Open is where we find our talent to travel to the world. I already have commitment from several athletes and will be stacking all divisions. We are looking for the best athletes in the world to come and see if you can beat us on our own soil.” For more information and team details visit the official 2018 Africa Open event page at MyNextMatch.com. Athletes wishing to participate should contact their national federation for local tryouts, information and updates.