By Jake Smith
The Tajikistan team are relishing the opportunity to face one of the tournament favourites, Bahrain, in the opening round of the Brave Super Cup. They are ready to prove that although still a developing nation, they can battle it out against the best.
Entering 2021 as a relatively unknown commodity, Tajikistan shone as one of the breakthrough nations of the year. Culminating in an impressive medal haul from each tournament and ending the year as the 12th highest-ranked team in IMMAF.
In one of the most eagerly anticipated bouts of the quarter-finals, multiple IMMAF medalist Jovidon Mahmudov will face current pound for pound king Ramazan Gitnov in a 170lbs rematch. The last time the two met was at the final of the 2021 IMMAF World Championships, with Gitinov taking the victory by way of a unanimous decision. World Cup gold medalist Mahmudov will look to right the wrongs of his performance in the first meeting and look to hand Gitinov his first loss since 2017.
Another familiar face in the team will be Featherweight Bakhtiyor Husainov. He has represented his nation at all three 2021 events, taking bronze from every tournament. Husainov is relishing the opportunity to represent his nation in what will be a completely new format for the featherweight.
“I am proud to represent the Tajikistan team in the MMA Super Cup in Bahrain. To fight in the Super Cup team is a new experience for me. In the future, I want to be fighting in Brave & become the brave champion.”
For the first time in the federation’s history, the Tajikistan team will include two female mixed martial artists, with Anisa Karimova & Shohona Ghozoeva competing in the Flyweight & Bantamweight divisions respectively. In her first time representing Tajikistan on an IMMAF platform, Ghozoeva will welcome Sabrina De Sousa to the Bantamweight for the first time in her IMMAF tenure.
Bahrain currently sits second in the overall Senior National Team rankings, with Ramazan Gitinov, Sabrina De Sousa & Rasul Magomedov claiming the top three spots in the rankings.
Tajikistan are well aware of the challenges they face in the opening round of the tournament. They will come up against one of the favourites and host nation, Team Bahrain. Vice-President of the Tajikistan MMA Federation, Bakhtiyor Khojaev, said:
“Indeed, to face one of the best federations in the world, Team Bahrain, is a real challenge for us. However, take this challenge, Tajikistan is ready to surprise the spectators & fans with our potential in MMA.”
On the other side of the bracket, Kazakhstan will face off against the Balkan Champ, with the victor facing the winner of Tajikistan and Bahrain in the semi-final of the tournament. BRAVE’s first-ever MMA Super Cup will be broadcast live on 9, 10 and 12 March 2022 on immaf.tv.