By James Eakin
One of the defining features of IMMAF competition is the emphasis on youth. Properly regulated, safe competition layouts have allowed young athletes to gain the vital experience needed to succeed with a professional career in MMA. As we look ahead to the IMMAF Youth World Championships in 2022, we shift our focus to a remarkable young athlete fighting out of SAI Club in Martin, Slovakia, Miroslav Mlyncek. When asked about his Martial Arts background, Mlyncek answered:
“When I was 4 years old I started training in SAI Club Martin with my brother. At the beginning it was more movement games but fluently it passes to BJJ. At 6 years old I had my first BJJ fight. Until now, I have had around 140 fights in BJJ. I also started with Muay Thai and after one-year I started with MMA. In Muay Thai I have 3 fights with 2 wins and 1 loss. In MMA I now have 9 fights with 8 wins and one loss.”
Now 14 years of age, Miroslav Mlyncek has already won medals in IMMAF competition, winning the Bronze medal in the Youth C (Male) 52 kg (115 lbs) at the 2021 Youth World Championships. Mlyncek successfully went 3-1 in the round robin tournament, before being passed through to the next stage.
The next stage of the competition saw two groups of four athletes compete against each other, with the top two athletes from each group advancing to the knockout stages. Mlyncek put on an incredible display, gaining decision wins over all three of his opponents, which included stand out performances over the top two teams in the Youth Worlds. Victories over Russia’s Gevorg Ambartsumian and Ukraine’s Dmytro Kolomiichuk, as well as a win over Lebanon’s Abdulrahman al Baba made Mlyncek an athlete to watch. Mlyncek described his thoughts at defeating opponents from the top 2 teams in the world, saying:
“In this time, I´m only hungry for fighting. I don´t think about who I´m fighting. I want to fight as much as possible. Of course, it’s a great feeling to beat opponents from countries with such a big history in martial arts. It´s showing me that we are going the right way in training.”
Unfortunately for Mlyncek, he would lose his semi-final bout to Ukraine’s Oleksii Bolbochan, who would eventually go on to win the gold medal. Mlyncek, who was the first Slovak fighter and medallist in IMMAF was overjoyed with his performances saying:
“It’s amazing. I´m the first Slovak fighter and medallist in IMMAF and I’m really proud that I can bring this medal to my country and my club.”
Mlyncek now looks ahead to the 2022 Youth World Championships, laying out his plans for the upcoming competition, stating:
“Youth Worlds 2021 was a great opportunity for me to compare my skills with the best fighters of the world. In 2022 I want to keep in training progress, compete as much as possible and come to Youth Worlds 2022 for gold in my category.”
Mlyncek is just one of many exciting prospects coming through in the Slovakian youth team, which also includes 2021 Youth A featherweight champion Slavka Holubjakova. We look forward to seeing both young talents excel at the 2022 IMMAF Youth World Championships!