Picture: Hussain Maki Mahdi takes on Brit Jake Bond in the semi-finals For Bahrain, the 2015 IMMAF European Open Championships held historic proportions, with Hussain Maki Mahdi winning the country their first IMMAF Amateur MMA medal. After falling short of the medal podium at the 2015 IMMAF World Championships, Mahdi was able to show that the progressing Amateur MMA scene in Bahrain was on-par with Europe’s best in Walsall, England. Matched up with Finland’s Saku Ronkainen in the first round, Mahdi and Ronkainen initially exchanged in blissful grappling. Several position changes mixed in with constant rolling reversals made for a beautiful watch, however Mahdi was able to advance after Finland’s Ronkainen suffered a hand injury at the end of the first round. In the Quarter-Finals Mahdi met a monumental challenge in 2015 World Silver Medallist, Serdar Altas of Sweden. Despite the odds stacked against him, young Mahdi; in front of the on looking Bahranian Prince, H.H. Sheikh Khalid Khalid Bin Hamad, was able to score the biggest upset of the European Open. Yet again, it was another fight with exhilarating grappling exchanges. Immediately, Mahdi pressured Altas with some good striking, however the World Silver medal holder quickly took the back of the Bahraini athlete, in an effort to cinch in the rear naked choke. However, the Swede was unsuccessful, with some smart defence from Mahdi. Mahdi then took the initiative and quickly secured the back of Altas; much to the surprise of those in attendance, and with near definitive ease, submitted Altas through a well-executed rear naked choke. With a strong presence from the entire Bahrain team in Walsall, England, a decisive roar of pride shook the Walsall Sport Centre, with Mahdi claiming the most influential and impressive victory in Bahrain’s Amateur MMA history. Advancing to the final four in the 125lb category, Mahdi would face the United Kingdom’s Jake Bond. Despite overcoming the odds in the round of eight, it would be a valiant bronze medal for Mahdi who was out-wrestled by a buoyant Bond. The bout started with Mahdi and Bond exchanging strikes, Mahdi defended a good attempt by Bond for a double leg takedown. Bond would eventually get his takedown in the first round, with a huge slam to Mahdi. In round two, Bond again utilised his wrestling, but Mahdi showed excellent grappling defence, with his tough guard unbroken by Bond. Regardless of Mahdi’s superb ground defence, the third round came as one too many, with Bond finally able to find success on the mat. Slick wrestling from the Brit saw Bond swiftly take the back of his opponent. From there Bond locked in the rear naked choke to round off a brilliant performance. It was a tough loss to stomach for Mahdi, with Bahraini hopes pinned to his back, however he will find resolve knowing he lost to the eventual Gold medallist, with Bond beating fellow Brit Warren Mason in the final to claim the podium position. As for the future of Bahrain in Amateur MMA, now Mahdi has claimed their first medal, the already driven KHK MMA are destined for further success with the nation proving they can be just as successful as their counterparts.