Finland’s Jenni Kivioja could be set to provide the challenge that IMMAF world champion Michelle Montague is searching for in 2020.
A perennial top contender in the IMMAF women’s featherweight (145lb) division, the Team Finland mainstay has taken on the challenge to enter the 155lb lightweight bracket of the 2020 Oceania Open in Australia.
New Zealand’s Montague remains undefeated as an amateur mixed martial artist. The 26-year-old grappling powerhouse currently reigns as the IMMAF Oceania Open champion and World Championships gold medalist while also aiming to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a freestyle wrestler.
Despite triumphing over opponents from Russia and Sweden at the 2019 World Championships, Montague was forced to battle New Zealand team mate Mel Webster for a second time as the Kiwi duo would both advance to the gold medal decider. In 2020 the world champion is on the hunt for new international rivals and the proven skill set of Kivioja will certainly up the ante for a hugely compelling 4-woman tournament.
Kivioja is a former silver medalist of the IMMAF World and European Open championships and won the 2018 “Performance of the Year” award for her devastating head-kick KO at the European Open in Bucharest, Romania – watch below in the 2018’s Performance of the Year nominees.
Should they collide, Montague vs. Kivioja would serve as one of the most insightful bouts of the year. Kivioja may look back to her experience in the 2018 World Championships finals against Julia Dorny, in which Kivioja’s striking kept her rival at bay and unable to secure an early takedown. While Dorny eventually secured a dominant position on the ground and captured the world title via an arm-bar in the second round, the German standout presented similar threats to that of Montague with both physical strength and a strong grappling pedigree. Montague’s overwhelming prowess on the ground has to date looked unstoppable, but compared with her new rival’s trademark movement and precision striking, a focused and tactical approach from Kivioja would embody many of the characteristics that could prove testing for Montague while standing.
The 2020 Oceania Open women’s lightweight divisions will feature Michelle Montague (defending champion), Mel Webster, Jenni Kivioja and newcomer Kelsey Schroder who could make a significant impact on her IMMAF platform debut.
The 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships take place from 6- 8 March at the Tallebudegra Leisure Center on Australia’s Gold Coast.
By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran]]>