By Caoilte de Barra
The final day of the European Championships in Kazan started with a number of competitive fights in the Junior section. Bulgaria’s Tea Aresu was the first person to get her hand raised in the cage after a close fight that saw her close the distance and mix in her heavy hands to give her the edge in a split decision win.
Tajikistan continued to impress at the junior level through Otabek Rajabov and Behruz Khurshedzoda. Rajabov has been a standout throughout and was able to execute his striking and grappling to shut out Zhalal over all three rounds.
Welterweight prospect Danil Gubin claimed the IMMAF Junior Welterweight European Open Championship in his maiden tournament. The 19-year-old met Doszhan Kenzhebayev in a highly competitive, all Kazakhstan final. The fight itself was a clash of southpaw vs. orthodox and came down to the last bell. Gubin looked to finish it early in the final round before a late surge by Kenzhebayev brought it to the judge’s scorecards.
Kazakhstan was impressive in the tournament, especially in the junior section of the competition, despite losing half of their team due to the Covid epidemic.
Abayomi Tope David Samuel then treated us to yet another wrestling clinic, using his monster double leg takedown to cement each round. His game plan has been consistent and effective over the tournament making him one to keep an eye on in future.
We were treated to some close contested fights in the senior portion of the card. Magdalena Czaban and Jenna Horto kickstarted proceedings with a back and forth fight.
An unfortunate head clash resulted in a nasty cut on Jenna Horto but the fight continued. Czaban had her moments momentarily locking in an airtight guillotine while in mount but it wasn’t enough. Horto had a big moment where she threatened a rear-naked choke that got close, she continued to sit on her punches and hunt a finish with no luck. The fight was closely contested with Czaban retaining her title as European Champion.
Our first finish of the main card came via Paulina Kontna, she was adamant to secure a crucifix position, which she did in the third round. From there hammer fists were raining down forcing the referee to stop in and call a halt to the match-up. The ever dominant Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa went three rounds for a second time in as many days, parking the brakes on Jozwiak’s own efforts to be crowned champion.
Russian athletes Gadzhimurad Zavaev and Omaraskhab Yusupov both took home gold following two well-rounded performances where they were able to show off a welcome mix of striking and grappling. Zavaev had to grind out his win after being dropped twice in round two but his surge in round three to take the fight was admirable.
As we moved to the Heavier division, Bahrain’s Rasul Magomedov defeated the 2019 Junior World Light Heavyweight Champion Omar Aliev to claim the top spot in the Heavyweight division. The final fight of the day saw the only other finish in the senior ranks. At Super Heavyweight, Russia’s Zaurbek Magomedov scored a huge head kick in the third round, following it up with some huge punches forcing the referee to step in and call a halt to the fight.
Overall the tournament was a success with the home nation topping the table. Over the week we’ve seen some fantastic fights with non-stop action. Next up is the first ever edition of the IMMAF World Cup which takes place in Prague, Czech Republic in a few short weeks time.