By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
Heavyweight amateur contender Irman Smajic began his mixed martial arts training just four years ago when he decided it was time to fight obesity, weighing in excess of 300lbs. Today he is the number-1 ranked athlete in IMMAF’s official pound-for-pound rankings, following his latest gold medal triumph at the 2017 Asian Open Championships in Singapore.
Representing the top ranked Swedish national team, Smajic entered the Asian Open with an opportunity to clinch the pound-for-pound top spot, in addition to fellow Swede and former pound-for-pound leader Gabriella Ringblom. The Swedish duo each secured the gold medal in their respective brackets; Smajic at heavyweight and Ringblom in the women’s flyweight division. However, when the ranking points were added to the existing totals, it was the 6’7″ ‘Bosnian Bomber’ who edged ahead with 2493 points to Ringblom’s 2457. Smajic takes the place of former no.1 Cornelia Holm who last competed when she won the European Open women’s bantamweight gold for a second time earlier this year before revealing her decision to turn professional.
“It feels incredible to be there today,” Smajic told IMMAF.org. “I started to go to the gym only 4 years ago, just to loose some weight. Four years later I am best pound-for-pound amateur in the world. Everything started with a friend that told me ‘try MMA, it will be fun’, and here I am, but nothing would be possible without my family and my coaches that I own everything to. My family for all the support and Johan Jorup and Anders Ohlsson (Swedish national team coach), they believed in me from day-one and have been there always so my biggest thanks to them.”
This year Smajic became the first male amateur to win gold medals in two separate weight divisions. The 2016 heavyweight world champion stepped up to the +265lb super-heavyweight bracket and clinched the 2017 European Open title due to making way for team mate Jonnie Andersson to register for the 265lb bracket. He since returned to heavyweight for the Asian Open venture and in the finals he finished Lebanon’s Alexandre Chaddad via TKO in the opening round, adding to his high percentage of stoppage victories.
Fighting out of Vaestervik, Sweden, Smajic travels 240km to train at Kampsportcentret in the town of Linköping and ahead of this year’s European Open began visiting Stockholm’s famed Allstars Training Centre to train alongside the likes of Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa. At 34-years-old Smajic had a late in life introduction to MMA but has accumulated a wealth of experience and accolades including IMMAF World Championship gold in 2016, European Open gold in 2017 (super-heavyweight), x2 European Open silver medals (2015, 2016) and most recently gold at the 2017 Asian Open.
“Big thanks to Allstars for giving me the opportunity to train with the best, not everybody gets a chance to train with Gustafsson and Manuwa.”
As Smajic aims to continue his conquering of 2017, just 2 international tournaments remain on the IMMAF calendar with the African Open kicking off on August 28 and serving as the final stop before the November World Championships in Bahrain.
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