South Africa’s Delano Human Relocates For Big Commitment to 2018 Amateur World Championships

Next month 24-year-old heavyweight contender Delano Human rejoins the South African national team for the IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Amateur Championships in Manama, Bahrain.

Dressed to impress: Team South Africa at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships.

As a fresh face on the international amateur platform, Human made his debut under the IMMAF banner at last year’s IMMAF World Championships. Following the opening draw of the heavyweight bracket, he announced himself with a second round TKO victory over Austria’s Besart Berisha.

However, the biggest challenge that any heavyweight could expect came his way in the quarter-finals, facing off against Sweden’s reigning heavyweight world champion, Irman Smajic.

While Smajic was riding a four-fight win streak throughout 2017 (all stoppages), the South African underdog came close to achieving the unthinkable.

Pictured: Human and Smajic trade shots in their quarter-final showdown.

Human went the distance with the Swedish giant, the first man to do so since 2016. His engagement and front foot aggressiveness asked serious questions of reigning champion Smajic, but the discipline and experience of the multiple time gold medal winner saw him do what was needed to edge control of the bout on the judge’s scorecards (full fight available at immaf.tv).

“It is irrelevant how I feel about the decision loss,” Human told IMMAF.org. “The result is how it stands and it is how the majority of respected judges decided. In consideration to my fight with Irman, it was only my fourth as an amateur and I had fought the previous day and he had not. I reckon I am able to pat myself on the back, but only hold myself accountable for leaving it up to the judges.”

Despite facing narrow defeat, Human had supplied one of the most significant challenges in the career of amateur MMA’s most decorated heavyweight. The compelling outcome set the tone for a 2018 World Championships return where this time he would surely be among the podium prospects.

“As far as my place in the division goes,” he commented, “it doesn’t matter what the rankings say. It’s all about the the fight and standing on the podium after the tournament. I want to fight the best just to prove that they are second best.”

Human was confident that he would face Smajic for a second time this year, but with the heavyweight king having recently announced his professional debut, the long occupied throne is vacant and this year’s World Championships are guaranteed to crown a new top heavyweight.

“I expect a few new faces in the division,” Human said, “as well as some familiar ones from last year’s tournament. Nonetheless, it is expected that everyone would have been busy bettering themselves to be in top condition.”

Adding fuel to the anticipation, Human revealed  how his training commitments have evolved significantly for this year’s World Championships. 

“I moved to a different city in the last year and joined BJMMA under the guidance of my new coach Bobby Karagiannidis, he has a win over John Kavanagh and is a 2nd degree black belt in Ju jitsu. I also joined a purist boxing gym, Sugar Ray’s, with Raymond Cerfonteyn helping me with my striking and strength and conditioning.”

 

 

 

IMMAF President Joins Stakeholders in Mumbai to Discuss Future of MMA in India

IMMAF president Kerrith Brown (pictured above, second left) recently visited Mumbai, India for the first time to attend critical meetings following the removal of former IMMAF affiliate, the All India MMA Association (AIMMAA).

AIMMAA’s membership was immediately revoked following confirmation that the body, headed by Mr. Alan Fernandes, had dissolved its status as a registered non-profit organisation, without notifying IMMAF, before registering under the same name as a private body. IMMAF membership criteria state that all members must be democratic and registered as a non-profit organization.

The IMMAF president met with former AIMMAA official Mr. Sharif Bapu and Mr. Suresh Gopi (above, far left), who serves as president of MMA India affiliated to WMMAA. The meeting was also joined by Kumite 1 promoter and former AIMMAA founding member, Mr. Aditya Ps (above, second right).

“Having previously been divided through political differences, these figureheads of MMA in India met for the first time and I’m pleased to say it went very well. This was a pivotal meeting and I’m glad to have attended,” Mr. Brown explained.

Sharif Bapu has since assumed stewardship of a strong contingent essentially rendered nomadic without a national body, but who remain committed to IMMAF’s ideals and are now in talks to unite under MMA India.

“It was agreed that separate entities cannot continue to spread conflicting messages,” Mr. Brown revealed. “There is now a genuine interest to move forward under one effective umbrella headed by Mr. Gopi,  for the benefit of the sport and all respective regional members of the national bodies.”

