By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
At the 2016 IMMAF World Championships Tolga Polat was, admittedly, unready for the new and unique challenge that awaited. The Turkish hopeful made his was to Las Vegas and UFC Fan Expo for a five-day tournament campaign against the top amateur contenders from IMMAF member nations across the globe.
Last year the judo black-belt represented Turkey in the IMMAF World Championships light-heavyweight bracket. However, after travelling to the other side of the world and pushing to make the 205lb weight limit, he found himself feeling drained and was handed an early exit via TKO stoppage by Poland’s Adam Bieganski.
Immediately, Polat was aware of his misjudged approach to the world’s premier amateur MMA championships. Without hesitation, he knew he would return in 2017 and committed to doing everything required to fill any holes in his game and better showcase himself.
“My hopes are to become world champion and take a medal to my country,” he explained. “I also want to put on a show that people will enjoy.”
Polat knew that he needed to make drastic improvements. This prompted a move to the UK for a final six weeks of full time training ahead of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships in November.
“I knew that there are so many elite boxing clubs and MMA athletes in the UK. I knew that here I can gain plenty of experience, that’s why I chose to come to the UK.”
Polat has based his UK camp in North London and has been welcomed by Team Titan at the Titan Fighter MMA Academy, one of the UK’s standout talent hubs, headed by fan favorite UFC veteran Brad Pickett.
In addition, the Team Titan stable has its heavyweight contingent for Polat to learn from. Staurt Austin, a former BAMMA-Lonsdale heavyweight champion, is among the experienced professionals passing on knowledge and experience to their Turkish visitor.
‘He’s a strong lad who is eager to learn,’ Pickett told IMMAF.org. ‘His wrestling stands out, I believe he will do well.’
Polat’s training has been diversified across three established facilities, aiming to enhance his boxing ability while Team Titan serves as the centerpiece of his preparations.
“I’m training with Brad Pickett at Titan Fighter, plus North London Boxing Club and Left Hook Boxing, to improve my boxing skills as well as MMA skill. It’s been extremely helpful.”
The 29-year-old now targets the 2017 IMMAF World Championships’ super-heavyweight bracket in anticipation of operating at full capacity. In Bahrain, he will be up against top ranked opposition including 2016 European Open gold medalists Atanas Krastanov and 2016 world silver medalist Marcin Kalata.
Taking place at Khalifa Sports City Arena from 12 to 19 November, as part of Brave International Combat Week, the 2017 World Championships are set to be the biggest event in the history of amateur MMA under IMMAF with more participants than ever before representing nations from all continents. 2017 marks the first year of the IMMAF Worlds taking place outside of Las Vegas, USA.
For information on brackets, national teams and live results from the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, visit MyNextMatch.com.