The first ever IMMAF European Open Championships of Amateur MMA took place in Birmingham over the weekend, and a number of Irish fighters turned in medal winning performances.
The IMMAF was formed in Stockholm, Sweden in February of 2012. According to the organization’s official website, their mission statement was to “further the development and recognition of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, enabling international competition through the organization of national MMA federations around the world”.
In 2014, they held their inaugural World Championships of Amateur MMA in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year they have continued to build upon these foundations by once again holding the World Championships in the ‘fight capital of the world’, and by adding this European Championship event to their calendar.
So far the IMMAF competitions have been happy hunting grounds for Irish fighters, who compete under the auspices of the Irish Amateur Pankration Association(IAPA). At the 2015 World Championships, which were held the same week as Conor McGregor’s win over Chad Mendes at UFC 189, Straight Blast Gym representative Frans Mlambo scooped gold at featherweight. In the women’s featherweight bracket, Sinead Kavanagh added a silver to the Irish tally.
That run of success continued this weekend, as two Irish fighters picked up bronze medals, while another earned the top prize in his weight class.
David Fogarty won his bronze at Flyweight, while teammate Ryan Spillane achieved the same accolade at the opposite end of the scale at heavyweight.
It was Ben Forsyth of SBG, however, that proved the big winner.
“The Spyder Monkey” won three times to claim the gold medal at light-heavyweight, beating Balaze Kiss of Hungary via TKO in the final.
Following Forsyth’s victory, his coach and the president of the IAPA, John Kavanagh, took to Twitter to post this photograph from the medal ceremony.
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) November 22, 2015
Northern Ireland also had a successful campaign, with Leah McCourt claiming gold in the women’s 155lb division, and Ross McCorriston claiming silver at featherweight.
The continued success of Irish fighters, both north and south of the border, in these international amateur events is a really encouraging sign for those who care about the future of the sport of MMA on these shores.