Above: IMMAF World Heavyweight Champion Irman Smajic, photo by Jorden Curran
Reigning IMMAF World Heavyweight Amateur Champion Irman Smajic has revealed to IMMAF.org that he plans to take on new challenges in 2017 by joining the +265lb Super-Heavyweight division.
The Swedish Heavyweight conquered IMMAF’s 2016 World Championships in Las Vegas with an imposing presence. The big Swede claimed 4 victories from July 6-10, each triumph signed off with a roar that shook the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“2016 was a fantastic year,” he recalled. “The World Championships happened so fast, it took a while to realize that I won. It was not until I got home and people on the street started to say congratulations, then it sunk in.”
At the 2016 European Open in Prague, Smajic let loose once again and made his presence felt immediately, knocking out Irishman Ryan Spillane in just 16 seconds.
“I got in to the finals again at the European Championship and that felt like some kind of validation that I am one of the best in my division.”
Throughout 2016 a trifecta of top Heavyweight contenders excelled atop the division. Smajic was joined by Bulgaria’s two-time European Open champion Daniel Galabarov and French World Silver medalist Allan Guichard. The trio became linked in a rock-paper-scissors effect; Smajic would best Guichard to win Gold at the World Championships, but in turn lost twice to Galabarov in the 2015 and 2016 European Open final. Galabarov was forced to settle for Bronze at the 2016 Worlds due to a semi-final defeat at the hands of Guichard who holds two victories over the Bulgarian.
The Father of two children spoke of the friendship he developed with top rival Galabarov: “They (Glabarov and Guichard) are both great fighters and great guys. I have even become good friend with Daniel Galabaraov during our time backstage. At the European Open Championship we helped each other warm up before stepping out in to the octagon to face each other.
“I would like to meet Daniel again, I’m sure our paths will meet.”
Smajic has now decided to take on a fresh challenge in the form of the Super-Heavyweight division. Facing the +265lb ranks will be a colossal venture, but presents the opportunity to grab a mighty accolade as the first man to win top honors in two weight brackets, against the biggest of them all no less.
Success on IMMAF’s international amateur platform has excelled athletes towards prominent professional debuts with leading promoters around the world such a Titan FC, Invicta FC and EFC. Smajic believes that conquering a second division could lead him towards the top flight of the UFC Heavyweight division.
“There is a good friend that trains at the same club as me and for both of us to get the chance to compete internationally, I decided to step up so we can represent 2 weight classes. I have thought about it for a while and this can maybe take me one step closer to being the first amateur fighter that the UFC calls. Of course, it is a new challenge to “play” with the biggest within MMA and it would be a dream to win 2 golds in 2 weight classes.”
Smajic revealed that he has been contemplating the switch for the past 6 months and expects an increase in weight of around 20lbs, taking him somewhere between 280-290lbs.
The 34-year-old confirmed that he has taken note of the potential and also youthful opposition. Possible rivals include Lebanon’s 2016 World Champion behemoth Charbel Diab and Bulgaria’s 19-year-old giant Atanas Krastanov who battled his way to Gold at the 2016 European Open. Smajic’s assessment was simple; “They are big guys that hit hard! I think I can join in and give them a good fight, a fight that is entertaining to watch.”
Beginning with the 2017 European Open, taking place from 29 March – 2 April in Sofia, Bulgaria, Smajic aims to remain active and compete in each IMMAF championship tournament this year, in addition to the SMMAF Swedish Nationals.
By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran