By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran.
Next month 24-year-old heavyweight contender Delano Human rejoins the South African national team for the IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Amateur Championships in Manama, Bahrain.
As a fresh face on the international amateur platform, Human made his debut under the IMMAF banner at last year’s IMMAF World Championships. Following the opening draw of the heavyweight bracket, he announced himself with a second round TKO victory over Austria’s Besart Berisha.
However, the biggest challenge that any heavyweight could expect came his way in the quarter-finals, facing off against Sweden’s reigning heavyweight world champion, Irman Smajic.
While Smajic was riding a four-fight win streak throughout 2017 (all stoppages), the South African underdog came close to achieving the unthinkable.
Human went the distance with the Swedish giant, the first man to do so since 2016. His engagement and front foot aggressiveness asked serious questions of reigning champion Smajic, but the discipline and experience of the multiple time gold medal winner saw him do what was needed to edge control of the bout on the judge’s scorecards (full fight available at immaf.tv).
“It is irrelevant how I feel about the decision loss,” Human told IMMAF.org. “The result is how it stands and it is how the majority of respected judges decided. In consideration to my fight with Irman, it was only my fourth as an amateur and I had fought the previous day and he had not. I reckon I am able to pat myself on the back, but only hold myself accountable for leaving it up to the judges.”
Despite facing narrow defeat, Human had supplied one of the most significant challenges in the career of amateur MMA’s most decorated heavyweight. The compelling outcome set the tone for a 2018 World Championships return where this time he would surely be among the podium prospects.
“As far as my place in the division goes,” he commented, “it doesn’t matter what the rankings say. It’s all about the the fight and standing on the podium after the tournament. I want to fight the best just to prove that they are second best.”
Human was confident that he would face Smajic for a second time this year, but with the heavyweight king having recently announced his professional debut, the long occupied throne is vacant and this year’s World Championships are guaranteed to crown a new top heavyweight.
“I expect a few new faces in the division,” Human said, “as well as some familiar ones from last year’s tournament. Nonetheless, it is expected that everyone would have been busy bettering themselves to be in top condition.”
“I moved to a different city in the last year and joined BJMMA under the guidance of my new coach Bobby Karagiannidis, he has a win over John Kavanagh and is a 2nd degree black belt in Ju jitsu. I also joined a purist boxing gym, Sugar Ray’s, with Raymond Cerfonteyn helping me with my striking and strength and conditioning.”