By Jorden Curran
Spanish MMA talent Enrique Hecher Sosa has moved to 2-0 as a professional contender.
Sosa, 25, defeated his rival with a head & arm triangle choke in the opening round of their main card EPF 1 bout on June 19.
As an international amateur standout Sosa was the athlete who first drew attention to Spain and the nation’s potential to earn medals on the IMMAF platform. After previous outings at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships and 2018 European Open, in which he failed to reach the podium, Sosa was a breakout talent at the historic IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships in 2018, where three unanimous decision triumphs saw him reach the semi-finals for a face off against Delyan Georgiev, an icon of amateur MMA under IMMAF as Bulgaria’s two-time World champion and European Open gold medallist.
It was Georgiev who would go on to the finals and claim the gold medal, but it took a split decision for him to get past Sosa. When many past challengers have frozen up when faced with Bulgarian’s prolific counter attacks and takedown assault, onlookers were captivated by the Spaniard’s heart and self-belief to strenuously defend as many takedowns as possible and push the pace and pressure the tournament’s top seed.
To this day, Sosa believes he did enough to best Georgiev. “I think I won that fight,” he states. “He won the first round; I won the second and third round. [I believe] the judges put more points for the takedowns, but I dominate the striking…I’m happy for the medal but I wanted the gold.”
Spain would return in force to the IMMAF platform in 2019. After returning home as a World bronze medallist, Sosa earned a second national title and would enter the 2019 IMMAF Africa Open in South Africa, where he claimed the gold medal.
The Spanish national team returned in numbers for the 2019 European Open. A squad of two-dozen athletes continued the momentum that Sosa had started and were the most talked about team heading into the semi-finals. Four Spanish athletes, including Sosa, reached the final 4 of their respective weight categories and left a trail of upsets in their wake. Among them, bantamweight Alvaro Ucendo secured decision wins over the likes of dangerous Swedish standout Jonny Touma and Magomedrasul Gusengadzhiev of the highly accomplished Russian national team. Furthermore, Antoni Segarra would overcome top Welsh standout Scott Pedersen, and also snatch a momentous split-decision win over the reigning world champion, Ireland’s Lee Hammond, in arguably the biggest individual triumph of the tournament.
It had become clear that the heart displayed by Sosa at the previous year’s World Championships was in fact reflective of the Spanish team character; a never-say-die attitude, unrelenting and without fear as one after another they entered as underdogs and pestered the world’s top medal prospects. Both Ucendo and Segarra went on to earn silver medals at the European Open and flyweight competitor Rafael Calderon Coria achieved bronze. Meanwhile in the men’s featherweight tournament, Sosa was once again in the semi-finals, going to war with top seed Abdulmanap Magomedov who clinched the decision triumph after a gruelling encounter.
With a pair of silver medals as well as two bronze medals, Spain took ninth place in the European championship’s medal table, placing ahead of historically decorated nations including Bulgaria, Ireland and Finland. Sosa is proud to look back on the team’s breakthrough achievements, but he is also certain that Spanish talent can achieve much more as soon as the national team can achieve more support and funding to help sustain consistent participation and training for the highest level of competition.
“We were a good team, but Spain lacks a stronger [financial] base, every fighter is looking for a life of being able to compete but can’t just focus on training, they have to work to be able to go to the championships. When that changes there will be many medals and even better results.”
Out of 62 ranked nations, Spain are currently in 20th place within the IMMAF senior team world rankings, inbetween England (19) and Romania (21). With the FELUCHA Spanish MMA Federation having recently completed its 2021 national championships, athlete qualifying will soon be confirmed for the latest Spain squad as the national team readies itself for the 2021 IMMAF European Open, taking place 16- 20 August in Kazan, Russia.