By Jorden Curran
It was a super start for the host nation on opening day of the inaugural IMMAF World Cup Series in Prague. Starting off the day in the junior men’s featherweight tournament Jindrich Ungr successfully represented the Czech Republic against the highly ranked team Ukraine, completing a rear naked choke submission over Day 1 rival, Yehor Naboka.
In the senior championships, the event hosts would find themselves on the wrong end of results for the most part, yet Vojtech Khol would regain ground for the Czech Republic and looked impressive with an opening round arm-bar submission.
It remained a difficult start to the junior World Cup for Ukraine, despite the national team’s prominence, as men’s junior bantamweight Vadym Kornelishyn conceded a unanimous decision loss to the Mikael Aclipen of Iceland, who’s own national team may be small in numbers yet never ceases to produce standout talent on the IMMAF stage. Similarly, Lithuania’s Mykolas Korsakovasstood out as one of the most formidable junior talents of the day, securing an arm-bar submission win over Ukraine’s Yevhenii Kliuchnikov, further highlighting the growing scale of talent across all national teams, big and small. However, Ukraine found their footing in the senior Championships with a 4-0 sweep of victories.
Ukraine would regain ground however, in the junior bantamweight tournament where Oleksandr Huliaiev secured a triangle choke submission over his Norwegian rival. Team Norway returns to the IMMAF platform this week after a multi-year hiatus from the competitive scene, and junior featherweight Fabian Ufs was the first to mark the occasion with victory, submitting Iceland’s Aron Franz in just 34 seconds upon swiftly securing an arm-bar.
Slovakia has been a breakthrough nation of the 2021 thus far, producing world champions at the IMMAF Youth World Championships earlier this year and following up with fine displays of talent at the European Open, and Mario Brezovsky continued the trend with fine rounded skills displayed in the junior featherweight category, out-striking his Greek rival before securing an armbar on the ground.
The sizable Irish contingent makes history this week in Prague with an all-Ireland MMA squad represented for the first time at the junior/senior level, following the progressive amalgamation of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland bodies. Ryan Keogh, also in the featherweight tournament, picked up a first triumph for the united Irish team and marked the occasion with a TKO stoppage. In the senior divisions, Ireland went 5-2 with standout performances from Gary Rooney and Damien McKenna, Rooney via an opening round triangle choke over his Swedish rival Awat Kohzadi Mirhasari, while McKenna battled to a unanimous decision over Lithuania’s Konstantin Moksin.
Bahrain teammates and tournament standouts, Gimbat Magomedov and Shamil Gibatov, both cruised to opening day victories by way of unanimous decision while Tajikistan also went 2 wins for 2, including Manuchehr Rioev who’s spinning backfist stoppage of Ireland’s Patrick Moran was a standout performance of the day.
The tasty finishes were free flowing for what was a lively opening day of action, and senior Spanish featherweight Juan Izquierdo offered his contribution with a stellar Americana submission in the second round against the host nation’s Michal Miller, while Spain’s leading standout, Antoni Josep Marti Segarra, advanced with a bye in the senior lightweight tournament, his opponent failing a medical examination.