Junior Athlete of The Year Nominee: Reo Yamaguchi (2019 Amateur MMA Awards)

World and European junior silver medalist, Reo Yamaguchi has served as Japan’s star man over the past year, maintaining his presence under the IMMAF banner as one of the most consistent and successful junior athletes.

As a product of the Alive MMA Dojo, a reputable exporter of talent to professional organisations such as the UFC, Pancrase, Shooto and ONE, Yamaguchi stands as a shining example for Japan’s young prospects to begin their path to the elite international amateur platform.

Under the tutelage of Alive Dojo and Team Japan head coach Yoichi Suzuki, Japan’s growing national team showed signs of promise in 2018 with gold medals taken at the Oceania Open and highly encouraging performances at the 2018 World Championships.


Yamaguchi alongside coach Yoichi Suzuki

It was 19-year-old Yamaguchi, as one of Japan’s Oceania gold medalists, who has since emerged as the nation’s standout achiever, next reaching the bantamweight final of the Junior World Championships (for athletes age 18-20,) with a rounded skillset amplified by seasoned instincts and quick execution of strikes and movement all without hesitation.

After going the distance with undefeated UK prodigy Muhammad Mokaev, Yamaguchi earned the silver medal and returned for the 2019 European Open in Rome where he battled to reach his second consecutive IMMAF finals.

Despite coming up short against Mokaev for a second time by way of the scorecards, Yamaguchi’s progression was noticeable; able to explode forward and surprise his main rival, closing the distance to land with quickfire shots in addition to showcasing some encouraging takedown defense, something that is not often accomplished against Mokaev, the a highly accomplished wrestling specialist.

Yamaguchi battles Mokaev at the 2018 World Championships finals

Admirably humble, respectful and determined to challenge as a champion in search of further great and global accomplishment, Yamaguchi is every bit the incarnation of Japan’s martial arts spirit. With two silver medals earned in the 2018-2019 year, Yamaguchi will be one to watch as he returns with Japan to contest the junior bantamweight division once again at next month’s 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA World Championships.

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) host the 2019 Amateur MMA Awards on Thursday 14 November during the 2019 IMMAF | WMMAA Unified World Championships in Manama.

Junior Athlete of The Year nominations include:

  • Muhammad Mokaev (UK)
    2018 World Championships: gold
    2019 European Open: gold

  • Shamsutdin Makhmudov (Russia)
    2018 World Championships: gold
    2019 European Open: gold

  • Reo Yamaguchi (Japan)
    2018 World Championships: silver
    2019 European Open: silver

  • Megan Morris (UK)
    2018 World Championships: gold

  • Mahboob Khan Mohammed (India)
    2018 World Championships: gold

For more information on award categories and nominates, click HERE.

By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer: Jorden Curran

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