2015 Medallists Review Part 2

Picture: Iceland’s European Open flyweight champion Sunna Rannveig trades blows with World & European Open silver medallist Anja Saxmark of Sweden. 

The rate of athlete evolution in many competing nations at IMMAF Championships this year was beyond expectations, and this became clear at the inaugural European Open as a number of anticipated results were shaken up. At the Las Vegas World Championships in July Bulgaria claimed just one medal with second place light-heavyweight Tencho Karaenev. Karaenev then went on to claim Bronze at the November European Open in Walsall, England, but was also accompanied by three additional teammates who achieved podium positions. This included second place Dorian Dermendzhiev (170lbs), plus Aleksandra Toncheva (Women’s 115lbs) and Daniel Galabarov (265lbs) who produced stunning performances to win gold in their respective divisions and cement Bulgaria as an emerging force.

Following great achievements at the World Championships, a number of teams were expected to battle it out to become the top ranked nations after the European Open. However, the loss of proven champions and the introduction of new participants to teams cannot always guarantee continued success. Canada found themselves ranked as the number 3 nation following a strong performance in Las Vegas with a pair of gold medal champions and a total of four podium finishes. However, the dominant figures of pound-for-pound contenders Jamie Herrington (Women’s 145lbs) and Saeid Mirzaei (205lbs) were absent from the European Open, and the reshuffled Canadian lineup was unable to replicate its Summer success in Walsall. Nevertheless, 135lbs contender Eloise Picard made her way to a top three finish and claimed Bronze, and the vibrancy of Canada continues to make them one of the most recognizable stables competing at IMMAF events.

Italy also faced mixed results, but remained one of 2015’s most successful teams with a total of nine medals. Team Italy brought the biggest surprise of the 2015 World Championships earning six medals, and two first place champions in Micol DiSegni (Women’s 125lbs) and Lucrezia Ria (Women’s 135lbs). However the two female standouts went onto pursue their professional careers, and Italy was unable to claim gold at the European Open. Despite this, the team continued to show momentum with Paolo Anastasi (205lbs) adding to his World Championship bronze with a third place finish at the European Open, and Marco Zannetti (135lbs) improving from a third place finish in July to earning Silver in November.

The rise of Ireland in 2015 was not limited to the professional stage, as the nations’s grass roots talent was clearly highlighted. Ireland claimed two medals at the World Championships with each contender having made an impactful professional debut since. Sinead Kavanagh (Women’s 145lbs) earned silver while Frans Mlambo emerged as one of the great potential talents when winning gold in the Men’s feathwerweight category. Ireland secured four third place finishes at the European Open, with standout performances from the lightweight duo of Lee Hammond and Thomas Martin who marked themselves as future prospects. Ireland also took gold at 205lbs in Walsall with Ben Forsyth’s McGregor-esque striking leading him to the finals.

Northern Ireland had one of the most successful years of any IMMAF member with tremendous breakthroughs for the Ulster Amateur MMA Association, and the same can be said of the country’s competitive achievements. The Northern Irish team claimed two bronze medals at the World Championships, and progressed to claim both silver and gold at the European Open. Leah McCourt ruled the Women’s 155lbs category before making a televised post-championships appearance on BBC News.

At the World Championships both Poland and the Czech Republic found their footing at the heavy end of the scales with Czech heavyweight Zdenek Ledvina taking Gold at 265lbs and Polish super-heavyweight Kevin Szaflarski winning the 265+lb division.

While not all athletes triumped with top place finishes, many earned standout achievements showing positive signs for future success. Several silver medal winners showed themselves to be hot contenders for future gold with the likes of Swedish duo Gabriella Ringblom and Anja Saxmark, the UK’s Warren Mason and James Duckett, Romania’s Raluca Dinescu and Hungary’s Balaze Kiss, plus Norwegian Geir Kare Cemsoylu all being among the most impressive athletes who didn’t quite clinch the gold in 2015.

In addition came the wealth of highly comptetive third place finishers such as Thomas Martin and Lee Hammond of Ireland, Jorden Indestviken and Camilla Mannes of Norway, Germany’s Julia Dorny and Azerbaijan’s Lyudmila Sadirina all contributing as very notable figures in some of the most competitive weight divisions.

In addition, other nations wrote their own historical moments, such as Bahrain: Hussain Haki Mahdi  secured a first IMMAF medal at 125lbs by rounding up two victories as an underdog and submitting World Championship silver medallist Serdar Altas en route to claiming bronze at the European Open.

Of all the nations who competed under the IMMAF banner in 2015, representatives from 24 countries found success in making their way to a podium finish, and this is greatly encouraging for the grass roots development of Amateur MMA across the globe. IMMAF is hugely greatful to all nations and athletes who competed in 2015 and looks forward to seeing them return throughout the year the come.

