By Tudor Leonte
Samuel Rossi was entrusted with the difficult task of kicking off the 2022 IMMAF European Championships on the right foot for the host nation, Italy.
Not only was Rossi the first Italian fighter to compete during the tournament, but the Black MMAmba Team representative competed in the European Championships opener in Cage 2 on Day 1.
Rossi confessed that he felt a bit of pressure on his shoulders ahead of the clash, but he shrugged it off once it was inside the cage. Ultimately, Team Italy landed its first victory and a place in the junior 135-pound quarterfinals thanks to Rossi’s dedication.
“I had a bit of anxiety before stepping into the cage and many emotions. I was ready to fight and show my skills. I started slowly, but then something clicked, and everything went well. I made a lot of sacrifices to prepare for the IMMAF European Championships. It was a dream of mine to compete at the highest of levels. Everything was on point. I spent a lot of time improving my conditioning and technique.”
It took a few minutes for Rossi to overcome his IMMAF-debut jitters as the Italian contestant suffered his opponent’s initiative in the opening frame. Rossi only showcased his polished striking, and grappling technique as the clash reached the second frame, where the Italian submitted Grigoriy Stoychev via rear-naked choke. To better prepare for the challenge, Rossi even quit his job as a security guard.
“I started working after high school, but I just quit my job. I couldn’t stand it. It was too stressful. I was a security guard in a place, but I was just staring at a screen for eight hours straight every day. It wasn’t for me because I didn’t manage to train twice every day.”
Rossi hoped to lead by example to his teammates, but the Team Italy standout didn’t manage to get past the quarterfinals. On Day 2, the Italian fighter lost to 2021 Junior World Championships runner-up Ivan Pasych after the Ukrainian pulled out a slick armbar submission in the opening frame. Even though he lost, Rossi is happy he got the chance to test himself against some of the best athletes in the world. His dreams of glory and an IMMAF medal are only postponed.
Watch the 2022 IMMAF European Championships live and exclusively from Bella Italia Efa Village in Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy) from 27 September and 1 October 2022 at immaf.tv, with the tournament draw taking place on 26 September.