By Caoilte de Barra
The 2022 IMMAF Africa Championships are now officially in the books. Over the three days of action, we were treated to some of the best talent on the continent going head to head. 47 participants from 7 nations filled the 11 divisions. We witnessed 36 bouts in total and it was a competition filled with finishes as only 19% of bouts went the distance.
A few nations and athletes experienced their first-ever IMMAF event, while others returned in hope of achieving glory they may have previously missed out on. The stats can tell various stories from each day of the competition, so let’s take at the numbers.
The opening day always tends to be the quietest, it is usually divisions that are full or close to it that compete, and this one was no different. 10 bouts took place, and they set the tone for the days that followed. Of those, only 2 fights made it to the judges’ scorecards.
Namibia’s Veja Hinda made his mark early on by submitting DR Congo’s Tresor Musampa with the sole triangle choke of the competition. His submission was quick, however, South Africa’s Cameron Coulson pipped him to the post by securing a rapid arm-triangle choke victory over Mauritius’ Jason Maurice in the curtain closer at 1:44 of the bout.
The TKO finishes didn’t come as quick as the submissions. Both TKO finishes went deep into the second round. And it was Namibia’s Geraldo Bok who was the quickest of the two, overcoming adversity in round one only to find his feet in the second round when he got the finish with 52 seconds left in the round.
Day 2 was the busiest day of action as the women’s divisions got underway and kicked us off in exciting fashion.
It was submission central from the off. Rear-naked chokes were the most popular as a hattrick of them opened up proceedings. South Africa’s Mischka Laubscher got it done the quickest by finishing the bout in 2 minutes flat.
Namibia were standouts on day one, and they stole the show again through Veja Hinda. Halfway through the day, he scored a sensational walk-off head kick KO of Geraldo Moise, which was the fastest finish of the day at 52 seconds of the opening round. South Africa’s Nioclaas Vermaak came close to beating that time, but his spinning backfist finish was 7 seconds slower.
Towards the end of the day, we witnessed a rare method of victory when DR Congo’s Elyse Balepe knocked out his opponent with a slam in the final second of the round.
Following two exciting days, the finals lived up to expectations and followed the trend of finishes. Of the 11 bouts, only 2 went the distance.
South Africa’s Kiara Fegen got the first armbar submission of the tournament in a gold medal performance that only lasted 44 seconds. It was the fastest finish overall and her sole bout of the competition.
Namibia’s Veja Hinda added an armbar submission to his record soon after to make it a clean streak of finishes for him as he secured gold. Of the athletes who competed each day, 3 claimed gold, and Hinda clocked the least amount in competition time, spending only 7 minutes and 16 seconds in the EFC PI Hexagon.
Maurio Silva picked up Angola’s first-ever IMMAF gold medal, upsetting South Africa’s Nathanial Komana by landing a clean left hook that sent him crashing to the canvas in the first round.
South Africa’s Andile Madlala brought the competition to a close by winning South Africa’s 17th medal to cement their spot at the top of the medal table. He was tentative at the start of his final match with Angola’s Juliao Sandambi, but once he got the upper hand in the clinch, a barrage of knees forced Sandambi out of the bout between rounds.
Overall it was an action-packed few days where some of the best athletes on the continent got to show the world their talent. All of the competition can be watched back on IMMAF.tv. A summary of the overall competition stats can be found here.