Bulgarian National Championships Preview

Pictured above: IMMAF 2016 Super-Heavyweight European Open Champion Atanas Krastanov

The Bulgarian MMA Federation (BULMMAF) will host National Amateur Team Trials on 4 February, serving as a qualification pathway to the national team for the 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships, of which Bulgaria is set to host in Sofia, the nation’s capital city, from 28 March to 2 April. National team qualification will take place as part of the Bulgarian National Amateur Championships.

Bulgaria has risen to become the world’s second highest ranked national team in the official IMMAF rankings. Over the past two years Bulgaria has been a consistent presence on the IMMAF podium with gold medal winners Alexandra Toncheva and Daniel Galabarov first kicking off the momentum back in late 2015, accompanied by the likes of multiple time podium finisher Tencho Karaenev.

The momentum continued and Bulgaria’s success snowballed dramatically. The national amateur team conquered IMMAF’s 2016 European Open in Prague with 5 champions crowned. Women’s strawweight world champion Toncheva won European Open gold for a second time, in addition to heavyweight Galabarov. Fresh champions in other brackets included Ferdun Osmanov (Men’s Lightweight), Nikolay Nikolov (Welterweight) and Atanas Krastanov (Super-Heavyweight).

The emergence of 3 champions under the age of 21 suggests that Bulgaria could be fast developing the most prolific youth development program in the world.

Of the 9 athletes who represented Bulgaria at last year’s European Open, 8 secured a place for themselves on the medal podium and in doing so became exempt from this year’s national qualification. The ruling was made by BULMMAF President, Stanislav Nedkov, who decided that each European Open medalist will retain their place in the national amateur team.

For the 2017 European Open each National Federation is permitted to enter a maximum of 2 participants per weight category, to an overall limit of 32 participants per category. With a possible 8 athletes already set to represent the nation in March, this weekend’s national championships will be an opportunity for fresh faces to shine and showcase their potential to emulate the vast success of their predecessors. Victors will go on to join the current national team, occupying the remaining slots in each weight bracket.

2016 European Open medalists who are exempt from qualification include:

Alexsandra Toncheva – Women’s Strawweight Champion
Rostislav Raichev – Men’s Bantamweight Bronze Medalist
Ferdun Osmanov – Men’s Lightweight Champion
Nikolay Nikolov – Welterweight Champion
Valeri Atanasov – Middleweight Silver Medalist
Tencho Karaenev – Light-Heavyweight Bronze Medalist
Daniel Galabarov – Heavyweight Champion
Atanas Krastanov – Super-Heavyweight Champion

By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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