By IMMAF.org lead writer, photographer: Jorden Curran France’s number-one amateur MMA contender, Axel Sola, is set to enter the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Oceania Open Championships, taking place in Auckland, New Zealand, from 13-14 April. Regarded among the world’s top amateur mixed martial artists, Sola stands as the world’s number-one ranked welterweight and holds 5th place in the international pound-for-pound rankings. A significantly decorated amateur contender, Sola earned the silver medal in 2017 at the IMMAF World Championships, in what was his first international tournament appearance. The 21-year-old then progressed to win gold in Bucharest, at the 2018 IMMAF European Open, in arguably the most challenging division in amateur MMA. Pictured above: Sola tops the European Open podium. In 2018 the ultra stacked division played host to standouts including Issa Isakov (Belgium), Jush Hudson (UK/Wales), Yann Liasse (Luxembourg), Robin Roos (Sweden) and world champion Islam Bagmodeov (Russia), with over 100 ranked contenders. The welterweight frontrunner stepped up in size for a middleweight appearance at the 2018 WMMAA European Championships, but was back at 170lbs for the historic 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships last November. The division favorite would earn a second world championships silver medal upon battling his way to the finals for a second consecutive year. The world title remains elusive for the Frenchman after a competitive decision loss to Russia’s Islam Bagomedov. Pictured above: Sola lands a flush right hand in the 2018 World Championships final, wearing the gold Green Hill uniform signifying his status as European Open champion. For France’s number-one, his pledge to reach the pinnacle of amateur MMA remains unhindered. An inspiring and self-funded athlete, Sola’s commitment to representing French MMA with prominence on the international amateur platform has further intensified, and he is set to launch a fresh test of his abilities among middleweight competition. The two-time world silver medalist and reigning European Open champion now targets a second continental title, in a second weight division, in the Oceania region.