The IMMAF president’s visit coincided with the launch of Kumite 1. The standout promotion aims to raise the bar for top flight MMA in India and following discussions has become committed to providing a conveyor belt opportunity for developing athletes as part of a long haul initiative over the next 10 years. The event was also attended by heavyweight boxing icon Mike Tyson, in addition to Indian politicians and Bollywood stars.

Pictured: IMMAF president Kerrith Brown joins Mike Tyson ringside at Kumite 1.

 

“Both Mr. Bapu and Mr. Gopi will be in attendance at this year’s Unified World Championships. All parties have recognized the need to sustain grass roots development for athletes and the opportunities that must be provided to bring out the best that India has to offer.

“Across India, the MMA collective are able to recognise IMMAF and everything that it stands for through our commitment to WADA anti-doping standards and position as leaders in seeing that the sport of MMA becomes universally recognised and featured in the Olympic Games.

“Bringing nationwide unity across all regions is a high level target,” Mr. Brown added. “The priority in India is to benefit grass roots MMA through support for athletes and sustained, proper sanctioning. Mixed Martial Arts in India has immense potential and so we must do all we can for the athletes and practitioners who will be the life and soul of the sport’s success.”

Murtaza Talha Ali enters 2018 World Championships as world’s highest ranked athelte

By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer, Jorden Curran

Murtaza Talha Ali will be the world’s highest ranked active contender when he competes at the upcoming IMMAF-WMMAA Unified Amateur World Championships.

Having most recently secured the gold medal at this year’s IMMAF European Open, the 22-year-old Bahrain representative competes on home soil once again as he aims to retain the world title in Manama, the nation’s capital.

Currently, the no.1 & 2 positions in IMMAF’s pound-for-pound rankings are occupied by heavyweight Irman Smajic (1613 points) and women’s strawweight front runner Anna Astvik (1603 points). Bahrain’s light-heavyweight juggernaut occupies the no.3 spot with 1526 points, but will be the overall highest ranked contender at this year’s World Championships with the Swedish duo having announced their intentions to launch professional careers.

A second World Championship gold medal, worth 800 ranking points, would see Ali smash the points total of Smajic.

Ali’s conditioning was questioned early on during the 2018 European Open, as he was forced to dig deep for the first time to edge a split-decision against Sweden’s Robin Larsson, avoiding an upset in the opening round of the 205lb bracket. Nevertheless, he regained form with a unanimous decision win over Irishman Cathal Manning before showcasing his best performance to date, employing his signature takedowns and heavy top game to nullify surging Swedish finalist, Anton Turkalj, who in the semi-finals forced a second round submission of world silver medalist Pavel Pahomenko.

Ali scores a suplex on Turkalj during the 2018 European Open final

Ali remains undefeated in amateur MMA with an 8-0 record, drawing on unrivaled strength and a lunchbox overhand right that keeps all opponents on the back foot. With the World Championships taking place from 11-1k8 November, he will have the opportunity to join an exclusive club of athletes who have won a second amateur world title. The short list currently features Jose Torres (men’s bantamweight: 2014, 2015), Will Starks (welterweight: 2015, 2016) and Irman Smajic (heavyweight: 2016, 2017).

IMMAF World & European Champion Anna Astvik Announces Transition to Pro MMA

By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer, Jorden Curran

Over the last two years Sweden’s Anna Astvik established herself as leader of the women’s strawweight division under IMMAF. This week, the reigning World and European champion was the latest international amateur standout to announce plans for a professional transition.

Astvik first represented the Swedish national team in Bulgaria at the 2017 IMMAF European Open. The 2017 Euros were indicative of earmarking the successor to Bulgaria’s Aleksandra Toncheva, whose dominant reign and grip on the division saw her claim back-to-back European titles in 2015 and 2016, in addition to ruling the 2016 World Championships. Alongside national team mate Fannie Redman, the Swedish duo progressed to face off in the tournament final with Redman taking the unanimous decision victory.

Later that year, Astvik maintained Sweden’s new found hold on the division as she claimed the 2017 IMMAF World title. The competition intensified against Ireland’s Emily Badmaev, savvy Kazakh striker Ayan Tursyn and New Zealand’s Hannah Dawson who lost out to Astvik by unanimous decision after a highly competitive finale for the gold medal.

