Amateur MMA Fantasy Bouts: Super-Heavyweight – Diab vs. Kharkhachaev

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

Year by year, the top amateur mixed martial artists from across the globe represent their country and national federation under the banner of IMMAF-WMMAA championships, showcasing the sport’s wealth of diversity and ever evolving variety of styles. From the inaugural IMMAF World Championships in 2014 to the historic first Unified World Championships of 2018, fresh waves of talent have continuously taken to the podium. 

As each nation’s home grown talent continues to flourish, the newest crop of contenders will seek to take over that podium lineage and compete against the established front runners. But sometimes, we are left with a compelling ‘what if?’ as some of Amateur MMA’s most impressive standouts advance to professional careers, leaving behind an open throne for a new tournament champion.

In what can be a short term generation game as the talent level continues to ascend, some of the best will remain to test themselves against multiple waves of new and challenging rivals, but in this weekly series, considers some of the most intriguing fantasy matches that never took place, between Amateur MMA’s best of the best.  

Super-Heavyweight: Charbel Diab (Lebanon) vs. Pasha Kharkhachaev (Bahrain)

We kick things off at the far end of scale, taking a look at super-heavyweights Charbel Diab – 2016 IMMAF world champion (pictured above, left), and Pasha Kharkhachaev – 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Champion (above, right).

Diab and Kharkhachaev wowed audiences as they charged their way to world titles, both triumphing in their debut World Championships appearance. Neither man entered the second round with all opponents dispatched off via KO/TKO in the opening stanza.

As the largest man in the 2016 division (and the youngest at 22 years of age), Diab smashed expectations in 2016 with mobility, determination and intensity that saw him close the distance to overwhelm opponents with powerful flurries. Like facing off against a charging elephant, Diab’s opposition were afforded little time to respond once the smiling behemoth launched his offence.

Two years later, Kharkhachaev emerged. Reminiscent of his predecessor with equal intensity, the Sambo competitor and Bahrain national team recruit displayed a varied striking arsenal with thunderous punching power as he stormed to the finals of the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships. In the gold medal decider, he had one more surprise in the bag, upsetting the odds with a calculated left hook to stop towering Russian national champion and gold medal favourite Grigoriy Ponomarev with a shocking one-punch walkaway stoppage (pictured below). At age 23, both Kharkhachaev and Ponomarev were the youngest challengers of the 2018 super-heavyweight division.

Photo by Jorden Curran | IMMAF

While it is expected that the reigning world champion will aim to extend his amateur dominance in 2019, Diab has since built up a 3-0 professional record competing internationally and with mainstream notoriety in his home nation.

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