By Caoilte de Barra
The men’s welterweight division has been one of the most exciting in recent years. Two-time World gold medalist Ramazan Gitinov has been the one to beat in the division. The Bahrain representative’s win streak currently stands at twenty six, and few have come close to dethroning him.
The pound for pound number one has not been beaten since 2017, and has excelled over the years, making him the most decorated amateur MMA athlete in IMMAF history. As one of the most well-rounded athletes in the division, Gitinov can go toe-to-toe with his opponents on the ground or on the feet, without experiencing much trouble.
Ahead of the World Championships, he is on the brink of history as he aims to become a three-time World champion, an accolade first achieved by Bagdat Zhubanysh at the 2021 World Championships.
However, as more nations enter the IMMAF ranks, more contenders emerge and they will be looking to upset the masses at the 2022 World Championships.
Belgium’s Patrick Habirora is one of the athletes with the potential to do just that. The knockout artist had his breakout moment at the 2022 European Championships, when he scored four consecutive knockout wins before losing out via submission in the final. His fan friendly style makes him one of the most exciting athletes to watch heading into the competition.
Jovidon Mahmudov has been a consistent contender in the division after his gold medal win at the 2021 World Cup. Hailing from Tajikistan, Mahmudov has impressed in all of his bouts and will be looking to avenge his 2022 losses to Gitinov at the World Championships.
With the Ukraine team thriving, Roman Pylypchuk is one to watch at welterweight. He has yet to win a gold medal in IMMAF competition, but is always entertaining and has the potential to go on a real run towards gold.
2022 newcomer Lester Batres Jr is an unknown quantity for many experienced IMMAF athletes. After dominating the division at the 2022 Pan American Championships, Bartes Jr is ready to test himself amongst the elite in Belgrade.
Batres Jr has been surrounded by MMA all of his life. His father previously competed in the pro ranks and is now the 20-year-old’s head coach. After spending some time finding success in high school wrestling, Batres Jr found his way back to MMA. He now hopes to follow in his footsteps and bring home some gold to the gym.
This year has all the potential to be the most exciting year for the division, with Gitinov looking to extend his incredible run of wins while new contenders look to get their moment in the spotlight.
Watch the 2022 IMMAF World Championships streamed live from Belgrade, Serbia, at immaf.tv from February 11 – 18.