Above, left: Chase Boutwell – 2017 UMMAF National Champion By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran Since the inaugural championships in 2014 the USA has produced seven IMMAF gold medalists. Among these world champions, three athletes in particular have stood out, taking one step further beyond the pinnacle of their respective divisions. Firstly, Jose Torres – the world’s most decorated amateur veteran. With countless regional titles and two UMMAF national titles, Torres was the first athlete to win back-to-back IMMAF world championships, taking gold in the bantamweight division in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 Welterweight world champion Will Starks equaled the IMMAF gold medal record. Starks topped the 170lb bracket to earn gold alongside Torres in 2015 and once again triumphed to retain the crown last year at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas. Securing his own landmark achievement, Brendan Allen won IMMAF gold in the 2015 middleweight bracket and made history as the first athlete to be ranked as the pound-for-pound number-one in the launch of the IMMAF World Amateur Rankings. 18-year-old Chase Boutwell will compete as team USA’s youngest representative and is arguably this year’s most exciting young prospect heading into the 2017 IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain. The so far undefeated (5-0) and enigmatic newcomer kicked off a surge of optimism as he lived up to national expectations in becoming the youngest ever USA MMA Federation (UMMAF) champion, winning the bantamweight tournament to qualify for the national team. Click HERE for more information on UMMAF’s 2017 national champions. IMMAF.org highlighted Boutwell’s inspirational story back in June: The story of the Georgia native embodies the very spirit of MMA as a whole—if you have skill, push through adversity, and are passionate, glory awaits. Having started MMA while in elementary school, Boutwell elected to miss both his senior prom and graduation from high school to compete at the UMMAF nationals, inspired by the close support of his parents. Chase’s Mother has her own fight against Multiple Sclerosis (MS) that has been ongoing since she was 24-years-old. Justin Brown, Southeast Regional Director of the UMMAF said, “Super proud of this inspired young man! This is our youngest ever UMMAF Amateur National Champion. He sacrificed a great deal simply for the opportunity to represent his country and compete at the IMMAF World Championship Tournament and prove that he is one of the best in the world!” Regardless of gold medals, Boutwell already has the aura of something very special as he steps up to the world level and the sport of mixed martial arts is all the better for it. At the World Championships in November he will join the hotly contest 135lb bracket, currently topped by Sweden’s number-one ranked Renato Vidovic. Taking place at Khalifa Sports City Arena from 12 to 19 November, as part of Brave International Combat Week, the 2017 World Championships are anticipated to be the biggest event in the history of amateur MMA under IMMAF with more participants than ever before representing nations from all continents. 2017 marks the first year of the IMMAF Worlds taking place outside of Las Vegas, USA.