By Jake Smith
Several Tajikistan European Open Medalists return to the fray on Day 2 of the inaugural IMMAF World Cup, keen to continue building momentum on the IMMAF stage.
Despite having a relatively small team, which makes it harder to change athletes on a regular basis, the way in which Tajikistan has navigated a demanding competition schedule is down to an extremely professional set up.
The national team performed well across both the junior and senior brackets at the European Open in Kazan, with returning senior bronze medalists and two returning junior champions competing at the World Cup.
Otabek Rajabov displayed immense talent at the Euros, with two submission victories and a unanimous decision victory over one of the favourites Salauat Kabi, leading to an IMMAF final at his maiden tournament. There, he faced Jalal Abay in the final. Once again, Rajabov dominated the bout and clinched the coveted gold medal.
Behruz Khurshedzoda also claimed gold at the European championships and will be looking to solidify his IMMAF Junior credentials with a repeat at the World Cup. In the first round of the tournament, he faces Jan Masek.
In the senior ranks, European Bronze Medalist Bakhtiyor Husainov will be keen to add another IMMAF medal to his tally. He finds himself in one of the most competitive weight divisions of the World Cup, with 14 athletes set to compete.
European Bantamweight bronze medalist Amirhamza Islamov and lightweight bronze medalist Ikromjon Ahmedov are also set to feature.
The first day of the World Cup provided a perfect run of results for Tajikistan. Abubakr Baimuradov opened the senior section of cage two with a submission victory over Rickard Wickelgren, catching the Swedishman with a guillotine, with only one second left of the first round.
Manuchehr Rioev had one of the standout performances of the day, scoring a huge 1st round spinning back fist TKO over Patrick Moran.
All athletes competing have seen first hand what a successful tournament means to the country, with the Youth World Championship team receiving a hero’s welcome upon arriving back in Tajikistan. See their return below: