Columbia, MO’s Starks Wins Again at IMMAF Worlds, USA/Ireland Lead the Pack

Since the inception of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) World Championships in 2014, the United States has led the overall medal count with 14 (6 Gold, 1 Silver, 7 Bronze.) After four rough days of competition at the 2016 World Championships, Team USA was down to its last hope to bring home even one gold medal: Will “Soldier of Christ” Starks.

With stiffer competition this year perhaps more than any before it, the 170-pound defending champion was the last glimmer of hope for his country to win the big one. Team USA was 17-13 as a team heading into their and Sparks’ final fight.

Perhaps hockey won’t be the only sport in which Canada and the U.S. have a rivalry as standing across the cage from Sparks was the Alex Martinez of the Great White North.

Starks takes a textbook leg kick before firing off a jab. Martinez reacts by bringing the leg kick a little higher up on the body of his opponent. Starks then brings his rear leg forward and proceeds to wrap it around the left calf of Martinez. They continue feeling each other out, but Martinez is the one back-stepping.

What looks to be a right hook drops the Canadian with Starks now hovering over him. Starks dives for a takedown and finds himself eventually in Martinez’s guard and his legs tightening around Starks’ back. Martinez remains active from the bottom before both men work their way back to standing.

An accidental eye poke to Starks brings the contest to a pause. The fighters touch gloves and resume. Starks looks to land a shot from over the top but finds nothing. A left high kick sees more of the same. The clinch in the final seconds of the round with Martinez throwing a body kick just before the horn.

Martinez works to pick the right opportunity to come in on Starks to begin Round 2. A push kick does little to stop Starks from controlling the action. His left hand keep Martinez at bay before they tangle again. Starks tries to pull the Canuck’s neck down as they clinch briefly.

Martinez goes over the top but Starks seizes the chance to bring him to the floor with a waist takedown that mimics a WWE-style German Suplex. He then forces his way into full mount as he had in the first. Starks begins to bring down all of his body weight on Martinez’s neck and drops a few up-close elbows before they’re up again.

The red-clad Martinez attempts to go to the body once more with a kick. Starks catches it and looks like he might move in for a single-leg but Martinez spins out of the predicament. He then repeats the kick and is shoved to the canvas.

Following a few upkicks, Martinez tries to engage his man in his guard. Starks declines and swiftly takes his back. Martinez works to loosen the grip around his waist, but doesn’t and is taken to the ground. Starks doesn’t appear to be looking for the Rear-Naked Choke from this position, opting for hammerfists to the side of the head. The horn blares again as they squirm.

Now down to the final minutes, the graduate of Columbia, Missouri’s Hickman High (the same school as 2016 Olympic Wrestler J’den Cox) doesn’t rest on his lead.

Another overhand right and left hook keep Martinez near the fence. For a third time he attempts the left body kick and Starks slithers in. Martinez rolls to his stomach, his chances at victory fading. He’s forced again onto his back and now the American is dominating in side-control.

The midwesterner gains the back mount but rolls off to go back to the hammerfist. He decides to go back to wrestling and lands knees, never losing control of Martinez’s belt line. Martinez is up for only seconds before gazing at the lights. Clinch knees seal the deal.

Will Starks (USA) def. Alex Martinez (CAN) via Unanimous Decision for the 2016 IMMAF Welterweight championship of Amateur MMA.

Starks made history by becoming the first person to win two consecutive IMMAF world titles. He concluded a 22-1 amateur MMA career shortly after the event by signing with Titan FC.

Titan FC events can be streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

My Overall Ranking (based on overall medal count and medal ranking):

  1. Team USA/Team Ireland (5= 2B, 2S, 1G)

  2. Poland (5= 3B, 2S, 0G)

  3. Sweden (4= 1B, 0S, 3G

  • Honorable Mention: New Zealand (4= 3B, 0S, 1G)

Team USA still leads the overall medal count from 2014 to the current year with 19 medals (9B, 3S,7G.)

2016 IMMAF World Championship Medallist Results- via IMMAF

Austria: 1B, 0S, 0G

Bahrain: 1B, 0S, 0G

Bulgaria: 1B, 2S, 1G

Canada: 0B, 1S, 0G

Finland: 1B, 1S, 1G

France: 0B, 1S, 0G

Germany: 0B, 1S, 0G

Hungary: 1B, 0S, 0G

Ireland: 2B, 2S, 1G

Italy: 2B, 0S, 0G

N. Ireland: 1B, 0S, 1G

Norway: 0B, 1S, 0G

New Zealand: 3B, 0S, 1G

Lebanon: 1G, 0S, 0B

Poland: 3B, 2S, 0G

Romania: 2B, 0S, 0G

South Africa: 1B, 0S, 1G

Sweden: 1B, 0S, 3G

United Kingdom: 2B, 0S, 1G

USA: 2B, 2S, 1G