Senior Male Athlete of The Year Nominee: Delyan Georgiev (2019 Amateur MMA Awards)

Bulgaria’s most successful amateur MMA standout brought his tenure to a close in 2019, now turning his attention to a professional career.

From 2017 to 2019 Delyan Georgiev would grow to become the most decorated product of the Bulgarian national team, concluding his service as a two-time IMMAF world champion, winning the gold medal in both 2017 and 2018. Georgiev also earned bronze at the 2019 European Open having previously won the continental title on home soil in 2017.

Competing in the men’s senior featherweight division, Georgiev’s record on the international IMMAF platform is capped at an incredible 16-1 with an overall amateur record of 28-1. It was not until the 2019 European Open in Rome, entering as the world champion, that Ukraine’s Artem Afanasenko would bring an end to Georgiev’s 28-0 win streak by way of a dramatic split-decision battle in the semi-finals.

The Bulgarian standout frequently showed little interest in pressing the action. With no emotion beyond that of a blank stare through his opponent’s chest, Georgiev would wait, and wait, unafraid of a stalemate until his opponent could wait no longer. Once his rival made their move, Georgiev would snap into action and counter by ducking under and delivering counter strikes or sealing a takedown and taking over with his trademark wrestling.

By the latter stages of a bout, Georgiev would have calculated a full download of his opposite enabling the Bulgarian to appear stronger and even more effective in dictating the bout as the final rounds played out.

Georgiev and Germany’s Eduard Kexel weny toe-to-toe in one of the most competitive finals in IMMAF World Championships history.

When 21-year-old German up and comer Eduard Kexel stormed to the 2018 World Championships final, Georgiev encountered one of his greatest battles as the featherweight duo engaged in a lively collision and sensational battle of wills. The high energy contest forced the best of Georgiev as Kexel pressed relentlessly. Once again, it was in the final stanza when Georgiev’s tried an tested gas tank and capacity to learn and anticipate saw him acquire full control over Kexel, capturing the judge’s attention to edge ahead for a split-decision.

In the incredibly deep 145lb division, the featherweight semi-final stages can be expected produce some of the event’s most closely contested outcomes. Split-decisions were a frequent result of Georgiev’s long-game approach, yet his tactical faith in the cage produced consistent triumphs for three years. His counter attacking style demanded the utmost patience and discipline, never straying from what was perhaps a more psychological offence than a physical one.

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.

Senior Male Athlete of The Year nominations include:

• Sola Axel (France)
2018 World Championships: Silver
2019 Africa Open: silver
2019 Pan American Open: gold
2019 Oceania Open: gold
2019 European Open: bronze

• Pasha Kharkhachaev (Bahrain)
2018 World Championships: gold
2019 Asian Open: gold
2019 European Open: gold

• Bagdat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan)
2018 World Championships: gold
2019 Asian Open: gold

• Lee Hammond (Ireland)
2018 World Championships: gold

• Delyan Georgiev (Bulgaria)
2018 World Championships: gold
2019 European Open: bronze

By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer: Jorden Curran

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