Above: 2016 IMMAF World Champions
By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
In 2015 the IMMAF World Rankings were a first for international amateur MMA, pertaining to both national team rankings and individual competitor rankings, by weight category and pound-for-pound.
The IMMAF World Amateur MMA Ranking list is based on points obtained through participation in IMMAF world and continental open championships. Points are earned by athletes as detailed below, and both individual athletes and national teams are ranked accordingly.
Rankings can reflect significant developments with the passing of each international championship gathering, but none more so than following the IMMAF World Championships where athletes can accumulate greater point totals in addition to the lifespan of previously earned points now decreasing in value. All points earned remain at 100% value for 12 months from the date of competition before gradually decreasing. Therefore high ranked athletes, who are less active or now professional competitors, will be overtaken as their totals decline.
Taking place at Khalifa Sports City Arena from 12 to 19 November, as part of Brave International Combat Week, the 2017 IMMAF World Championships are anticipated to be the biggest event in the history of amateur MMA under IMMAF with more participants than ever before representing nations from all continents.
In April, Sweden’s Cornelia Holm took over from Gabriella Ringblom as the no.1 ranked athlete in the IMMAF pound-for-pound rankings. Since then the crown has shifted to Irman Smajic following his gold medal triumph at the Asian Open Championships in Singapore. Since the departure of former number 1, the USA’s Brendan Allen, amateur MMA’s highest ranked position has been occupied by aforementioned Swedish world champions, in addition to the nation’s dominance of the team rankings, overtaking the USA.
The list of 45 ranked national teams is currently led by a top 5 of Sweden, Bulgaria, South Africa and the UK with Kazakhstan as the newest face breaking in at the top and showing signs of being a fast rising challenger to the perennial leaders. Also among the top nations, ranked 5th-10th: Ireland, Finland, Italy, Russia and the USA.
While the top 8 pound-for-pound positions are occupied by either Swedish or Bulgarian athletes, individual weight categories are beginning to show the cream of further nation rising to the top, catching up on their
Swedish and Bulgarian counterparts.
A number of familiar faces have climbed the rankings thanks to their talent progression and continued participation at IMMAF championship events. In addition, new faces have burst onto the IMMAF platform to win gold and immediately assert themselves as top contenders.
This year the likes of Sanan Safarli (Azerbaijan), Hussain Abdulla (Bahrain) and Imad Hoayek (Lebanon) have enjoyed breakthrough performances that placed them and their nations significantly higher in their respective divisions.
Meanwhile, fresh faces such as Hannah Scoggins (USA), Fannie Redman (Sweden), Ofelia Nikolaeva (Bulgaria) Abdulmanap Magomedov (Russia), Dario Bellandi (Italy) and Adam Amarasinghe (UK) have each claimed 2017 continental titles to force their way in with immediate effect.
In many nations the number of Women’s participants stepping forward to compete is at a lower level. Despite this, the IMMAF Flyweight division in particular continues to be among the most competitive brackets and will enjoy high participation in Bahrain. The top 4 ranked positions go to Gabriella Ringblom (Sweden), Alexandra Kovacs (Hungary), Anette Osterberg (Finland) and Anja Saxmark (Sweden) who have been consistent medalists showcasing passionate competition between one another.
The combined ranking points of the top 4 Women’s Flyweights are higher than that of any other top 4 across all divisions.
Over the past 12 months IMMAF has said goodbye to several champions who have announced their decision to move on as professional competitors, many having already done so with prominent beginnings thanks to their amateur accolades. Great champions and athletes who we can expect relinquish their high ranked positions upon the next update include: Abdul Hussein (Finland), Adam Amarasinghe (UK), Shoaib Yousaf (UK) Pieter Roets (South Africa), Ferdun Osmanov (Bulgaria), Alexandra Toncheva (Bulgaria), Will Starks (USA), Byron Chivers (New Zealand) Rostem Akman (Sweden), Charbel Diab (Lebanon) Gabriella Ringblom (Sweden), Cornelia Holm (Sweden) and Leah McCourt (Northern Ireland).