By Jake Smith
The IMMAF 2021 European Senior and Junior Open Championships takes place between 16 and 21 August in Kazan, Russia and will be the first major competition for these age groups since 2019.
The tournament pits the best amateurs across the continent against each other in a knock out tournament which sees the top three athletes winning a prestigious IMMAF European Championship medal.
Many European Championship alumni have gone on to accomplish great feats in the world of MMA. It’s been 22 months since the last European tournament, so where are some of the stand out performers almost 2 years on?
Muhammad Mokaev is one of the most prominent names to have fought on the IMMAF stage in recent times. Mokaev burst onto the IMMAF scene as a 7-0-0 amateur and immediately showed ability way beyond his years, capturing gold, as well as many people’s attention, at the 2018 Junior Worlds.
With one bout away from the IMMAF platform, Mokaev returned at the 2019 European championship; the only European tournament of his IMMAF tenure. Continuing his win streak, Mokaev finished top of the tree, getting his hands on yet another gold medal. Prior to making his highly anticipated jump to the professional scene, Mokaev claimed another two IMMAF golds, in the 2019 Amateur World Championships and the Oceania Open Championship.
‘The Punisher’ penned his first professional deal with Brave CF and showed his dominating, gritty style transitioned perfectly to the pro ranks. He is currently 5-0-0 as a professional and making waves in the Brave flyweight division.
With only 2 amateur MMA bouts to her name at the time, Flyweight Viktoriya Dudakova entered the 2019 championships as a relative unknown outside of Russia.
Keen to make a statement, the highly decorated combat athlete opened her IMMAF career with a first round armbar over Charlotte Brown. Two decision victories later and Dudakova found herself winning gold at her maiden championship.
Dudakova was back on the IMMAF stage just 5 months later when she competed at the World Championships. After defeating Brazilian, Beatriz Consuli via unanimous decision, the Russian walked away with her second IMMAF medal, claiming a bronze.
Since turning professional in September 2020, Dudakova has amassed an impressive 3-0-0 record, with all victories coming by way of submission. In a recent interview with Alexander Iazykov of the RMMAU, Dudakova revealed that her next bout takes place on June 12th under the Open FC banner and if she has her hand raised, she’ll be competing for the promotional title.
Salamat Isbulaev made a big statement to the rest of the Lightweight division at the 2019 European Championship, dominating the competition from the first day to the last. In his first two bouts of the championship, Isbulaev spent less than 3 minutes in the cage with two, first round KO/TKOs. The latter of which, a spectacular spinning back kick against Daniel Schordje, scored the 18-2-0 amateur the 2019 Performance Of The Year. Isbulaev showed his impressive work rate on day 3, securing a unanimous decision victory over Marko Sarasjärvi, followed by another KO/TKO stoppage on day 4.
In the final, Isbulaev faced the toughest challenge of his amateur career against then 12-0-0, Antonio Marti of Spain. After 3 hard fought rounds, the Russian had his hand raised and handed Marti the first defeat of his amateur career in the process.
The Russian has not competed since the championships but will be looking to certify his dominance at 155lbs on home soil.
Kazakhstan finished joint fourth at the Junior European Championships, with stand out star Anatoliy Zolotykh winning the nation’s only gold. Showing his diverse skill set, Zolotykh produced an array of finishes en route to gold, including a slick and extremely rarely witnessed kneebar from his opponents back.
Zolotykh is vastly becoming a perennial contender in the 145lbs division and claiming another gold medal at this year’s Championships would put him as a driving force in the increasingly impressive Kazakhstan team.
As for the Federations competing, Russia will be looking for a repeat performance of 2019. They topped both the Junior and the Senior medal tables, collecting a staggering 10 gold medals across both divisions. Bahrain also had a successful tournament in 2019, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Senior and Junior divisions, respectfully.
Federations will be announcing their trails in the near future and more information will be available on IMMAF.org.