Senior Male Athlete of The Year Nominee: Axel Sola (2019 Amateur MMA Awards)

2019 is anticipated to be the final year of Axel Sola’s amateur tenure. As one of the most decorated and consistent challengers since 2017, the Frenchman is set for a final showing at the 2019 IMMAF Amateur World Championships, in hunt of that which has continued to elude him, the world title.

Sola has been the most active athlete of the 2018-2019 year. As a welterweight in 2018, he earned silver at the World Championships for a second time. In arguably the most competitive division, Sola entered the 2018 Worlds as the reigning European Open gold medalist and further set himself apart with decision victories against fellow medal favorites, Luxembourg’s Yann liasse, Sweden’s Robin Roos and Bahrain’s Russian born Murad Gueinov

The 22-year-old possesses exceptionally rounded abilities and can certainly boast wrestling and well-drilled sprawls as a standout facets of his game. Nevertheless, a back-and forth showcase resulted in a decision loss to Russia’s Islam Bagomedov at the World Championships Finals, yet served as a motivator for Sola to set off and target maximum experience in 2019, committing to every continental open of the new year and moving up in weight to join the middleweight ranks.

2018 World Championships final: Sola lands a right hand on Bagomedov

The journey has produced mixed results thus far, but not without valuable lessons. Sola cruised to gold medals at both the Oceania and Pan-America Championships, and while booking his place in the Africa Open final, he opted to withdraw due to a hand injury with European Open still to come.

A decision loss to Ramazan Gitinov at the Asia Open was a reminder that Sola’s kryptonite lies within most experienced wrestling specialists, yet the experience will no doubt factor in his approach to this year’s World Championships campaign. The Frenchman looked on course to retain his European Open title in 2019, with a first round arm-bar submission of Dmytro Honcharenko (Ukraine) and a one-sided decision over Welshman Jack Tucker. A captivating semi-final was lined up against Russia’s Magomedkhabib Umarov, but injury struck again as Sola’s aggravated hand issues resulted in his withdrawal.

His self-funded commitment towards utilizing the international platform are inspiring and deserving of commendation. Accumulating a 9-2 run (18-4 overall,) Sola’s impressive medal haul of the past year includes World Championships silver (2018), Oceania Open gold, Pan-Am gold, Africa Open silver and European Open bronze.

French MMA Commission (CFMMA) President Bertrand Amoussou presented sola with his 2018 European Open gold medal.

Securing the coveted gold medal at the 2019 World Championships, taking place this November, would no doubt place Sola’s determination to reach the summit among the sport’s greatest triumphs, as the finest example of evolution through the catalyst of competition.

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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