By Caoilte De Barra
March 8, 2020 marked the final day of the only IMMAF event to take place before the world came to a screeching halt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia welcomed nations from around the world for the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championship and over 3 days, some of the best amateur talent in the world competed in the Gold Coast with all eyes set on taking home a gold medal. Australia took home five gold medals with Bahrain close behind with a tally of three.
Many of the medalists are now embarking upon a new journey in the pro ranks, and some fighters have signed exclusive deals with some of the biggest MMA organizations in the world. Ireland’s Ryan Spillane and England’s Muhammad Mokaev are the best examples of this.
SBG Cork fighter Ryan Spillane was the sole Irish representative at the Open. The 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA World Champion added another gold to his collection with a first-round TKO victory over Dane Alchin. The Irishman first debuted in IMMAF back in 2015 and this fight marked the end of an era as Spillane signed off his amateur career with a win. His success as an amateur saw him rewarded with a Bellator MMA contract, where he awaits new on his pro debut.
Muhammad Mokaev left behind a real legacy when he signed off his amateur career with an undefeated record of 23-0. At the Gold Coast the two-time amateur Jr world champion competed in the senior ranks. He dominated Abdulla Alyaqoob in the opening bout of the competition before sealing gold by submitting Abdulla Mubarak in the final. Despite the pandemic, Mokaev stayed active and has picked up four consecutive victories as a pro in 2020. Now signed with BRAVE CF, 2016 IMMAF World Champion Abdul Hussein awaits Mokaev for his next bout.
Australia’s Olivia Ukmar and Colby Thicknesse were two other stand outs of the competition. Ukmar is scheduled to make her pro debut next month following a successful amateur career. Four months after her 2019 World Championship fight, the 29-year-old made it two wins in as many days in high-level competition on the Gold Coast to take home her first IMMAF gold.
Young-gun Colby Thicknesse lit up the tournament over the three days. The IMMAF debutant took on experienced competitors in his bouts. He made an instant impression with a stoppage over Ali Yaqoob in the opening round. Two consecutive decision wins rounded off the competition for the Australian representative. Since the championships, Thicknesse added to the trend of winners entering the pro ranks. He is now 1-0 as a pro following a win in the latter stages of 2020.
The world has changed a lot since this event and the competition will go down in IMMAF history for that reason. However, it will also be remembered as a swansong for a number of IMMAF’s greatest perennial talents.
Check out the full list of results from the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships here and the medalists for each division here.