Astvik tags Dawson with a left hand, 2017 World Championships final

Following her World Championships success in Bahrain, Astvik was dealt an upset in the Swedish national championships, submitting to a second round arm-bar at the hands of fresh up-and-comer Nina Back. The narrative continued as Astvik, the current world gold medalist, was joined by national champion Back in the Swedish team dispatched to Romania for the 2018 European Open.

Poetically, it was the Swedish pair who would advance to face off in the championship final. Back’s IMMAF debut was strong as she submitted Ireland’s Deirdre Fitzpatrick via arm-bar and bested perennial top contender Raluca Dinescu on the scorecards. However, it was Astvik with her well rounded skill set who rose to the occasion and retained her place as the undisputed strawweight queen, earning a unanimous decision triumph to win the European gold medal.

Astvik and Back pose together following the 2018 European Open final

In claiming continental and world titles on the amateur platform, Astvik’s service captured the attention of the Swedish mainstream media, featuring on SVT 2 with television and radio appearances. In addition to her status as the world’s number-one ranked strawweight representing the highest ranked nation, Astvik rose to the number-two position in the individual pound-for-pound rankings, within touching distance of overall points leader and countryman Irman Smajic – Sweden’s award winning IMMAF heavyweight champion whose pro debut was recently unveiled and set for December 1.

At age 27, Astvik brings a close to her amateur tenure and the story could not be written any better with former rival/team mate Nina Back taking the reigns as Sweden’s leading amateur strawweight; the promising 20-year-old is set to compete at the IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships in November. Following in the footsteps of her predecessors and fellow IMMAF standouts, Astvik indicates plans for a high profile professional debut.

Wimp 2 Warrior Adopts IMMAF Gradings: Richie Cranny becomes VP for IMMAF Australia

Wimp 2 Warrior is to adopt the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) grading syllabus across its licensed gyms worldwide. The development was announced today as Wimp 2 Warrior owner and career Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) coach, Richie Cranny, was appointed as the Vice President of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation Australia (IMMAFA), IMMAF’s member and MMA governing body in Australia.

Cranny first established the Wimp 2 Warrior (W2W) training program in his Sydney gym in 2012, as a platform to significantly grow participation in MMA at the grass roots and amateur level.  Since then, Cranny has overseen an expansion of the program across eight countries and into some of the world’s most famous combat sports gyms. These include SBG Ireland in Dublin and American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, homes to Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, respectively.

Cranny said: “There’s an amazing synergy between Wimp 2 Warrior and IMMAF’s vision for amateur MMA. Now Wimp 2 Warrior participants will complete their training under the IMMAF banner and will have the opportunity to continue pursuing their training and advancement in MMA under the new IMMAF gradings system.

“Wimp 2 Warrior has introduced hundreds of thousands of people to the sport of MMA through its live competition finales, under IMMAF Amateur MMA Rules, and its digital reach. Further, W2W has seen over 3,000 women and men actively participate in the sport via its revolutionary training platform which attracts people to MMA whom would likely have never otherwise have considered participating. At their conclusion of W2W, many competitors search for a way to continue their MMA journey and now our association with IMMAF creates the structured pathways for them to do so.

“I am very honoured and excited to play such an important role in the growth of amateur MMA in Australasia and work alongside so many talented people”

Of Cranny’s appointment to IMMAFA, President Joe Minehan said.

“I am proud to announce Richie’s appointment. His role will be to promote of the sport of amateur MMA and assist IMMAFA and our parent body IMMAF in progressing the sport to Olympic recognition. Richie will play an important role in our Coaching Committee and the introduction and roll-out of the IMMAF grading syllabus to be released soon.”

IMMAF CEO Densign White said:

“IMMAF is delighted that Richie Cranny has decided to give the benefit of his long experience to our federation in Australia. These are challenging times for our sport and in particular for the amateur sport of MMA as we strive for recognition and unification locally and on the international level. To achieve our goals, we need our National federations to reach out and partner with like-minded people with administrative and technical skills. Richie Cranny brings these qualities to the table in abundance and I look forward to seeing this appointment bear fruit for MMA in the Oceania region.”