IMMAF World Cup Prague, Day 2 Roundup
By Jorden Curran
The quarter-finals of the IMMAF World Cup series in Prague was kicked off by the breakthrough nation of 2021 so far; Otabek Rajabov of Tajikistan, the reigning junior European Open champion, advanced via TKO in the men’s junior bantamweight bracket. Rajabov will be joined in the semi-finals by national teammate Behruz Khurshedzoda, the European Open junior lightweight gold medallist, who needed just 30 seconds to force his own TKO stoppage.
After a shaky start in the junior ranks on Day 1, Ukraine returned with a vengeance and went undefeated across all junior bouts with four victories en route to the semi-finals, all via unanimous decision with the exception of Denys Kuteliia who submitted the host nation’s Jakub Nikitinsky with a rear-naked-choke. The competition remained stiffer for Ukraine’s senior team, going 4-4 with some surprise results in the form of Norway’s Per Kjetil Haglund Tonnessen taking a unanimous decision victory over Ukraine, and Estonia’s Ergo Reinvald edging a hard-fought split-decision. Light-heavyweight Dmytro Babynskyi pulled off Ukraine’s highlight win of the day: an opening round TKO triumph.
Junior Bahrain standouts Murad Ibragimov and Gimbat Magomedov also progressed, Ibragimov secured a head & arm triangle choke within 63 seconds of his quarter-final bout while Magomedov won a unanimous decision in what was an entertaining contest against Emmeet Corr of the amalgamated Ireland team. In the senior divisions Mansur Magomedov advanced as a top standout of the men’s flyweight tournament, despite some competitive striking the wrestling of the former Asia and Africa Open champion was too advanced for Ireland’s Gary Rooney. Men’s bantamweight Abdulla Mubarak also triumphed for Bahrain, however, men’s lightweight medal favourite Shamil Gimbatov was forced to withdraw due to a failed medical following his Day 1 win, and stepped aside for Tajikistan’s Ikromjon Ahmedov to advance with a bye.
Norway’s Iskhan Ayupov also advanced via unanimous decision in the junior featherweight division and Lithuania’s Mykolas Korsakovas continued to earmark himself as an exciting new prospect with a first round TKO to follow his dominant Day 1 performance.
Germany’s senior quartet all picked up wins to book their places in the semi-finals. Rising star and former junior gold world medallist Anna Gaul made her senior debut with an arm-bar in the opening round against Ukraine’s Henriietta Tsukerman. Gaul now faces decorated Swedish standout Nina Back on Friday to decide one half of the women’s strawweight final. At light-heavyweight Patrick Drescher returned to the IMMAF platform for the first time since 2016 and pulled off an impressive arm-bar of his own in the final second of the first round against Saudi Arabia’s Ibrahim Fallatah. In addition, former European Open silver medalist Renana Bruckstein submitted her Estonian rival with an Americana in the second round and welterweight Kevin Enz advanced via a split-decision.
Sweden’s seniors going 5-4 on quarter-finals day serves to highlight just how far many nations have come since the Swedish team’s dominant golden years from 2016 to late 2018. Women’s strawweight Josefine Modig was among Sweden’s standouts with a TKO win over the Czech Republic’s Marketa Urbanova. It was a competitive day between Sweden and Ireland in the senior ranks with Oskar Jaskari and Daniyal Shamkhalov taking wins over the Emerald Isle, while Solomon Simon snatched an opening round TKO against Sweden’s experienced Tobias Soderberg. Heavyweight Jonnie Andersson had previously gone just 1-1 on the IMMAF platform but earned his moment to shine with a big TKO statement to finish world bronze medallist and experienced home country favourite, Jindrich Krajca. Also in the senior heavyweight ranks, Slovenia’s Miha Frlic earned a unanimous decision over Ireland’s Trevor Makengo, who battled hard to finish multiple kimura attempts, but the former World and European junior silver medalist was unable to complete the submission from a bottom position.
It was a difficult day for the Czech team with the host nation facing a devastating tally, going 7 bouts without a win in the senior divisions, not including Kamila Simkova who was unable to pass her pre-fight medical. However, the Czech junior prospects finished on 4-4 with featherweight hopeful Erik Kutil producing the standout victory with a classy knee-bar submission over Irishman Liam Hand.