Bulgaria rule European Open at 115 & 265lbs

At last weeks’ IMMAF European Open Championships of Amateur MMA, from November 19th to 22nd in Walsall, England, Bulgaria achieved a total of four podium positions, including two Gold medals at opposite ends of the spectrum with Aleksandra Toncheva taking victory in the Women’s 115lb Strawweight category while Heavyweight Daniel Galabarov snatched the 265lb heavyweight crown. The unassuming Toncheva, while friendly and quite smiley in appearance, provided some of the competition’s most aggressive displays inside the cage. Toncheva fought with an energy reminiscent of Clay Guida, and often with ferocity as she favoured looping overhand shots with her right fist. In the first Women’s bout of the inaugural IMMAF European Open, Toncheva was able to impose her dominance early on in the tournament with a submission victory over Ireland’s Deborah O’Sullivan at 1:33 into the second round of their Day 2 contest. This was followed up on Day 3 with victory over World Championships veteran Amy Omara of Team UK. Toncheva pressured Omara from the off, forcing her back with threatening blows before securing a textbook takedown against the fence. This was replicated throughout each 3×3 minute round as Omara was unable to deal with the Bulgarian’s spirited attack. Toncheva looked for another finish on the ground in round 3, but was unable to secure hooks for a submission via rear-naked-choke, and instead went the distance; being declared victor by way of a unanimous judges’ decision. However, Toncheva’s greatest feat came in the tournament final against Romania’s Raluca Dinescu. Dinescu herself had shown proven strength as an effective grinder, taking control of earlier opponents Polly Beauchamp (UK) and Lyudmila Sadirina (Azerbaijan) against the cage to cancel out their offence. It would seem that Toncheva and the Bulgarian team had recognised the strength of their final opponent, and prepared themselves accordingly. What followed was an eyebrow raising display of cardio. From the offset, Toncheva met Dinescu in the center and did not cease throwing, sparking memories of Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama. Toncheva never gave her opponent an inch, she starved Dinescu of opportunities to implement the gameplan shown in earlier rounds and lured her into the fight she wanted. Toncheva’s first round efforts looked incredibly demanding, but the real surprise came as she maintained the same level of intensity, focus and determination into the following stanzas for what was the European Open’s greatest display stamina. toncheva 1 Toncheva picked up a clear-cut unanimous decision victory to take the European Open championship. A powerful moment followed as she stepped upon the podium to receive the Gold medal, draped in the flag of Bulgaria and singing her country’s national anthem. At the opposite end of the scale, Heavyweight Daniel Galabarov showed athleticism, power and ferocity in his pursuit of European Open Gold. As a World Championships veteran, the Bulgarian heavyweight suffered a unanimous decision loss against Frenchman Allan Guichard, but made his way to the UK with an intensity that proved overwhelming for his opponents. Galabarov took on Ireland’s Ryan Spillane in the semi-final bout. After the Bulgarian attacked with menacingly strong shots on the feet, the Irishman completed a sweep when being held against the fence. Spillane grabbed the arm of his opponent but Galabarov broke free and returned the favour with a second round submission victory via Kimura. In the final bout, Galabarov took on Swedish heavyweight Imran Smajic who had finished Iceland’s Petur Oskarsson in the semi-final with a first round Guillotine Choke submission. Smajic was noticeably heavier than the more streamline Galabarov, but remained athletic nonetheless with a series of high kicks. Both men threw clubbing shots, the connections could be heard more than any of the day’s previous bouts. Galabarov found himself backed against the fence but his relentless intent would not let up as he continued to land with ferocity from what would usually be a defensive position. Galabarov 1 As the first round closed out Galabarov lifted Smajic from the ground for a huge takedown before taking control on the canvas. This followed in the second round as Smajic tired and was dragged into deep waters. Galabarov’s attack shifted up a gear, the Bulgarian dominated his opponent from full mount mount before securing Smajic’s right arm and transitioning to complete a submission victory by way of Americana. As the fight ended, Galabarov leaped to his feet and released a victorious roar. Galabarov amricana Before singing out the Bulgarian national anthem on the podium’s top spot, Galabarov was presented with his Gold medal by UFC veteran and President of the Bulgarian Federation of Mixed Martial Arts, Stanislav Nedkov, who was hugely proud to honor the athletes that he had been present to support throughout the week. Bulgaria’s full list of proud medalists included: Aleksandra Toncheva (Women’s Strawweight) and Daniel Galabarov (Heavyweight) – Gold Dorian Dermendzhiev (Welterweight) – Silver Tencho Karaenev (Light-heavyweight) – Bronze For a full list of medallists from the 2015 European Open Championships visit: https://www.immaf.org/championships/2015-immaf-european-open-championships/2015-immaf-european-medallists/

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