Written by IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

Full list of 2015 IMMAF medal winners below:

Finland – total of 9 medals
European Open:
Gold – Varpu Rinne (135lbs), Sanna Merta (145lbs), Abdul Hussein (135lbs)
Silver – Mia Isola (155lbs)
Bronze – Sini Koivunen (155lbs), Inka Auvinen (125lbs)
World Championships:
Gold – Minna Grusander (115lbs)
Silver – Tuukka Repo (155lbs)
Bronze – Juho Laitinen (185lbs)

UK – total of 10 medals
European Open:
Gold – Jake Bond (125lbs), Jack Shore (155lbs)
Silver – Warren Mason (125lbs)
Bronze – Amy Omara (115lbs), Connor Hitchens (145lbs), Hardeep Rai (170lbs), James Duckett (185lbs)
World Championships:
Gold – Josh Ellis (155lbs)
Silver – James Duckett (185lbs)
Bronze: Jake Constantinou (170lbs)

USA – total of 7 medals
World Championships:
Gold – Jose Torres (135lbs), William Starks (170lbs), Brendan Allen (185lbs)
Silver – Travis Edwards (265lbs)
Bronze – Codie Wareham (115lbs), Kimberley Defiori (135lbs), Lindsey Lawrence (145lbs)

Sweden – total of 12 medals
European Open:
Gold – Joel Moya Schondorff, Rostem Akman (185lbs)
Silver – Anja Saxmark (125lbs), Cornelia Holm (145lbs), Gabriella Ringblom (135lbs), Iman Smajic (265lbs)
Bronze – Renato Vidovic (135lbs), Ante Agneby (145lbs)
World Championships:
Silver – Serdar Altas (125lbs), Anja Saxmark (125lbs), Joel Moya (145lbs)
Bronze – Lisa Engelke (135lbs)

Italy – total of 9 medals
European Open:
Silver – Marc Zannetti (135lbs)
Bronze – Asterio Lucchesini (185lbs), Paolo Anastasi (205lbs)
World Championships:
Gold Micol DiSegni (125lbs), Lucrezia Ria (135lbs)
Silver – Maria Vittoria Colonna (115lbs)
Bronze – Marco Zannetti (135lbs), Davide Gregorio La Torre (155lbs), Paolo Anastasi (205lbs)

Bulgaria – total of 5 medals
European Open:
Gold – Aleksandra Toncheva (115lbs), Daniel Galabarov (265lbs)
Silver – Dorian Dermendzhiev (170lbs)
Bronze – Tencho Karaenev (205lbs)
World Championships:
Silver – Tencho Karaenev (205lbs)

Ireland – total of 7 medals
European Open:
Gold – Ben Forsyth (205lbs)
Bronze – David Fogarty (125lbs), Thomas Martin (155lbs), Lee Hammond (155lbs), Ryan Spillane (265lbs)
World Championships:
Gold – Frans Mlambo (145lbs)
Silver – Sinead Kavanagh (145lbs)

Iceland – total of 3 medals
European Open:
Gold – Sunna Rannveig (125lbs), Bjarki Palsson (170lbs)
Bronze -Petur Oskarsson (265lbs)

France – total of 6 medals
European Open:
Bronze – Celine Provost (145lbs), Alexis Guilleux (135lbs)
World Championships:
Gold – Iurie Bejenari (125lbs)
Silver – Lucie Bertaud (135lbs)
Bronze – Nicolas Ott (145lbs), Allan Guichard (2656lbs)

Canada – total of 5 medals
European Open:
Bronze – Eloise Picard (135lbs)
World Championships:
Gold – Jamie Herrington (145lbs), Saeid Mirzaei (205lbs)
Silver – Alexander Martinez (170lbs)
Bronze –
Sambath Khun (125lbs)

Northern Ireland – total of 4 medals
European Open:
1 gold – Leah McCourt (155lbs)
1 silver – Ross McCorriston (145lbs)
World Championships:
Bronze – Carl McNally (125lbs), Denis Perry (205lbs)

Czech Republic – total of 3 medals
European Open:

Bronze – Michaela Dostalova (125lbs)
World Championships:
GoldZdenek Ledvina (265lbs)
Bronze – Michaela Dostalova (125lbs)

Poland – total of 3 medals
World Championships:
GoldKevin Szaflarski (265+lbs)
Bronze – Patryk Ruta (170lbs), Marcin Kalata (265lbs)

Norway – total of 4 medals
European Open:
Silver – Geir Kare Cemsoylu (155lbs), Marius Hakonsev (185lbs)
Bronze – Jorden indestviken (170lbs), Camilla Mannes (135lbs)

Kazakhstan – total of 2 medals:
World Championships:
Silver – Nurtilek Konashov (135lbs), Mokhammad Malagov (265+lbs)

Romania – total of 2 medals
European Open:
1 silver – Raluca Dinescu (115lbs)
World Championships:
Bronze – Vlad Mavrodin (265+lbs)

Hungary – total of 1 medal
European Open:
Silver – Balaze Kiss (205lbs)

Germany – total of 2 medals
European Open:
Bronze – Julia Dorny (145lbs)
World Championships:
Bronze – Julia Dorny (145lbs)

Lebanon – total of 2 medals
World Championships:
Bronze – Joeshwa Mortada (155lbs), Imad Alhowayeck (185lbs)

New Zealand – total of 2 medals
World Championships:
BronzeSarah Archer (115lbs), Braydan Graham (125lsb)

Bahrain total of 1 medal
European Open:
1 bronze – Hussain Haki Mahdi (125lbs)

Azerbaijan – total of 1 medal
European Open:
Bronze – Lyudmila Sadirina (115lbs)

South Africa – total of 1 medal
World Championships:
Bronze – Natalie Jean Ausmeier (125lbs)

Ukraine – total of 1 medal
World Championships:
Bronze – Yurii Bosyi (145lbs)