Picture: Anja Saxmark takes victory over Inka Auvinen Anja Saxmark, representing team Sweden, entered the 2015 IMMAF European Championships of Amateur MMA as one of the favourites to claim the 125lb Gold medal. At the 2015 IMMAF World Championships in July, during UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas, Saxmark picked up a Silver medal, falling just short to Italy’s Micol Disegni in the finals. With Disegni turning professional, many considered Saxmark the ‘gold’ standard for the tournament in Walsall, England. In her opening bout of the Championships, Saxmark arguably fought one of the toughest tests of her Amateur MMA career. A match-up against the unassuming Meagan O’Loughlin from Ireland who put on a striking clinic against the UK’s Wendy McKenna in her own opening contest. It was a fight that not many would have predicted. O’Loughlin used her grappling in the first round to keep her opponent at bay, smothering Saxmark on the ground. Round two was very similar; a one way street for O’Loughlin, who continued to showcase her wrestling, but also displayed some very good striking against the taller Saxmark. However, after being wobbled at the start of round three, Saxmark’s comeback began. Resilient to defeat, Saxmark gave everything she had, and finally managed to score a takedown of her own. Saxmark took the back of Oloughlin, and sunk in a rear naked choke for the win. In the semi-finals, the comeback girl, Saxmark fought Finland’s Inka Auvinen. It was a very different fight to her opening bout, with an elusive Saxmark; who defended Auvinen’s takedown efforts very well, often circling out with her shots, doing enough to earn a unanimous decision victory. Her last opponent, Sunna Rannveig had an impressive route to the final. A dominating performance over llaria Norcia (Italy) and a lop-sided TKO finish of Michaela Dostalova made for an interesting final between Saxmark and Iceland’s Raanveig. Despite the unprecedented opportunity to take the Gold that had eluded her in the Summer, it was not meant to be in Walsall, with a very technical fight from Raanveig being too much for the Swede. Rannveig fought well on the outside for the start of the fight with good head movement mixed in with effective bursts of aggression. Rannveig punished with takedowns and in the second round, it was too much for Saxmark, with the referee calling an end to the fight after Rannveig unloaded on her trapped Swedish counterpart with countless strikes on the ground. Once again, heartbreak for Saxmark, who came tantalisingly close to her first IMMAF Gold, but is nevertheless a double silver medalist of IMMAF in 2015. This experience will only push her on, and should she decide to remain an Amateur fighter for the 2016 World Championships, third time could indeed be the charm in her quest for IMMAF Gold.