By Jake Smith
The best of the best across European Amateur MMA were on display at the second day of the 2021 IMMAFJunior and Senior European Championships.
IMMAF’s pound for pound world ranked number one, Ramazan Gitinov, marked his opening bout with a statement of intent, finishing a tough Musa Ramazanov with a second-round rear-naked choke. The heavy pressure and slick striking synonymous with Gitinov was on display for all to see in round one, with his crisp boxing and flawless level changes demonstrating the variations he has in his skillset. After a perfectly timed trip in the second round, Gitinov used his extensive fight IQ to bide his time before throwing his hooks in and locking up a short rear-naked choke.
Fellow Bahraini Murad Guseinov also put on a masterclass display to claim his first victory of the championships, with the European and World Junior Gold medalist continuing his fine form in the senior ranks. His opponent Meirkhan Shapolatov appeared to be struggling to find his rhythm, which was made more difficult by Guseinov’s relentless forward movement. Guseinov’s strength, of which had been displayed throughout the bout, came to fruition in the third, when he dispatched Shapolatov to the mat and tied up a head and arm choke in round three. In the quarter-finals, Guseinov will meet Tajikistan stand out Jovidon Mahmudov, who continued his fine form with a first-round guillotine choke over Dario Petrolo.
2019 Junior Flyweight gold medalist Akhmed Nutsalkhanov opened his senior division tenure with a second-round rear-naked choke against Spain’s Gonzalo Cortes Benitez. He now proceeds to the next round, as do 12 more of his countrymen in what was a very successful day for the home nation.
Ali Gadzhiyev claimed a big scalp in the form of 2019 Euro and World bronze medalist Antoni Josep Marti Segarra. In an extremely acrobatic opening round, Segarra was caught in a solid guillotine attempt seconds into the first round, which resulted in the Spaniard running up the cage to try to escape before being slammed hard. The bout continued at an extremely high pace throughout with Gadzhiyev overpowering Segarra’s ground game with clean reversals and sweeps, leading to a unanimous decision.
Spanish champion Jose Borja Perez Rojas almost found himself in one of the upsets of the day, when he was caught in a tight guillotine against Portuguese debutant Paulo Vieira, early in the first round of the bout. However, Rojas stayed calm, used his experience and managed to incredibly impressively reverse the submission and clinch up a d’arce and finish the contest; pulling off what could well be one of the submissions of the tournament.
The Bulgarian team enjoyed their opening day in cage 1, going three from three with Miroslav Hristov, Yordan Marinov and Deyan Galinov all picking up victories. Finland’s Marko Sarasjarvi handed Jakub Pierwola of Poland his first loss with a unanimous decision. Sarajarvi’s superior jiu-jitsu skills led to several armbar and triangle attempts and a ground game masterclass only shy of a finish was used to cement his victory.
In the junior portion of the card, cage 1 played host to Kazakhstan dominance, with four of their five athletes leaving with their hands raised.
Nurbol Kulzhabaye and Olzhas Bitassov demonstrated seamless ground games against Idris Kvadzhaev and Ivan Zhelyazkov, respectively. Both men locked off fight-ending submissions in the first round of their contests.
Danil Gubin made his mark in the final event junior bout of Day 2 in Cage 1. From the first bell, his pressure was relentless, constantly pushing Kacper Kaczmarekand backwards. A flurry of clinical, devastating blows to the head and the body were enough for the referee to wave the contest off.
Salauat Kabi and Miguel Navarro De Brito were the standouts in Cage 2. Kabi managed the distance well and displayed an extremely high level of grappling, coming close with an omoplata attempt in round two; although it was a split decision, Kabi appeared to be more than comfortable against Dzavkharali Nuraliev and proceeded to the next round.
Spain’s De Brito proved his worth in his contest against Russian, Nurmagomed Pashaev. As witnessed in many Spanish bouts on Day 2, the bout opened with a quick tempo; both athletes exchanging submission attempts within the first minute! De Brito found his way in round two, utterly dominating Pashaev for the full round. This form continued into round three, with the Spaniard cruising to a comfortable decision win.