By Jorden Curran
It’s not often that we get to see two reigning IMMAF world champions collide, but the 2021 European Open Championships have served up just that. Within an exceptional women’s featherweight final 4, Michelle Montague and Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa are set to collide in one of the biggest matchups to date between standouts at the premier level of amateur MMA.
Reigning IMMAF lightweight world champion and IMMAF rising star, Michelle Montague, made her debut in the feathering division at the Europeans in Kazan, Russia. The top New Zealand talent and City Kickboxing representative is also a two-time IMMAF Oceania gold medallist, member of the New Zealand Olympic wrestling team and a multi-time national BJJ champion in both gi and nogi.
It was a signature performance for Montague in the quarter-finals against Russian national medallist Elena Vetrova. After a reserved opening round to assess her rival, the undefeated Kiwi star swiftly secured her takedown early in the second round before passing to full mount and unleashing a blitz of precision strikes to force the TKO.
Meanwhile, current IMMAF featherweight world champion, Sabrina De Sousa, picked apart Russian national champion Nina Kharinova. Bahrain’s De Sousa landed precise fists and leg kicks with conviction to stand out against her taller rival and look to cap off the rounds with takedowns to eliminate any doubt in the minds of the judges.
Like Montague, De Sousa carries an undefeated amateur MMA record and stormed to the 2019 world championships gold medal with 4 consecutive submission triumphs and three victories coming in the opening round.
The compelling semi-final contest offers several stark contrasts, De Sousa being the shorter natural featherweight against the tall powerhouse of Montague who for this championship drops to 145lbs from her regular presence at 155lbs where she has reigned supreme. Brazil native De Sousa is the most rounded of the two athletes, more experienced as a striker yet having consistently and comfortably outshined her opponents both while standing, and on the ground. However, the featherweight queen is yet to experience such a physically daunting foe, as is Montague with her own unstoppable elite ground-game and takedowns.
On the opposite side of the bracket is Alena Agisheva, Russia’s national silver medallist, who advanced to the semi-finals with a unanimous decision over Christina Papasotiriou of Greece. Completing the women’s featherweight final 4 will be Agisheva seeking revenge on behalf of her national team-mate, against Poland’s Sara Jozwiak. Making her international IMMAF debut, Jozwiak displayed exceptionally quick transitions on the ground en route to snatching a TKO stoppage over Russia’s Alina Markelova.
You can follow the livestream action in Kazan at IMMAF.TV