By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer, Jorden Curran
The cancellation of a professional debut has afforded New Zealand’s Gase Sanita the opportunity to make history at the world’s premier amateur MMA championships.
Also following the postponement of China hosting the IMMAF Asian Open, the reigning women’s lightweight world champion was among the vast majority of registered athletes to immediately transfer for early registration to the upcoming IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships. She will represent the New Zealand national team from 11-18 November in Manama, Bahrain.
“This November I will further drop in weight division (to featherweight) and try bring another gold for the team,” Sanita wrote via social media. “I’m more determined, focused and driven to get the job done. throughout this camp I have learnt a lot about myself as a fighter and a person. I have pushed and definitely stretched my mental limitations and physical passed what even I believed I could do.”
“I cannot express and share enough how truly thankful we are for everyone’s support! Without everyone’s support nothing of what we have achieved or are wanting to achieve would ever be possible! We are truly blessed with the most amazing team of supporters.”
Success upon her return to Bahrain could see the Kiwi standout become the first woman to win a second world title, and in an additional weight bracket. However, rivaling Sanita for the achievement will be Italy’s featherweight world champion Fabiana Giampa, who also returns to target a lower weight, this time entering the women’s bantamweight division.
During the 2017 gold medal campaign, Sanita showcased her potential in the semi-finals as the grappling based contender boxed her way through a thrilling a split-decision encounter with perennial top contender Julia Dorny. Sanita edged the scorecard victory with a persistent effort to overcome the reach of her much taller opposition.
Once again facing larger opposition, Sanita met the UK’s Kaycee Blake in the 2017 final and with little delay proceeded to nullify the Brit on the ground and hunt for a choke before finishing the bout with a second round arm-bar submission to take home the gold medal. The reigning IMMAF world champion picked up momentum this month ahead of Bahrain 2018 with another arm-bar submission triumph on the national circuit.
Former amateur sensation Jose Torres was the first athlete to win back-to-back IMMAF world titles. Representing the USA, the now UFC contender twice went all the way at men’s bantamweight to earn gold medals in 2014 and 2015. The feat was equaled in 2016 by Will Starks, also of the USA national team, who retained the welterweight crown. Sweden’s Irman Smajic was the third the be crowned a two-time IMMAF world champion, winning the heavyweight gold in 2016 and 2017.
Athlete registration for the 2018 World Championships closes on October 1. For more event and team information visit MyNextMatch.com.