By Jake Smith
The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation of Australia (IMMAFA) successfully held their first COVID safe event of 2021, the Queensland Open on February 20th, 2021.
The event, held at Gamebred Academy in Brisbane, had 38 athletes from five Nations including Australia, New Zealand, France, Brazil, and Greece – all based in Australia – competing in the Open. The matches included youth (U18s), junior and senior bouts.
For many of the athletes, it was their first time competing on the IMMAF circuit and with so many young athletes competing, the tournament is set to expand in future. There’s great potential for many of the youth and junior competitors to perform in IMMAF events for years to come.
Australia has been somewhat at the forefront of IMMAF development over the last 18 months. The Gold Coast hosted the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships. They have been pivotal in pioneering and piloting the new IMMAF specialist coaching courses MMA stand-up and MMA ground, both of which will be rolled out globally.
Team Australia are experiencing notable success across the IMMAF scene and are currently ranked as the No.5 Senior team in the world, with their most recent global success coming by way of Strawweight, Olivia Ukmar, claiming Sliver in the 2019 IMMAF World Championships.
2020 IMMAF Oceania featherweight champion, Colby Thicknesse also recently made an successful transition to the professional ranks with a 1st round submission on his pro debut.
Once again, the high standards of IMMAF and the various divisions available means amateurs have plenty of opportunities to gain competitive experience. Providing a COVID safe platform upon which young amateur athletes can compete means that competitors have the chance to compete more frequently during these uncertain times for amateur sport.
Sevastiyan Kostov played a lead role in the running of the Queensland Open. He said: “With IMMAFA, we were very happy to be able to restart those state competitions, with the sport development globally being delayed by the various restrictions. Here in Queensland, we were lucky that the restrictions were not too harsh, which together with the other major sports in Australia, turned the state into the sport capital of the country.
“In fact, the project of running those series of regular state tournaments with IMMAFA, is pending since last year, but actually was stopped by last year’s events.
“The event saw youth, junior and senior bouts, it was important to cover all divisions in order to help continue the development of young athletes in these uncertain times.”
The development of the athletes during such an uncertain time was also something that was very much important to the IMMAFA team, as Kostov explained: “Me, the president of IMMAFA Richie Cranny and the other officials and coaches involved in development of the sport under IMMAF share common vision about progression in the sport of MMA from grass roots.
“In order to prevent leaking of athletes, which is common in MMA, we designed this series of tournaments throughout the year. The wins from those tournaments go into a national ranking list system based only on victories, which helps us compare athletes from different regions, when the times come to assemble a national team. For example: you might not win every tournament during the year, but collecting victories through the IMMAFA tournaments might climb you at the top of the rank list.
“In this last tournament, compared to the previous state level tournament, we pretty much double the numbers of competitors between youths and have probably four times more adults in the divisions.
“I believe in the concept of IMMAF for development of MMA into an Olympic sport, together with the progression tournament system we implemented here in Australia will resonate even more with coaches and athletes and I wish this year to have fewer odds outside the sport to deal with, both as organiser and coach.”
Full list of medalists from the 2021 Queensland Open:
YOUTH BOYS / -61.2 KG BANTAMWEIGHT / 16-17 YEARS OLD
1 Liam Benton (AUS)
2 Lewis Essery (AUS)
YOUTH BOYS / -77.1 KG WELTERWEIGHT / 16-17 YEARS OLD
1 Kyle Mayocchi (AUS)
2 Randall Rowan (AUS)
3 Josh Creed (AUS)
YOUTH BOYS / -44 KG / 12-13 YEARS OLD
1 Codey Toft (AUS)
2 Steven Diamond (AUS)
3 Stirling Cartwright (AUS)
3 Thoran Schellhammer (AUS)
YOUTH BOYS / -52 KG / 12-13 YEARS OLD
1 Riley Wells (AUS)
2 Matthew Harvey (AUS)
3 Tayvian Marden-Ryle (AUS)
YOUTH BOYS / -57 KG / 14-15 YEARS OLD
1 Nick Nicolas (AUS)
2 Tomas Schellhammer (AUS)
3 Orlando Nagy (AUS)
YOUTH BOYS / -67 KG / 14-15 YEARS OLD
1 Brodie Mayocchi (AUS)
2 Orson Mccomish (AUS)
3 Hayden Absalom (AUS)
YOUTH BOYS / 72+ KG / 14-15 YEARS OLD
1 Ariki Cliffe (AUS)
2 Brooklyn Cartwright (AUS)
YOUTH GIRLS / -56.7 KG FLYWEIGHT / 16-17 YEARS OLD
1 Talulah Linegar (AUS)
SENIOR MEN / -61.2 KG BANTAMWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION B
1 Jefferson Kawamoto (BRZ)
2 Lachlan Paulsen (AUS)
SENIOR MEN / -65.8 KG FEATHERWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION C
1 Liam Forrest (AUS)
2 Victor Khuu (AUS)
SENIOR MEN / -70.3 KG LIGHTWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION C
1 Dario Strbac (AUS)
2 Finn Mumford (AUS)
SENIOR MEN / -70.3 KG LIGHTWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION B
1 Jonathan Kuhn (FR)
2 Alastair Volders (AUS)
3 Alex Young (AUS)
SENIOR MEN / -70.3 KG LIGHTWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION A
1 Abraham Rugato (AUS)
1 Ryan Bishop (AUS)
2 Julian Prowse (AUS)
SENIOR MEN / -77.1 KG WELTERWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION C
1 Matt Natad (NZ)
2 Ishaan Rai (AUS)
3 Dylan Murphy (AUS)
SENIOR MEN / -83.9 KG MIDDLEWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION B
1 Liam Sue-Tin (GRC)
2 Shaun King (AUS)