Senior Male Athlete of The Year Nominee: Pasha Kharkhachaev (2019 Amateur MMA Awards)

Pasha Kharkhachaev stunned audiences upon his debut at the 2018 IMMAF World Championships and continued to bring fear upon his division throughout the year, bringing a touch of outrageous spectacle to the international amateur platform.

After storming through the quarter and semi-final stages, the enigmatic super-heavyweight blasted his way to the 2018 World Championships gold medal with perhaps the most devastating strike ever seen on the amateur platform, knocking out Russian national champion Grigoriy Ponomarev with a single punch in the opening round of their world championship final (main picture.)

Kharkhachaev would go on to cement himself as one of the most must-see performers in all of MMA. Showcasing unprecedented one-punch stopping power, he picked up both the European and Asian Open titles in 2019.

Having progressed from his sambo background, where opponents would meet a similar end, Kharkhachaev brings his conquering appetite to the sport of mixed martial arts. To date, the 24-year-old remains undefeated (6-0) having flattened all comers in the opening round, consistently punching his way to one title after another. His walk away knockout triumphs are fast becoming legend and his notoriety has captivated Bahrain as he represents the country’s national team.

Kharkhachaev has all the makings of a lovable draw, reminiscent of unassuming big hitters such as Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson. There is, however, even greater substance to his ability, far beyond that of a novel appearance and ridiculous KO power.

Kharkhachaev’s laid back approach sees him slowly, menacingly, walk down his opponents with a blank expression of contempt, much in the style of cinematic boogeymen such as Friday the 13th’s Jason or Halloween’s Michael Myers. The moment of his strike then comes with astonishing quickness, leaving opponents devastated in the blink of an eye. In the 2019 European Open final, a hesitant Ruslan Moiseienko appeared lost as the daunting world champion slowly approached.

Considered by some within the Bahrain camp as the team’s greatest talent, the true extent of his capability may in fact remain hidden. While his success is underpinned by punching power, the precision and speed of his execution must be praised in equal measure. Kharkhachaev displays reserved agility with spinning back kicks and head kicks, delivered as if to be a teaser, to keep us guessing just what he will do next. Rumor has it that the near 350lb standout is able to pull off both a backflip and full splits.

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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