Sweden’s Irman Smajic became the first Men’s competitor to win a championship gold medal in two separate weight divisions when he triumphed at the 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Smajic, who had previously earned European Open silver as a Heavyweight (-265lbs) in both 2015 and 2016, achieved his first gold medal in the continental Open this year competing as a Super-Heavyweight (265lb+) challenger for the first time. ‘The Bosnian Bomber’ is also the reigning IMMAF World Heavyweight Champion having claimed Amateur MMA’s top prize at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas, USA, in association with UFC International Fight Week and UFC Fan Expo.
Back in January the now World and European Open gold medal winner discussed his motivations for targeting a new division, in addition to his UFC aspirations, during an interview with IMMAF.org.
In the European Open semi-finals, he faced off against Polish standout Marcin Kalata, who had previously defeated Smajic as a Heavyweight via the judge’s scorecards at the World Championships in 2015. In their second meeting as amateur contenders it was Smajic who took victory via submission in the second round while tightly smothering his opponent from the full mount position with his chest to force a tap-out.
Ahead of the 2017 European Open Smajic spent time training at the famous Allstars Training Center in Stockholm, mixing it up with top UFC contenders Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa. During a guest media appearance in London for UFC Fight Night on March 18, Gustafsson referenced the heaviness of Smajic from the top position and it appears that the amateur champion diversified his offence accordingly having previously built a reputation as a big hitting standup enthusiast. Against Austrian quarter-finalist Damian Visenjak, the Swede secured his takedown early on to see a swift TKO victory in the opening due to strikes. In his rematch with Kalata, Smajic shut down the developing slugfest and clinched up to secure leg trip takedowns.
The tournament final came to a premature end as Smajic took on defending champion, 19-year-old Atanas Krastanov. After a cautious opening round between the two juggernauts, Smajic evaded an overhand left from Krastanov that in turn caused the defending champion to sustain a shoulder injury that rendered him unable to continue, thus bringing an end to the bout via TKO.
Following his victory the big Swede stated that he has an eye on both on the upcoming Asian Open Championships in Singapore, plus this year’s World Championships in Bahrain. Smajic is yet to confirm if he will compete as a Heavyweight or Super-Heavyweight.
The first amateur athlete to win IMMAF titles in separate weight brackets was Northern Ireland’s Leah McCourt who made her international debut by winning the inaugural Women’s Lightweight tournament at the 2015 European Open in Birmingham, UK. The BJJ wiz then entered the Featherweight bracket for the 2016 World Championships where she swept the opposition to take a historic second gold medal.
By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran