Senior Male Athlete of The Year Nominee: Lee Hammond (2019 Amateur MMA Awards)

Lee Hammond completed one of the great returns IMMAF competition at the 2018 World Championships. In a coming of age showcase the young Irishman tapped into his finest form to date as an amateur prospect and did so having bounced back from a life-threatening accident while training overseas.

Representing the Republic of Ireland, the 23-year-old is set to defend his world title in November at the 2019 IMMAF World Championships, but his journey to the gold dates back to 2015. At the inaugural European Open Championships, Hammond made his international debut as one of Ireland’s most talked about up and comers and accomplished a bronze medal in the lightweight division.

The UFC’s Jack Shore emerged to win the European Open in 2015. Norway’s Geir Cemsoylu earned silver with the Irish duo of Hammond and Thomas Martin picking up bronze.

His progress continued with the IMMAA national team. The SBG product under John Kavanagh produced a sensational run of four wins at the 2016 European Open, three by way of arm-bar submission, eventually earning silver after a split-decision loss in the final to Bulgaria’s Ferdun Osmanov.

Hammond vs. Osmanov, 2016.

The 2017 World Championships were expected to be the scene of Hammond’s gold medal breakthrough, but fate took a turn as he was hospitalized while in Portugal, suffering a ruptured bowel.

Upon recovering, Hammond qualified once again to represent his country and hit the ground running, continuing with momentum as he had never left.

Making a huge impact without delay, Hammond went viral on Day 1 of the 2018 World Championships, capturing the attention of the MMA world his trademarked Hammoplata submission of Romania’s Stefan Tonu.

A second submission win over Sweden’s Mario Markus set up the captivating showdown of Hammond taking on Ukraine’s dominant Pavel Senchenko, the 2018 European Open gold medalist and favorite for the world title. After a demanding three rounds going to a split-decision, Hammond secured his biggest win to date and proved his worth among the elite of his division, solidifying himself a gold medal contender.

The final chapter of Hammond’s World Championships campaign was against surprise finalist, Finland’s Marko Sarasjärvi. The duo battled to a split-decision and Hammond was dramatically forced to endure a near completed arm-bar hold from Sarasjärvi, but Hammond’s overall control and high level BJJ with continuous transitions from the bottom saw his journey come to the end with Ireland receiving gold on the lightweight division podium.

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 lead writer/photographer: Jorden Curran

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