By Jorden Curran
Two of the newest standouts to emerge on the international IMMAF platform have kept up momentum and announced themselves with title winning performances on the UK regional scene, within the Cage Warriors Academy circuit.
Norway’s Cecile Bolander and Kosovo’s Arlind Berisha made their IMMAF debuts at the 2021 IMMAF World Cup series event in Prague during September.
The Norwegian national team returned to the IMMAF platform with a bang and 25-year-old Bolander captured gold in the women’s featherweight tournament, submitting Ukraine’s Marianna Skuba and the Czech Republic’s Kamila Simkova, both via arm-bar in the opening round.
At just age 20, Arlind Berisha ushered a historic debut under the IMMAF banner for the nation of Kosovo, sensationally winning the heavyweight gold medal with successive guillotine choke submissions over Ukraine’s Yaroslav Strillets and Oleksandr Horodniuk.
Having competed at his natural bodyweight for the IMMAF World Cup tournament, Berisha increased his experience of dropping to light-heavyweight for a single bout in the UK’s South-East Cage Warriors Academy, winning the division title on October 9 by finishing Iceland’s Guolaugar Por Einarsson with a crippling body kick. Norway’s Bolander captured the South-East featherweight title, again with a signature arm-bar stoppage, again in the opening round, against UK based Lithuanian, Erika Vorobjova.
Adding to their IMMAF exploits at the premier level of amateur MMA, the Cage Warriors Academy is an attractive pathway for European talents eyeing up a route towards the professional Cage Warriors ranks, exemplified by former IMMAF standouts such as Christian Duncan. At the pro level, Cage Warriors is an organisation with worldwide credibility as a proven springboard to the UFC, with athletes such as undefeated UFC contender Jack Shore, a former IMMAF European Open champion, among the standout CWFC alumni.