Galabarov becomes first ever 3-time European Open champion

The triumph of Daniel Galabarov (9-2) at last week’s 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships saw him make history as the first athlete to win their respective weight bracket for a third time.

The 26-year-old Bulgarian first secured the heavyweight crown in Birmingham, England, at the inaugural European Open in 2015. Since then he has never relinquished the title, retaining in Prague 2016 and Sofia 2017 most recently. In 2015 Galabarov submitted future world champion Irman Smajic in the -265lb final and defeated the Swedish standout once again in the 2016 final, this time via KO. In addition to his multiple IMMAF World Championship campaigns and 2016 bronze medal, Galabarov is the longest serving amateur currently within the Bulgarian national squad.

Galabarov achieved the momentous feat on home soil with the event taking place in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. In his semi-final bout Galabarov met wily Norwegian Berat Berisha, who despite being a much shorter heavyweight, had made a reputation for himself as a conqueror of larger opposition and in his quarter-final contest knocked out Austrian Lukasz Sniadecki. In a cautious bout Galabarov bested the Norwegian on the scorecards for the second time in his amateur MMA career and moved on to the finals which served up a dramatic encounter with his countryman, Daniel Yankov.

Yankov completed his IMMAF Championships debut with the Bulgarian national team and made his presence felt in the tournament’s opening round by securing a Unanimous Decision victory over Romania’s Ion Grigore, a 2016 bronze medal winner. This was followed in the semi-finals as Yankov forced a TKO stoppage against Italian Daniele Matiddi.

The 2017  heavyweight final was decided after an opening stanza that saw Yankov work as the aggressor before the second round where Galabarov postured to grab a Kimura lock from the guard position resulting in a submission stoppage.

galabarov and yankov

Galabarov (left) pays tribute to fellow finalist Yankov (right)

Galabarov vs. Yankov was the third contest at this year’s European Open in which athletes from the same nation faced off in a gold medal decider. This was preceded by the all-Swedish Women’s Strawweight final where Fannie Redman topped Anna Astvik for a Unanimous Decision victory, followed by the clash of Bulgarian’s in the Men’s Featherweight division where Delyan Georgiev also clinched a UD over Borislav Angelov.

Prior to this year, only one European Open final had been contest by representatives of the same national team, this being the historic all-UK Men’s Flyweight final in 2015 that pitted Warren Mason against eventual victor Jake Bond.

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

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