By Caoilte de Barra
The third day of the 2021 IMMAF Junior and Senior European Open got off to an explosive start with the Juniors bringing the heat early before we got onto the senior action later in the afternoon.
In cage 1, Kazakhstan’s Salauat Kabi impressed yet again but this time he left the cage unscathed. Kabi came out strong and starched his opponent with an overhand right sending him to the mat with the referee stepping in before any further damage could be inflicted.
Tajikstan had a promising set of results in the Junior segment of the tournament: Aliakbar Arzaqulov, Behruz Khurshedzoda and Otabek Rajabov all picked up victories to secure a medal position.
The Bulldog Choke was popular in the early half of the day too. Nabigula Mutalimov relentlessly secured a bulldog choke finish in his fight. A few fights later Danil Gubin followed suit, but he used the position to lock in a Rear-Naked Choke and get the submission in what was a tale of two rounds against Spaniard Manuel Navarro De Brito.
Nikolay Hitov put on a strong showing in cage 2 getting the edge over Poland’s Karol Durszlewicz. A fast-paced start saw both fighters go toe to toe. From the second round onwards we saw a grappler vs. striker style fight. Hitov being the stronger grappler in this one and despite some submission attempts from Durszlewicz, the Bulgarian fighter took the win via decision.
After switching over to the senior section there was an instant buzz as Ayan Tursyan provided some quality high paced entertainment in her win over Anna Safeeva. We didn’t have to wait very long after to see two of the most highly anticipated women in action. 2019 Featherweight World Champion Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa was up first, showing excellent fight IQ and overall ability to see the distance for the first time in a win over Nina Kharinova.
Michelle Montague was on immediately after for her first-ever Featherweight bout in an IMMAF competition. A tentative first round raised question marks but the second round saw her dominate and finish the fight via Ground and Pound. In Cage 2, European and World Grappling Champion Sara Jozwiak was some levels above her opponent, taking her down and raining hammer fists to finish the fight.
Yerulan Kabdulov likely pulled off the best submission of the day with a beautiful flying triangle choke to get his opponent, Khizri Kakaev out of there in less than two minutes of the first round.
Shortly after the midway point of the day, we welcomed back the ever stacked Welterweight division. Bahrain standouts Gitinov and Guseinov continued their dominant reign over the division as they both guaranteed themselves a medal.
The day rounded off with the heavier divisions where Russia dominated all but two fights from Middleweight to Heavyweight. In Cage 2, Bahrain’s Rasul Magomedov rounded off the day with a straightforward decision win over his Finnish opponent in his IMMAF debut. He looked like he could be a problem in the next round.
All in all, it was a day full of fantastic fights and we look forward to seeing each fighter return to the cage again tomorrow.