Irish Youth & Junior/Senior Squads Selected for IMMAF’s; McGregor Funds Youth Trip

Both the Youth Squads and the Junior/Senior IMMAA teams were announced for the upcoming European/World Championships.

The IMMAF 2021 Youth MMA Championships for 12 to 18-year-olds takes place in Bulgaria from July 29 – August 1. The 2021 European Senior and Junior Open Championships is to follow between 16 and 21 of August in Russia. The Senior & Junior World Cup takes place from 8 – 11 September in Prague. IMMAF’s competition year is to culminate with the 2021 Senior and Junior World Championships which has been confirmed for the 27 November to 4 December in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan at Barys Arena.

Team seletion took place at SBG HQ. Participants were divided into three groups and participated in a three separate group training sessions for assessment by coaches. Coach Nerijus assessed Jiu Jitsu abilities, Coach Sergey assessed wrestling abilities and coaches Danni and Alan assessed striking abilities while Head Cadet Coach Philip oversaw each session.

Coaches met to discuss and confer which candidates they deemed of an appropriate technical level to progress onto the fight-offs.

Two spots are available per age, weight division and gender, with extra spots available for competitors from Northern Ireland.

Any divisions with more than two eligible participants engaged in tournament style fight offs in the MMA Cage refereed and judged by IMMAF Certified official Derek Hickey.

Team Ireland Coaches:

Philip Mulpeter (Head Cadet Coach)

Danni Neilan

Alan McCormack

Nerijus Gulbinas

Sergey Pikulskiy

Below are the details of Cadets who have been selected for the International team. Nathan Kelly, of SBG HQ was also selected for the team but has been forced to pull out of the competition due to injury, Luke Williamson of SBG Cork has stepped in to replace him.

Because Mixed Martial Arts is not recognised as a sport in Ireland many of these athletes will need to fundraise in order to pay for their training and travel expenses. That will not be an issue this year as the Cadet Squad found out this past weekend that Conor McGregor is to fund the entire trip in what was a fantastic gesture from the former UFC double champion.

Head Coach of the Cadet Squad Philip Mulpeter spoke to SevereMMA about his excitement ahead of this year’s tournament and has high hopes that the team will pick up a few gold medals.

“The Irish youth team is the best that I have ever seen this year. I was very surprised with the level that came through covid, there was a lot of destruction through preparations but everyone has seemed to have got out the other side intact, still carrying all their skills and are ready to go. We have had six or seven weeks of proper, solid training session with all the Irish coaches and the team and everyone is looking brilliant. We are all excited and are really looking forward the tournament. We are in the hunt for a few gold medals.”

Liam-Og Griffin, head coach at SBG Cork, is heavily involved with the teams preparations, and is also a board member in IMMAA(Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association). He spoke to SevereMMA about his excitement about the talented team and shared his gratitude towards the coaches who are helping the team prepare for the upcoming tournament.

“We went out there last year and that was the first year we travelled with a youth squad. It was the first year that IMMAF put on a youth championship tournament. We as a team didn’t know what to expect, and to be fair IMMAF didn’t really know what to expect either. We did the best we could but this year the lads have really taken it to a different level this year.”

“Phil, Nerijus, Sergey, Danni and Alan, as a team of coaches, have gone above and beyond to really pick a strong team and they have laid out a really good six week camp with two session a week for all the kids from all over Ireland to train. It’s going to be totally different ball game this year.”

“Twenty seven athletes, twenty coaches and everybody that has been selected is more than capable of winning a medal. There were kids that tried out for the team this year that were told this is not a holiday, we are not going out there for the experience, if you are not here to win a medal you might as well save your money, train hard, and try again next year. That’s more than we did last year. On every level I think this is going to be a better showing for team Ireland and I’m really looking forward to it and it’s great to have all of the coaches on board cracking the whip.”

The Junior/Senior squads were also announced last weekend. A strong team of 63 athletes from gyms all over the country will make the trip across the pond. They are set to compete at the 2021 European Senior and Junior Open Championships which take place between 16 and 21 August in Russia. That competition will set them up nicely for the 2021 Senior and Junior World Championships which has been confirmed for the 27 November to 4 December in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan at Barys Arena. You can see the entire list of athletes which will represent Team Ireland below.

Ian O'Neill is the host of the SevereMMA UFC Preview show and one of the co-hosts of The Auld Triangle - Irish MMA podcast. You can find more of Ian's work on the SevereMMA Patreon where he co-hosts The Chasing Pack and The Contender. Follow him on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma

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