Bulgarian duo return to defend European Open titles

Pictured: 2015 European Open champions Daniel Galabarov and Alexandra Toncheva 

2016 IMMAF EUROPEAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS

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The Bulgarian duo of Alexandra Toncheva and Daniel Galabarov will return to defend their European Open titles at the 2016 IMMAF European Open Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. The International Amateur MMA tournament will play out over 5 days from 22 to 26 November at the Arena of Sparta in Prague.

The undefeated Toncheva (6-0) has remained dominant for two years under the IMMAF banner and is currently ranked 4th in IMMAF’s official pound-for-pound rankings and 1st in the Women’s Strawweight rankings. The 25-year-old made her debut at last year’s European Open Championships and defeated opponents from both Ireland and the UK before securing a unanimous decision win over Romanian grinder Raluca Dinescu in the 115lb tournament final. Known for her seemingly never-ending cardio and ability to exhaust opponents with a hard pace, Toncheva followed up on her European Open success by winning Gold at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas, which took part during UFC International Fight Week in July at the UFC Fan Expo.

No. 2 ranked Heavyweight Daniel Galabarov will compete in Prague as part of an 8-man bracket and has developed competitive rivalries with two of his fellow top contenders. Galabarov was dealt an early exit from the 2015 World Championships at the hands of French finalist Allan Guichard. The 26-year-old bounced back at last year’s European Open in the UK and won Gold by taking victory in tournament final via submission against Sweden’s Irman Smajic. Galabarov achieved a Bronze medal at this year’s World Championships, losing via split-decision in the semi-finals, again to Guichard. However, Guichard went on to lose in the finals to Smajic, setting up a compelling rock-paper-scissors scenario between the top three heavyweights.

karaenev-podium

2016 IMMAF Light-Heavyweight World Silver medalist Tencho Karaenev

Also among the Bulgarian lineup is perennial Light-Heavyweight top contender Tencho Karaenev (pictured, right) who will be hunting for the elusive Gold. The 23-year-old was forced to settle Bronze at the 2015 European Open due to injury and is a two-time World Championships Silver medalist.

The Bulgarian MMA Federation has achieved tremendous accomplishments, including government support, and is headed by President and retired UFC veteran Stanislav Nedkov. The national team has registered a total of nine athletes to compete at the 2016 IMMAF European Open Championships. Full team listed below.

Alexandra Toncheva
Strawweight 52.2 kg (115 lbs)
Age 25

Daniel Galabarov
Heavyweight 120.2 kg (265 lbs)
Age 26

Ferdun Osmanov
Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs)
Age 20

Valeri Atanasov
Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs)
Age 27

Tencho Karaenev
Light Heavyweight 93 kg (205 lbs)
Age 23

Rostislav Raichev
Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs)
Age 22

Nikolay Nikolov
Welterweight 77.1 kg (170 lbs)
Age 19

Atanas Krastanov
Super Heavyweight 120.2 kg (265 lbs) +
Age 19

Yuksel Yusein
Light Heavyweight 93.0 kg (205 lbs)
Age 26

By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran