Pictured above – 2016 World Championships medalists: David Evans (USA), Abdul Hussein (Finland), Hughie Orourke (Ireland) By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran In late 2016 David Evans was the odds on favorite to win the Men’s Featherweight tournament at the IMMAF European Open Championships in Prague, but his travels were ill-fated. In November he returns for the 2017 IMMAF World Championships where he competes for the first time since. The 23-year-old entered 2016’s European Open having showcased his best form to date at the international level, earning the silver medal at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships earlier that year in Las Vegas. Evans defeated Canada’s Sambath Khun via decision before finishing his quarter and semi-final opponents, both in the opening round: Spaniard Sergio Rodriguez by submission and experienced Italian champion/former European Open medalist Marco zannetti was dealt a TKO. The Team USA standout then faced off against Finland’s Abdul Hussein, who was looking to add to his 2015 European Open title. The duo went the distance in what the most closely contested bout of the World Championships finals, but with Hussein being awarded the split-decision victory. Evans was back later that year for the European Open, the final event of the 2016 calendar. The world silver medalist was drawn against Italian Michele Martignoni for the opening round of the Men’s 145lb bracket. As he sought to close out a first victory on his European Open debut, Evans was handed an early exit as a suddenly dislocated shoulder in the final round resulted in a TKO loss. Martignoni went on to earn the silver medal, losing out in the tournament final via submission to Sweden’s Daniel Schalander. “I have actually not competed since I last stepped foot in the cage in Prague,” Evans told IMMAF.org. “These last 10 months for me have strictly been designated to rehabilitation for my injuries and preparing myself mentally and physically to compete at my best again.” In his absence, the once highly placed competitor has since dropped out of the IMMAF world rankings. New faces have taken over at the top of the pile: Russia’s no.1 ranked Abdulmanap Magomedov, Sweden’s Schalander in the no.2 slot and Bulgarian Delyan Georgiev at no.3. The top 15 remains deep with talent and exciting up-and-comers with several having made their way to IMMAF championship podiums over the past year. Martignoni is currently the world number 6. For Evans, the 2017 World Championships provides the platform to secure instant validation as he aims to once again announce himself among the prime contenders of the world stage. “This trip to Bahrain for me is critical, after not being able to close out a dominant performance due to injury, it’s important to me that I stake my claim on the biggest stage there is for amateurs in our sport and show the world that I can not only compete with the best IMMAF has to offer, but I can separate myself from the pack of talented fighters out there. “I feel confident in my preparation with my team of supporters that have helped me get back to this point and plan to do my part in restoring the dominance that Team USA has been known for.” Taking place at Khalifa Sports City Arena from 12 to 19 November, as part of Brave International Combat Week, the 2017 World Championships are anticipated to be the biggest event in the history of amateur MMA under IMMAF with more participants than ever before representing nations from all continents. 2017 marks the first year of the IMMAF Worlds taking place outside of Las Vegas, USA.