By Jake Smith
The Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation will be looking to continue their fine form at the IMMAF World Championships following their standout performances at the inaugural IMMAF World Cup back in September.
In what ended up being a very successful tournament for the Federation, they found themselves on the podium 9 times; a feat which saw the Swedes soar to the top of the medal table with eye-catching performances.
Some of those successful athletes make up a part of their 14 athlete strong 2021 World Championships team, alongside athletes with varying amounts of IMMAF experience, from former world champions to IMMAF debutants. Team Captain, Anders Olssen, believes there is potential for the federation to claim more medals at the World Championships. He said:
“We have a solid team going to Abu Dhabi and the Worlds; Some veterans and some new athletes. Some of them I consider medal candidates for sure.”
Rising star Josefine Modig is coming in after her successful World Cup performance. And Featherweight hopeful Daniyal Shamkhalov is a hard fight for anybody.
“Sebbe Gonzalez is going for gold in his last amateur championship before turning pro. Daniel Karlsson is new to the team but I have big hopes for this guy, he can give the strong wrestling based nations something to chew on!”
“Champ champ Bezan is back in the team and she wants that triple champ. The veterans in the team are great for the newer athletes, they know how everything works and can share their experiences.”
“Yrsa Sandin is going for gold as usual, with a great chance of getting it!”
The last two years have been far from ideal in terms of MMA due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anders explained how Sweden navigated the issues to the best of their ability to continue the team’s development.
“2021 and 2020 were not the best years for our sport. Staying 2m apart and doing MMA is a hard equation to solve.
“Sweden did not close down completely like many other countries. We were able to train in small groups. But of course, we could not train and meet up as usual. Everybody had to do a lot of training on their own.”
The pandemic also resulted in the federation having to change its selection process for the championships.
“Usually we have The Swedish MMA League that ends up in the Swedish Nationals. #1 and #2 in each weight category are the ones going to the championships.”
“But we were unable to do the Nationals due to restrictions so we picked from the 2019 national crew together with athletes that have performed well during the year before. So not the usual procedure but we feel we had a strong team for the World Cup in Prague and now for the Worlds in Abu Dhabi.”
In terms of goals set ahead of the tournament, Anders would be overjoyed to win some medals but insists as long as the athletes perform to the best of their ability, he will be an extremely happy captain.
“The Worlds are packed with talented fighters and it’s hard to go all the way to a medal. As long as everybody is performing at their maximum level I’m happy, but of course, we’re aiming for medals. A good result would be 3-5 medals, with this competition I would consider that successful.”