By Caoilte de Barra
The opening day of the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior European Championships kicked off in style in Kazan. Over the coming days, the capital of Tatarstan – known as Russia’s “City of Sport” will see more than 200 athletes compete inside the IMMAF arena.
Just after 2 pm local time the opening ceremony began by welcoming everyone to the competition and Kazan, formally recognized as the sports capital of Russia. Before welcoming the athletes we were treated to a flavour of the local arts in the form of a spectacular musical performance. Upon the end of the performance, a range of highlights was shown to highlight and celebrate the importance of sport in Russia
The next segment saw a representative from each of the participating nations were welcomed to the stage for the formal part of the ceremony. The host nation of Russia was welcomed to the stage to an ovation from the crowd.
Once we welcomed the athletes, the official representatives from IMMAF, local parliament and the RMMAU were brought to the stage to speak and thank all involved in the tournament. IMMAF president Kerrith Brown praised all involved and was thankful for all the help and work that went into hosting the championships.
“It’s been an amazing opening day. The hosts have done a fantastic job in preparing for this event, especially considering the COVID restrictions and I’m looking forward to watching the athletes competing at the highest level to showcase the sport globally.”
The ceremony was rounded off by asking everyone to stand for the National anthems of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tatarstan.
Overall it was run to a highly professional standard and had a real Olympic feel to it, emphasizing the calibre of the tournament. After the ceremony, the action began instantly as MC Ricky Wright welcomed the first two fighters of the competition to the cage for the openers of 16 bouts.
Samur Magamedkhanov of Russia made his way to the cage first followed by Tajikistan’s Jovidon Mahmudov. Magamedkhanov looked strong in the opening round, securing a takedown early and looking very strong early on top of his opponent, arguably taking the round.
This wasn’t the case for very long though as Mahumudov soon realised he had the upper hand on the ground. Not long into the second round, he was in top position using the knee on belly position effectively to rain down hammerfists forcing the referee to step in and call a stop to the fight.
The pacing of fights was seamless as we went from one fight to the other in an instant.
The second bout saw Poland’s Patryk Semeniuk take on Kazakhstan’s Meirkhan Shapolatov in what was the first orthodox vs. southpaw fight of the tournament. The first round saw some slick footwork and technical striking to tee off some strikes without over committing to them.
Semeniuk came out throwing some aesthetically pleasing kicks before being rushed with some heavy strikes. Without panic, he managed to get his opponent down and get into a dominant, non-traditional side control position where he rode out the remainder of the round.
The third round certainly looked as though Shapolatov learned from the previous round and adjusted his tactics. The bout saw the judges being put to use for the first time of the competition where a razor-thin split decision went in the favour of Meirkhan Shapolatov.
The fight concluded the opening day of the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior European Open Championships where we got a flavour for some of the local culture as well as some competitive action that sets us up for the 45 bouts that will take place tomorrow across two cages. All the information for tomorrow’s fights can be found on My Next Match and you can watch all of the action live on IMMAF.TV.