By Jake Smith
The men’s Bantamweight division will see a new world champion crowned in Abu Dhabi. But will a former medalist climb to the top of the standings or could a new face become the best at 135lbs? With all 32 positions filling up instantly, the packed out division promises to deliver.
Only two of the four 2021 European Championships medallists will be returning at the World Championships.
Tynyshtyk Zhanibek shone when he claimed gold in Kazan. This will be Zhanibek’s second World Championships, he was outed on day three of his first tournament in 2019 against Muhammad Mokaev. After almost 2 years away from the cage, Zhanibek was back and ready to impress at the 2021 European Championships. Four bouts, and four wins, in as many days took the Kazakhstan Bantamweight to the top of the pile at 135lbs. Zhanibek could find himself ranked #1 with another medal in Abu Dhabi.
Tajikistan will be aiming for a Junior and Senior gold medal shut out following their European Championship success. The nation medalled in both the Junior and Senior divisions, with Otabek Rajabov and Amirhamza Islamov taking home gold and bronze, respectively. Debuting at the European championships, Islamov instantly needed to find his top form when facing 25-bout amateur veteran Tobiasz Le in the opening round. He then beat Jose Borja Perez Before coming up short against European Champion Zhanibek in the final.
All four World Cup medalists will be back in action, all keen to add a World Championship medal to their collections.
After struggling to find his feet in his first few attempts on IMMAF platforms, Italy’s Fidel Gramiccia’s tenacious attitude & unfaltering commitment paid off in his fourth time of asking. Entering the World Cup on a three fight skid, Gramiccia felt he had everything to prove and that he did, with three decision victories taking him to the top of the podium.
Taylor Quinn helped Ireland clinch 4th spot in the senior medal table at the World Cup. In what was his first IMMAF tournament, Quinn opened his account impressively with a first round submission on day one. He picked up a TKO victory off his back on day two before an armbar secured his place in the final. Wanting to remain active, Quinn has competed three times since the World Cup, picking up one victory and two defeats.
Away from the familiar faces, there will be plenty of athletes looking to make a statement at the first time of asking at an IMMAF Championship. Malaysia’s Alexander Lew enters the championship on a five fight winning streak. Russian neutral athlete Shakhban Gapizov will no doubt be looking to replicate Gadzhimurad Zavaev’s success at 135lbs. Cooper Smith, Daniel Bainbridge & Movsar Ibragimov have also racked up impressive streaks ahead of their debut at these championships.
All World Championships action can be viewed live on immaf.tv.