Pictured above: 2016 European Open Men’s Flyweight medalists, from left to right – David Fogarty (Silver), Serdar Altas (Gold), Sanan Safarli (Bronze)
Since its inaugural event in 2015 the IMMAF European Open Championships have grown to become the second largest event in amateur MMA, second only to the IMMAF Worlds.
The UK was the first nation to host the competition in 2015, taking place in Birmingham, and was followed by the Czech Republic who welcomed the championships to Prague in 2016. A total of 27 gold medals have been earned by European Open champions of the past 2 years across 14 weight divisions from Men’s/Women’s Strawweight all the way up to the +265lb Super-Heavyweight bracket which was added in 2016.
Of the 24 athletes who have clinched gold, who stands as the most decorated? Each champion has been listed below in order of their success under the European Open banner with top positions decided by way of the gold standard, followed by measure of success after featuring at both 2015 and 2016 events.
x2 Gold: Alexsandra Toncheva (Bulgaria, 115lbs)
x2 Gold: Rostem Akman (Sweden, 185lbs)
x2 Gold: Daniel Galabarov (Bulgaria, 265lbs)
It’s a three way tie for the competition’s most decorated champion with Alexandra Toncheva, Rostem Akman and Daniel Galabarov having each won the title in 2015 before returning to successfully retain their crowns in 2016. The trio made history as the first athletes to win back-to-back gold at the European Open.
x1 Gold, x1 Silver: Cornelia Holm (Sweden, 135lbs/145lbs)
The European Open’s second highest achiever is Cornelia Holm. As a Featherweight competitor Holm earned silver at the 2015 European Open before returning to the competition and winning gold as a bantamweight the following year in addition to becoming the 2016 IMMAF world champion in Las Vegas, USA.
x1 Gold, x1 Bronze: Renato Vidovic (Sweden, 135lbs)
Renato Vidovic was awarded bronze at the 2015 European Open after losing via the scorecards in a semi-final contest with eventual champion Abdul Hussein. In 2016 Vidovic returned and made it to the final where he bested Italian standout and two-time silver medalist Marco Zannettii to clinch gold.
x1 Gold: Ferdun Osmanov (Bulgaria, 155lbs)
x1 Gold: Egill Hjordisarson (Iceland, 205lbs)
Both Ferdun Osmanov and Egill Hjordisaron made their way to the 2015 European Open and secured impressive victories in the opening round of competition before each being eliminated by eventual medal winners. The young Osmanov fell victim to eventual champion Jack Shore while Hjordisarson lost out to bronze medalist Tencho Karaenev. However, both men returned as different fighters in 2016, now rich from experience they each showcased an all new talent level and triumphed in their respective divisions to earn gold.
The remaining 17 gold medalists each reigned as a champion of either the 2015 or 2016 European Open. Several top new prospects emerged and reigned supreme in 2016 while champions of the previous year such as Leah McCourt and Abdul Hussein went on to be crowned IMMAF world champions. the likes of Iceland’s Sunna Rannveig Davíðsdóttir and the UK’s Jack Shore transitioned to become standout competitors at the pro level.
2015 Women’s 125lb champion: Sunna Rannveig (Iceland)
2015 Women’s 135lb champion: Varpu Rinne (Finland)
2015 Women’s 145lb champion: Sanna Merta (Finland)
2015 Women’s 155lb champion: Leah McCourt (Northern Ireland)
2015 Men’s 125lb champion: Jake Bond (UK)
2015 Men’s 135lb champion: Abdul Hussein (Finland)
2015 Men’s 145lb champion: Joel Moya Schondorff (Sweden)
2015 Men’s 155lb champion: Jack Shore (UK)
2015 Men’s Welterweight champion: Bjarki Palsson (Iceland)
2015 Men’s 205lb champion: Ben Forsyth (Republic of Ireland)
2016 Women’s 125lb champion: Alexandra Kovacs (Hungary)
2016 Men’s 125lb champion: Serdar Altas (Sweden)
2016 Men’s 145lb champion: Daniel Schalander (Sweden)
2016 Women’s 145lb champion: Joanne Doyle (UK)
2016 Women’s 155lb champion: Helin Paara (Estonia)
2016 Men’s 170lb champion: Nikolay Nikolov (Bulgaria)
2016 Men’s +265lb champion: Atanas Krastanov (Bulgaria)