Russia, who boast the world’s top ranked junior team, extended the nation’s lead with a table topping 5 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze at the Junior European Open in Rome, while also conquering at the concurrent senior level.
The Russian MMA Union further proved the depth of the nation’s young talent, with 4 of the team’s European Open gold medalists being newcomers to the national squad, while junior heavyweight standout Shamsutdin Makhmudov (pictured below) added European Open triumph to his list of accolades after first emerging last November to win gold at the 2018 Junior World Championships.
In Rome, the 20-year-old Makhmudov delivered unsettling strikes to his opposition, opening up windows for the clinch and takedown before drowning his rivals on the ground with a heavy, unrelenting top game. In the final, he charged to a first round TKO over former number-one junior Trevor Makengo.
Meanwhile, as the UKMMAF* fell short at the senior World Championships in 2018, the nation’s hopes for gold were supported by the junior team and inaugural world champions Muhammad Mokaev (men’s bantamweight) and Megan Morris (women’s flyweight).
*The dissolution of the UKMMAF was confirmed on June 28, succeeded by the English MMA Association (EMMAA), including the transition of Team UK to Team England with existing ranking points to be attributed to England – read more HERE.
The now former Team UK, supported by English and Scottish athletes, rose to second place in the European Open medal table, earning 3 junior division titles and 2 silvers, 1 bronze, taking them to second place in the international team rankings while Ireland drops one place to third.
It may even have been 4 golds for the UK team, but for the late withdrawal of Scotland’s Shannon Troup on medical grounds, whose impressive TKO win in the women’s strawweight semi-final saw her claim silver while Germany’s Anna Gaul became a two-time European Open gold medalist. Nevertheless, English standouts Milly Horkan (women’s bantamweight) and Izzy Mitchell (women’s lightweight) secured back-to-back gold medals on the championship’s final day.
The gold medal trio was completed by 18-year-old UK prodigy and reining junior world champion, Muhammad Mokaev, who stormed to 15-0 in Rome, battling flawlessly through the rounds to meet world silver medalist Reo Yamaguchi for a second time. A purely sublime performance across all three stanzas saw Mokaev claim the continental title and subsequently become the world’s highest ranked junior athlete, no.1 in the IMMAF-WMMAA pound-for-pound standings with Russia’s Makhmudov prowling closely behind in second place.
Main picture: Russian junior flyweight Akhmed Nutsalkhanov (upper), Muhammad Mokaev (lower)
By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran