Pictured: Aberger (Austria) vs. Laallam (Sweden) – 2017 European Open middleweight semi-final. By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran At the 2017 IMMAF World Championships the 185lb middleweight bracket will play host to one of the deepest and most diverse competitor lineups. In Manama, Bahrain, a new world number-one is guaranteed this November with 2016 world champion Byron Chivers and number-one ranked middleweight Rostem Akman having each transitioned to complete successful professional debuts. Team registration for the 2017 IMMAF World Championships closes on September 28. Ahead of the deadline, we can already be certain that the top 2 seeded positions in the tournament draw will be occupied by no.2 ranked Swede Heytham Rabhi and Italy’s 2017 IMMAF European Open champion Dario Bellandi, ranked no.3. Also among the athletes currently registered ahead of the deadline is 22-year-old Austrian Florian Aberger (12-3) who sits ninth in the rankings. Undefeated in domestic competition, Aberger has been a force on home soil over the past three years with a series of unforgettable stoppage victories justifying his place within the AUTMMAF national team, competing on amateur MMA’s top international platform. At IMMAF championship events his abilities have matured following a first round exit in his World Championships debut in 2016, losing out to Australian Joseph Luciano. Since then, Aberger has claimed Bronze at both the 2016 and 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships. Notably, he has never been stopped, only ever eliminated via the judges’ scorecards. As one of the naturally heavier middleweights, Aberger brings his standout size to the middleweight bracket where ferocious power and determination sees him stand as a memorable hurdle for any opponent. Aberger’s level of success throughout the week-long tournament format likely hinges on his cardio management, but nevertheless, he is a regular in seeing bouts through to the distance and at the 2016 European Open he bested Sweden’s Heytham Rabhi, the current no.2 ranked middleweight. Without notice the Austrian power puncher can assert himself with explosive offence. When looking to push forward having been on the back foot, these are the moments when his intensity shines through with determination and the ability to impose his strength with equal measure at any moment. In two month’s time he could find himself in second outings with the likes of Rabhi or European Open silver medalist Khaled Laallam whose effective use of range took the Swedish newcomer all the way to the finals in Sofia. Will this be Aberger’s year to break into the gold and silver medal territory? Taking place in Manama, Bahrain, at Khalifa Sports City Arena from 12 to 19 November, as part of Brave International Combat Week, the 2017 IMMAF World Championships are anticipated to be the biggest event to date under IMMAF with more participants than ever before representing nations from all continents.