By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
The World’s light-heavyweight amateur contenders will descend on the 2018 IMMAF European Championships next week as they aim to tackle the undefeated 2017 IMMAF World Champion, Murtaza Talha Ali (pictured above, center), who plans to expand his dominance to the continental championships.
The World’s top 3 ranked 205lbers sit atop the 13-man tournament with the championships playing out from 17-23 June in Bucharest, Romania.
Sweden’s Anton Turkalj (above, right), the World number-2, returns to the Euros as the defending champion who made his debut on the IMMAF platform last year in Bulgaria, claiming the gold medal as he battled his way to the tournament finals and submitted Kazakhstan’s own daunting newcomer, Kudaibergen Toleubayev, with a triangle-choke submission in the final round.
At last November’s 2017 World Championships in Bahrain, Turkalj was on a roll with a pair of stoppage victories seeing him through to the quarter-finals, yet the Swede was eliminated from the final-8 by Belarusian Pavel Pahomenko (above, left), who swiftly secured a triangle-choke in the opening round.
Turkalj returned home and the following month was back to winning ways, conquering the SMMAF national amateur championships with his prolific submission prowess, claiming choke-hold stoppages over his last two domestic opponents.
As the number-2 seed in next week’s -205lb bracket, Turkalj can land an opportunity to avenge his World Championships defeat against third seed Pahomenko, though the World silver medalist will be eyeing his own redemption, against the reigning king of the division, the World number-1, Murtaza Ali.
Team Bahrain’s Murtaza Talha Ali triumphed against all comers at the 2017 World Championships. After forcing TKO stoppages against his first three opponents, he went on to submit Poland’s incredibly durable Pawel Zakrewski, troubling the division standout on his feet before sinking in a rear-naked-choke, advancing to the semi-finals.
The young juggernaut had waded through his World Championship rivals, and it’s scary to consider the amount of room that is left for the 21-year-old to further develop his ability. At the World Championship finals, 25-year-old Pahomenko utilized his dexterity and length to nullify Ali’s top position and cause a stalemate in the opening round.
For the second and third rounds, Ali could not be stopped as he continued to push though his opponent’s superior range to land a series of blows that dramatically shook the focus of Pahomeko and solidified a unanimous decision triumph. For now, the reigning World Champion is yet to face an opponent who can withstand the power of his forward momentum.
Athletes competing in the 2018 European Championships -205lb senior division include:
#1 seed: Murtaza Talha Ali (Bahrain)
#2 seed: Anton Turkalj (Sweden)
#3 seed: Pavel Pahomenko (Belarus)
#4 seed: Robin Larsson (Sweden)
Daniele Matiddi (Italy)
Dominic Wenzlaff (Germany)
Mario Kainz (Austria)
Hristo Bonchev (Bulgaria)
Cathal Manning (Ireland)
Kris Blake (UK)
Aaron Darby (Ireland)
Viktor Chekis (Russia)
Vlad Ilin (Ukraine)