2017 World Championships: Joanne Doyle sets her sights on 135lb division

Above: Joanne Doyle picked up her sixth amateur victory at BCMMA 19: Cage Warriors Academy – photo by Jorden Curran

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

Former IMMAF European Open champion Joanne Doyle will back on the international amateur platform for the 2017 IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain .

This time, she prepares for the 135lb Bantamweight division – her preferred competition weight, but having previously earned her 2016 European Open gold medal in Prague battling in the 145lb Featherweight bracket.

Having struggled to secure opponents for single bouts on home soil, Doyle secured a place on the UK national team looking towards the 2016 IMMAF European Open for the opportunity to gain experience facing multiple high level amateurs across the week-long tournament format.

“I’ve always been a bantamweight really,” she told IMMAF.org. “I just struggled to get fights in the UK at that weight. At the Europeans I weighed in all week at 140lbs fully hydrated and giving up weight to my opponents, so I’m not worried about it to be honest.”

Due to the back-to-back days of competition and same day weigh-ins on the morning of each bout, significant weight cuts and dehydration methods are less prolific at IMMAF championships. More athletes therefore compete closer to their natural weight.

IMMAF advises athletes against unhealthy and potentially dangerous weight cutting practices and regularly provides educational seminars for competitors, highlighting the risks and alternative healthy approaches. Doyle sets her example in support of this ideology.

“It will be a dieting and then maintaining in Bahrain. When my training picks up the weight comes off easily. I’m not a fan of weight cuts on the week of the fight so plan to fly out as close to the limit as possible.”

IMMAF weight cutting and nutrition seminars are hosted by PhD researcher Ben Crighton, developed from 7 years of university research. In addition, he presents questionnaires and collects weigh-in data and urine samples from IMMAF championship athletes to study and present statistical findings.

“I think in Prague I was one of the most hydrated athletes from speaking with Ben and his team. For my last fight I dieted for 8 weeks and I was 62kg (approx 136lbs) by fight week – easy work! It’s taken a while to get used to it and find out what works for my body.”

Doyle recently experienced her first amateur defeat, but it’s no skin off her back: “I never get in there to lose but if it happens, it happens. My only defeat was in a very close five round war, so I can live with that.

“I thought I’d done enough (to earn the decision), even more so watching it back, but I know better to leave it to the judges. It’s a shame but I’m not worried about a loss at amateur level.”

She is an athlete who seems in tune with the principle objectives of learning her craft as an amateur and not getting hung up on undefeated records or individual triumphs. As an amateur, each contest can throw out a new experience or learning curve that has not yet been encountered. This is amateur MMA’s gift to developing contenders.

A gold medal triumph in Bahrain would see Doyle become just the third athlete to win an IMMAF title in a second weight bracket. The achievement was first met by Northern Ireland’s Leah McCourt in 2016 and matched by Sweden’s Irman Smajic earlier this year.

Taking place at Khalifa Sports City Arena from 12 to 19 November, as part of Brave International Combat Week, the 2017 World Championships are anticipated to be the biggest event in the history of amateur MMA under IMMAF with more participants than ever before representing nations from all continents. 2017 marks the first year of the IMMAF Worlds taking place outside of Las Vegas, USA.

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