By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saw the crowning of its first IMMAF gold medalist at the 2017 Africa Open Championships as welterweight competitor Eliezer Kubanza topped the 170lb bracket. In February IMMAF officially welcomed the Democratic Republic of Congo MMA Federation (DRCMMAF) as its national representative for the governance of MMA within the DRC. 20-year-old Kubanza represented the nation in what was the DRC’s debut appearance on IMMAF’s international competition platform. With the 2017 African Open taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kubanza made his way to the semi-finals where he came up against South Africa’s own Sheldon James Victor. It took just two minutes and fifteen seconds for Kubanza to establish himself with a standout performance resulting in a first round triangle-choke submission. The powerful welterweight progressed to the 170lb finals where he faced adept Russian finalist Ramazan Gitinov, also age 20. While representing Russia, Gitinov made his way to South Africa as a product of Bahrain’s international KHK MMA stable, part of an initiative to evolve MMA in the Middle East. Against Kubanza’s exciting striking prowess, an intense collision was expected with Gitinov having snatched his own semi-final victory at just 1:15 of the opening round: an anaconda-choke submission over South Africa’s Riyaad Pandy. The hotly contested welterweight final lived up to expectation: Gitinov looking towards his wrestling efficiency in a classic scenario against the striking enthusiast. However, it was Kubanza’s frightening power that shone through later stages in the bout. The Congo trailblazer stunned Gitinov sending his counterpart to the canvas for the TKO stoppage to be secured at 63 seconds into the final stanza. Next stop, the 2017 IMMAF World Championships.