The wait is almost over for the UMMAF National Team as they set their sights on making the journey to Bahrain to take on the best amateur MMA fighters in the world.
The 2018 IMMAF World Championship Tournament is the pinnacle of amateur MMA competition, hosting 52 countries with 282 athletes set to compete over 5 days to crown the top amateur MMA athletes in the world. The event now in it’s 5th year is the crown jewel for IMMAF competition which also boast continental events in Africa, Asia and Europe. This year’s tournament, as was last year’s is being hosted in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The U.S Team boasts a wealth of experience beginning with returning 125 lb Bronze Medalist, Sean Stebbins. Stebbins who initially planned on pursuing a professional career after last years tournament incurred a neck injury that delayed his plans. After surgery, rehab and a clean bill of health, Stebbins looks to avenge his 2017 exit from the tournament with a Gold Medal win.
At 135 lbs the team has a pair of battle hardened veterans that faced each other at the 2017 UMMAF National Championship Tournament. Charles (Sam) Panietz and Michel D’Angelo Williams look to make their marks on the tournament this year with solid performances. Sam Panietz carries a 9-0 record into the tournament. Is it possible these two could face each other again somewhere in the tournament brackets?
The 145 lb. division also has 2 entries from the U.S. contingent that sees the return of UMMAF and IMMAF veteran Carlos Castro. Castro who brings experience from the 2015 UMMAF National Championships, 2016 IMMAF European Championships and 2016 IMMAF World Championships knows exactly the level of commitment it takes to compete at the highest level of amateur competition. Also in the 145 lb division is Alvin Miller the 11 amateur fight veteran who put on a gritty performance at the 2018 UMMAF National Championships against former UMMAF National Champion Chase Boutwell.
The 170 lb division promises to deliver some explosive action as the team enters 2018 UMMAF National Champion, LaRee Hutchinson and 2018 IMMAF Oceania Champion and 2017 IMMAF World Championships veteran Darian Weeks. Both athletes, prodigies USA Coach Robert Hulett, will have their hands full in a packed bracket of 32 fighters, each with dreams of IMMAF Gold. Coach Hulett is also the coach of current Brave FC fighter and 2017 IMMAF World Champion Benjamin Bennett and 2016 IMMAF World Champion William Starks.
At 185 lbs the U.S. Team enters Angelo Rivera Jr. Rivera is a second generation MMA fighter from Illinois training out of Combat-Do with Master Bob Schirmer. Schirmer is also known for guiding 3 different athletes to IMMAF Gold including 2x UMMAF National Champion, 2x IMMAF World Champion, 2 division Titan FC Champion, and current UFC Fighter Jose “Shorty” Torres. Master Schirmer is also the coach of 145 lb tournament entrant Michel D’Angelo Williams.
The 135 lb female division sees the return of Fotini Kandris to the IMMAF World Championships. After an early exit from last years tournament Kandris looks to this year with high expectations and a renewed vigor. Also in her division is U.S. Team member Laneisha Vinson. The 8 fight veteran has no reservations about serving notice to the rest of field they will certainly have their hands full should they meet her in the bracket. Both women promise to serve up great performances.
The UMMAF National Team is chosen each year at the UMMAF National Championship Tournament. Champions and the runner ups are eligible to compete in several international events, gaining invaluable experience. UMMAF National Director Ryan Brueggeman states, “I couldn’t be more proud of these athletes. The dedication it takes in and out of the gym to attend these tournaments is herculean. Not only must they train but they also put significant efforts into fund raising. It’s worth it if you take it seriously. There is no other event in the world that will test your readiness for a professional career. These fighters compete against the best in the world. If you walk out of that tournament as a medalist and even better, a champion, then you have used the ultimate measuring stick available to determine your readiness. While many athletes turn professional for $300 paychecks per fight, many of our champions, by virtue of competing with the best athletes in the amateur ranks, have leveraged that experience into much more lucrative contracts with larger promotions. ”
To be part of this great event, athletes must compete and win or be the runner up at the UMMAF National Championship Tournament. The 2019 edition of that event will be announced soon along with sign up details. The tournament can be viewed live at https://www.immaf.tv/