By Jake Smith
Highlight reel knockouts, slick submissions, dominating decisions and an intriguing matchup between the pound for pound best at Senior and Junior; fans were treated to a little bit of everything at Day 4 of the 2021 IMMAF Junior and Senior European Open Championships.
The penultimate day of the competition produced some incredible performances across both the junior and senior divisions, with returning medalists and new prospects securing their spot at finals day.
2019 Senior World and European Champion Ramazan Gitinov will face Junior World and European Champion Murad Guseinov in an all-Bahrani clash for the 2021 European Welterweight gold. Both men have shone throughout the tournament, with many fans hoping this bout would materialise.
Although not as dominant as he had been in previous opening rounds, Gitinov still managed to dictate the pace of his semi-final contest against Evgeny Morozov, successfully negating his way out of a kneebar attempt. Round two had it all, heavy strikes and high level grappling exchanges. Round three saw Gitinov return to his natural style, landing a takedown mid way through the round and grinding out a hard earned unanimous decision.
On the other side of the bracket, Guseinov faced hard hitting Daniil Shirokov. The two opened the show exchanging big shots, one of which opened up a nasty cut on Shirokov’s face, which was already marked from wounds sustained in previous bouts. After being given the all clear from the ringside doctor to continue in between rounds, Shirokov came out with a different game plan and shot for a takedown, only to be caught in a d’arce and forced to tap.
Ayan Tursyn scored one of the knockouts of the tournament against Martina Corradi, to secure her place in the Strawweight final. 30 seconds into the first round, Tursyn threw a huge spinning back fist, sending Corradi crashing to the mat, then continued to dominate throughout the rest of the round. The second round started much as the first, with Tursyn once again looking for that spinning back fist, only to find herself too close to her opponent and warned by the referee as she nearly connected with an elbow. The bout was restarted and it was third time a charm for Tursyn who threw yet another backfist, landing inch perfect on the chin of Corradi this time and putting the Italian to sleep.
Aieza Ramos Bertolso secured her place in the final with a grappling masterclass against Nurzhamal Sadykova. Bertolso looked as if she was set to finish the bout in the first, when she locked up a vicious armbar, to which somehow, Sadykova survived. In round 2, Bertolso’s grappling prowess was once again on display and she finished the bout with a rear naked choke.
The reigning and now defending champion, Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa moved into the Featherweight final following a flawless display against IMMAF Lightweight Golden Girl Michelle Montague, handing the New Zealand native the first loss of her career in the process. Da Sousa’s striking performance alongside her with sublime head movement and takedown defence utterly shutting out Montague.
Magdalena Czaban’s victory over junior world Bronze Medalist Inas Ashirbek moved her one step closer in the race for Atomweight gold. After displaying her high level striking, once there, the punches reigned down and the referee waved the contest off.
Tynyshtyk Zhanibek vs Sergey Shirkunov is set to be a fascinating clash for the Bantamweight gold medal. Zhanibek defeated Amirhamza Islamov after landing countless unanswered strikes before firing a knee to the mid section and dropping Islamov, finishing the bout with a second round TKO. Shirkunov looked fantastic on his feet, but showed versatility when the bout hit the floor and he tied up a gruesome armbar to defeat Kamil Gaziyavdibirov.
There were also good wins for Akhmed Nutsalkhanov, Omar Aliev and Rasul Magomedov.
Danil Gubin continued his emphatic run at his first IMMAF Championship, earning his spot in the Junior welterweight final with a unanimous decision victory over Dmitriy Vazhinskiy. Gubin has shown himself to be a complete mixed martial artist throughout the championships, securing victories via TKO, submission and decision. He takes on Doszhan Kenzhebayev in the final.
Otabek Rajabov maintained his undefeated record and Tajikistan’s impressive form at the championships, defeating stand-out star Salabut Kabi by unanimous decision, implementing the perfect game plan against the dangerous Kazakhstan fighter.
Elsewhere in the junior portion of the card, Shamil Kurbanov dispatched Nikola Ivanov in dominating style; landing an eye catching suplex just before the final bell. Kurbanov controlled the bout for the full nine minutes and earned his spot in the Light Heavyweight final. Abayomi Tope David Samuel impressed in his bout of the tournament, his power and strength proving too much for Alibi Pernebek. Sealing the victory in the second round, after chipping away and unloading powerful strikes while in mount for almost 2 minutes, he caught a slick triangle after Pernebek looked to escape from being stuck in the wrong side of a full mount.