Defending champion Abdulmanap Magomedov returns for 2018 IMMAF Africa Open

Abdulmanap Magomedov (pictured above with KHK MMA founder, Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa) was among the top rising amateurs of 2017, securing gold medals at both the Africa and Asian Open ahead of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, the final event of the year, where he claimed a bronze medal.

The 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships take place at the Brakpan Sports Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24 to 26 May.

The 25-year-old is a product of Bahrain’s KHK MMA program and first competed for Russia at the 2017 Asian Open in Singapore, winning his first continental title in the Men’s featherweight division. A quarter-final victory saw him best national Czech prodigy Jakub Tichota with a second round TKO. In the final, Magomedov battled to a unanimous decision triumph over Kazakhstan’s Bekzat Zhassiya, who in the semis earned a decision win over 2016 European gold medalist, Sweden’s Daniel Schalander.

Magomedov was granted Bahrain citizenship in time for the Africa Open later that year and represented the island Kingdom for the first time in Johannesburg. He advanced to the featherweight tournament final alongside fellow Bahrain representative, Gamzat Magomedov, however the latter was unable to compete to due illness and settled for silver while his namesake was awarded the gold. Gamzat would go on win the 2017 IMMAF World Championships title as a bantamweight.

Magomedov earned a bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships.¬†After an opening victory over Japan’s Kohei Maeda, he stormed into the semi-finals with a knockout stoppage of Kazakhstan’s Merey Zhubanov in just 12 seconds (video below). However, the momentum was eventually halted by Finland’s Joel Arolainen, who clinched a unanimous decision for a place in the final.

The defending Africa and Asian Open champion begins his 2018 campaign next month, back in Johannesburg. Currently ranked as the world’s number-two featherweight, just 33 points behind Bulgaria’s world champion Delyan Georgiev, Magomedov aims to assert himself as the number-one seed en route back to the end-of-year World Championships in Bahrain.

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