By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation of Australia (IMMAFA) has confirmed the first five athletes set to represent the nation on home soil when Australia hosts the 2018 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships, from 16-18 March at the Arnold Sports Festival in Melbourne. Athlete registration closes on Friday, February 16.
Of the five athletes so far revealed for the Aussie national team, 33-year-old Amber Thompson steps up as the first newcomer to be named. Undefeated at the domestic level, Thompson makes her international debut and enters the Women’s Bantamweight division having gone 3-0 in 2017, including a TKO triumph at the Australian Federation’s national event which has also been an annual fixture of the Arnold Sports Festival.
She will be joined by 21-year-old striking specialist, Alish Smith, Australia’s youngest representative and a veteran of the 2017 Asian Open and World Championships, returning to the Women’s Flyweight division. Look for the young competitor’s brisk kickboxing to be complimented by her evolving ground game.
Welterweight Cody Barnwell, 28, faced an early exit from last year’s Asian Open, but returned for the 2017 World Championships to secure one of three bronze medals captured by the Australian Team. The seasoned kickboxing specialist accumulated over 10 rounds of valuable experience in Bahrain, collecting three decision victories against opposition from South Africa, Italy and Russia to make it as far as the semi-finals.
Sam Lawson, also 28, is set to rejoin the Middleweight ranks after stepping up to Light-Heavyweight for the 2017 World Championships. There, he reached the quarter-finals, snatching respective submission and TKO stoppages in the two prior rounds before being stopped by eventual gold medal winner, Murtaza Talha Ali. As a Middleweight competitor, Lawson picked up bronze at the 2017 Asian Open in Singapore.
Also entering the Middleweight bracket is 25-year-old Joseph Luciano, the team’s most experienced veteran of the international IMMAF platform. Luciano first impressed as a Welterweight at the 2016 World Championships where he bested prominent Austrian and French standouts, Florian Aberger and Henri Dimitri. Since then, he has competed as a Middleweight and achieved the silver medal as a finalist of the 2017 Asian Open. Most recently, he was awarded bronze at the 2017 World Championships after a trio of victories over Northern Ireland’s Paddy Henderson, top Malaysian champion Theebaan Govindasamy and the USA’s Darian Weeks.
In IMMAF championships alone, Luciano has collected an impressive 7-3 record, only ever losing out to eventual champions or silver medalists. In Melbourne, he will make the push to secure his first IMMAF gold medal and is likely to be a top seed as the world’s #5 ranked middleweight contender.
For more tournament details and team information from the Oceania Open, visit MyNextMatch.com.