By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
Former IMMAF world champions Aleksandra Toncheva and Leah McCourt were in action over the weekend, competing at the World Jui-Jitsu IBJJF No-Gi Championships on 16-17 December in Anaheim, Californian, USA.
The golden duo of amateur MMA met for the first time since the 2016 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas, in conjunction with the UFC Fan Expo. Toncheva took the gold medal back to Bulgaria as the Women’s strawweight world champion while McCourt earned the gold for Northern Ireland in the Women’s lightweight bracket.
Both athletes remained undefeated on the international IMMAF platform and made history beyond that of their world title accolades. McCourt was the first athlete to earn a gold medal in two weight divisions after first winning the lightweight title at the 2015 European Open. Toncheva was one of three athletes to be the first to win back-to-back European Open titles, doing so consecutively in Birmingham 2015 and Prague 2016.
Each displayed striking talent as amateur mixed martial artists. McCourt: the rangy kickboxer, Toncheva: a relentlessly energetic puncher on the inside. However, it was their their grappling foundations that ushered much of their success under IMMAF.
At the IBJJF championships, Toncheva earned the silver medal (pictured above) battling against 15 other competitors in the Adult Female Blue Belt Light-Featherweight bracket. The 26-year-old took to social media following the final result, expressing her delight at having made it to the final despite carrying an injury into the competition.
In contrast, 25-year-old McCourt – also judo black belt – expressed disappointment. Having clinched the gold medal and world title as a blue belt in 2016, she left with a bronze medal from the Purple Belt Medium-Heavy division. Nevertheless, she will carry the added experience and motivation forward a tremendous 2018.