European Open champion Kovacs recalls her stunning TKO triumph

Hungarian Flyweight Alexandra Kovacs stunned the world of Amateur MMA by triumphing over pound-for-pound number 1 Gabriella Ringblom, to win Gold at the 2016 IMMAF European Open Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. Kovacs turned heads early on when the experience in her striking distinctive side kicks, developed from her Kempo roots, was displayed during the preliminary rounds of the Women’s 125lb bracket. Making her debut under the IMMAF banner, as an unseeded competitor, Kovacs plowed through French competitor and fellow newcomer, Danni Neilan, securing a submission stoppage via rear-naked-choke in the first round. “I’m member of the Hungarian Zen Bu Kan Kempo Sport Association,” Kovacs told IMMAF.org. “Kempo rules are almost the same, like MMA. The only differences are the gloves size and the competition area boundaries. So it gave me a very good base to try myself.” Nevertheless, Kovacs remained the presumed underdog heading into the November 26 semi-finals where she took on Finland’s Anette Osterberg; the number 2 seed and Silver medalist of the 2016 IMMAF World Championships. Osterberg herself advanced to the semis with a career highlight striking display against Iceland’s Dagmar Sigurleifsdottir. Osterberg’s kickboxing prowess was so efficient that a standing stoppage was required to save her durable opponent from further punishment. Kovacs and Osterberg went distance, but it was the Hungarian who decisively out performed and out muscled her fellow striking enthusiast, mixing in dominant spells on the ground where she secured full mount and delivered strikes to bolster a Unanimous Decision win on the judge’s scorecards. The European Open finals took place on November 27 with Kovacs set to face tournament favourite Gabriella Ringblom; the reigning IMMAF World champion and no.1 ranked fighter in IMMAF’s official amateur listings. Neither fighter developed a significant lead while standing in the early stages. Ringblom’s discipline and signature boxing skill made it hard to catch the Swede who remained busy while on her feet, frequently stepping out of the pocket and changing angles. Ringblom’s rounded abilities flourished at the 2016 World Championships and she sought to implement her well developed wrestling throughout the first two rounds against Kovas. The World champion was likely up on the scorecards with effective control of her opponent against the fence. But Kovacs did her homework ahead of the European Open finals, and made sure she knew what to be prepared for for against Ringblom. “We knew that she leads the ranking list, and is a double champion. Besides that we watched her matches and analysed her movement with my trainer, Ferenc Palotás, and we tried to practice efficient techniques against her. It appears that was successful.” Opportunity came for Kovacs in the final round, and she pounced. As Ringblom caught a teep keep kick, her sideways movement was stopped, the opening was there for Kovacs to unload a lengthy flurry as the World champion retreated. The Hungarian continued to control the rage with teep kicks as Ringblom regained composure and battled to assert her jab. However, Ringblom was again stunned by a powerful and timed right hand as she stepped in to strike and was forced to retreat back against the fence by an artillery of straight precision shots that could only be halted by a TKO stoppage. kovacs-coachAs the referee called a stop to the bout Kovacs passionately leaped into the air and her joy took over. She shared the vivid emotion that was felt in the moment of becoming IMMAF European Open champion. “It was an indescribable feeling. I felt powerful happiness and energy. I just jumped back and forth in my happiness, which I do not even remember. I realized what I did when I watched the video later. When my trainer came into the cage and I jumped on him. I was hanging on him, like a little girl on her Dad, and I just repeated: “We did it, we did it, we did it…” I am very grateful to him. I will never forget!” Attention now turns back to securing financial support as Kovacs sets her sights on retaining the title in 2017 when the IMMAF European Open Championships takes place in Sofia, Bulgaria. Click HERE for more information on the 2016 IMMAF European Open, including results and list of medal winners. By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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