The IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards were held today ©IMMAF

Bahrain won the male and female athlete of the year prizes at the International Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAF) Amateur MMA Awards.

Ramazan Gitinov was announced as the men's winner here while the women's accolade went to Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa.

Both are members of the impressive group of foreign-born fighters which Bahrain has brought under its flag.

Gitinov is rated as the best pound-for-pound fighter in IMMAF and is the reigning welterweight world champion.

He will bid to retain his title at the 2021 World Championships which are ongoing here, as he has reached Saturday's (January 29) gold-medal bout against Jovidon Mahmudov of Tajikistan.

In 2021, Gitinov, who like many other MMA stars was born in the Dagestan republic of Russia, won the European Open title in Kazan.

De Sousa is the holder of the women's featherweight world title and will also attempt to defend her crown on Saturday when she meets Norway's Cecilie Bolander.

The Brazilian-born fighter also came out on top in Kazan.

Other awards handed out included performance of the year going to Kazakhstan's Ayan Tursyn for her spinning back fist knockout at the European Open.

Otabek Rajabov of Tajikistan won two prizes - junior athlete of the year and newcomer of the year.

National Federation of the year went to Zambia, a new governing body which has already achieved much in areas such as gaining recognition and holding events.

The Russian Mixed Martial Arts Union was named as host federation of the year for its efforts staging the European Open, while the "award of excellence" went to Australia for its youth programmes.

Michele Verroken, who has led IMMAF's anti-doping and integrity work since 2005, received the President's Award after the governing body was accepted as a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code.

This key step, achieved after years of lobbying and legal action, is a crucial development for the sport's Olympic ambitions.

Bulgaria won an anti-doping education award while the United Arab Emirates received a special prize for hosting the ongoing World Championships at short notice, having only taken over responsibility from Kazakhstan in November.

The coach education award went to French Polynesia, while Greece was honoured for a grading scheme and France was named as best on social media.

Ukraine won the best IT prize and the regulatory excellence and contribution award was shared by officials Scott Manhardt and Manap Mabdiev.