By Caoilte de Barra
The last time we saw a new Junior Bantamweight fighter crowned was back in 2018 when Muhammad Mokaev burst onto the scene and the division has not had a new champion since Mokaev turned pro.
There is a lot to live up to for the next fighter that wins the title tomorrow. Their predecessor went on to be a UFC fighter and one of the hottest prospects around the World. Mokaev has been involved with the World Championships in a different capacity this year. He stepped into the corner on occasion to assist his teammates.
Tomorrow will mark the day when a new champion is crowned. It’s been two years and a lot has happened since then. Otabek Rajabov looked to be the one to take over for Mokaev but after crashing out of the competition, two new prospects have emerged.
RMMAU athlete Asef Chopurov took out the 2021 IMMAF Junior fighter of the year, Otabek Rajabov in the round of 16 in what was a massive upset. Before this Rajabov was after winning the 2021 European Open and World Cup. He was highly touted to win the competition, however, Chopurov had other ideas. The IMMAF competition debutant has been in action every day so far.
His explosiveness and wrestling ability has stood out significantly on his route to the final. The opening day saw him take out Ziyodov. Following the Rajabov fight, he defeated Spain’s Benavides with an Arm Triangle choke. On Day 4 he worked his way to the final by outpointing Ramazan Ragimov.
Across from him in the final will be Ivan Pasych. The Ukrainian fighter, also making his first IMMAF appearance, defeated Hamad Marhoon in his opening fight on Day 2.
On Day 3 he took on France’s Souhil Arezki and outpointed him to set up a big semi-final bout with Murad Ibragimov. Ibragimov was strong, however, at the buzzer of the first round, it was Pasych that managed to secure an armbar to win the fight.
The division has an incredible history and the Junior finals tomorrow will decide who will inherit the division that of the greatest IMMAF fighters of all time once ruled.