By Jake Smith
As day three of the 2021 IMMAF Junior and Senior European Championships comes to an end, many athletes have cemented their names firmly in the ‘someone to watch’ category: Danil Gubin is a fine example.
The Junior Kazakhstan Welterweight entered the Championships as a complete unknown, having never competed in a mixed martial arts event before. In his opening bout, he faced the vastly experienced Kacper Kaczmarek of Poland.
In a striking masterclass, Gubin dispatched of the 18 fight veteran with ease. With a shot selection and fight IQ way beyond his experience should allow, Gubin ran away with the bout, never once looking in danger and turning a lot of heads. His forward moving style proved too much and made his mark at the earliest possible opportunity.
Day two poised a completely different challenge for Gubin, in the shape of Manuel Navarro De Brito. De Brito had also had one of the best performances of the day two, so naturally many people were drawn to see how the bout would play out.
In the opening round, De Brito picked up where he left off the previous day, and although Gubin was getting the better of the exchanges early on, De Brito continuously grew into the round at a steady pace, the constant work rate paid off when with just under a minute to go De Brito slicky took the IMMAF debutant’s back and sank in a deep Rear Naked Choke. It was touch and go as to whether Gubin could make it to the bell, his face reddening more and more by the second as De Brito tightened his grip. The air horn to signify the end of the round would have been music to Gubin’s ears.
The Kazakhstan man entered the second round a different athlete. The tables completely turned and it was Gubin the aggressor throughout, rekindling elements of his captivating performance yesterday. His serious effort culminated in clinching a unique looking Bulldog Choke, forcing De Brito to tap with only 5 seconds of the round 2 left on the clock.
In the semi-final, Gubin will face Dmitriy Vazhinskiy. Although the Russian has only competed once in the tournament, after receiving a bye in the first round of the draw, he has already spent more time in the cage than Gubin in Kazan, having claimed a split decision victory against Qosim Sardorov.
With Murad Guseinov moving to the senior division following his domination at 170lbs in 2019, time will tell if Gubin will be the man to step up and take the crown; claiming a medal at his first tournament is certainly a step in the right direction.