Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa won the battle of reigning world champions ©IMMAF

Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa won the battle of the gold medallists at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) World Championships, but super-heavyweight star Pasha Kharkhachaev was dumped out on a semi-finals day hit by COVID-19 positives. 

Six fighters failed tests for coronavirus here, meaning their opponents progressed straight into the final without having to enter the cage.

The official schedule listed seven athletes who were absent due to not being medically cleared, meaning one missed out for another reason.

In the senior weight divisions, Russian Mixed Martial Arts Union (RMMAU) pair Yana Markova and  Kurban Zainukov, in the women's atomweight and men's featherweight respectively, both failed to appear.

Israel's men's bantamweight contender Yevgeni Shinkarevsky was another senior not to fight, with four fighters also missing from the junior events.

Twenty-six athletes have reportedly tested positive in all, with two days of competition remaining.

Plenty of fights did still go ahead today across four cages, including the unanimous victory for Bahrain's defending women's featherweight champion De Sousa over New Zealand's Michelle Montague.

Reigning lightweight champion Montague has dropped down a weight division but could not get the better of her rival who also defeated her at the European Open.

De Sousa will now lock horns with Norway's Cecilie Bolander for gold after the World Cup champion impressively submitted Zhansaya Yermagambetova of Kazakhstan with a first-round armbar.

Semi-final bouts took centre stage on day four ©IMMAF
Semi-final bouts took centre stage on day four ©IMMAF

Bahrain's big-hitting super-heavyweight Kharkhachaev made a shock exit to RMMAU man Shamsutdin Makhmudov who pulled off a major upset.

Kharkhachaev, looking for his third consecutive world title and undefeated, looked tired and lacklustre and did not get going in a fight where there was little incident.

Makhmudov provided the best of what little offence there was and gained a unanimous decision.

Rassul Khatayev of Kazakhstan submitted Ikhtiyor Khalmuradov of Uzbekistan in round two with an ankle lock to also reach the final.

Defeat for Kharkhachaev means Kazakhstan's strawweight Bagdat Zhubanysh is now the only fighter able to win a third world title here, a feat which has never been achieved.

He came through his last-four contest by unanimous decision against compatriot Yerulan Kabdulov.

Zhubanysh will now have to face RMMAU man Farkhod Rakhmonaliev, who was given a split verdict against team-mate Kurban Omarov.

In the men's welterweight, defending champion Ramazan Gitinov defeated Abdyla Aliev of the RMMAU by unanimous decision to continue his charge towards another title.

He will take on Tajikistan's World Cup winner Jovidon Mahmudov in the final after his opponent Bogdan Pshebelskiy of Kazakhstan did not return from his seat at the end of round two.

There was drama and confusion in the men's middleweight as impressive New Zealander Fergus Jenkins was originally included on the list of athletes who were not medically cleared.

This, however, was an apparent mistake and Jenkins and his Irish opponent Paul Buckley surprisingly turned up unadvertised at the end of cage four's schedule to contest their semi-final.

Jenkins wasted little time, choking out his opponent in round one to go through to fight for gold.

He'll meet Iusup Magomedov of the RMMAU who earned a unanimous decision against Sultan Omarov of Bahrain.

The women's strawweight only saw one semi-final as Fabio Silva forfeited her all-Bahrain clash with European Open champion Aieza Ramos Bertolso.

This meant that Bertolso has made the final without having to fight in any of her three rounds, after receiving a bye in the first before her quarter-final opponent pulled out.

A new IMMAF rule dictates that the two fighters a country is allowed to enter in a weight division must be on the same side of the draw. 

Fergus Jenkins appeared to fight when originally being listed as injured ©IMMAF
Fergus Jenkins appeared to fight when originally being listed as injured ©IMMAF

This is designed to stop forfeitures in the final, after three gold-medal bouts in 2019 were called off for this reason including two all-Bahrain affairs.

World Cup winner Josefine Modig of Sweden won a split decision against Kazakhstan's Altynay Mergenbay to book her spot against Bertolso.

Spanish World Cup winner Juan Izquierdo gained a split decision to beat Bakhtiyor Husainov of Tajikistan in the men's featherweight.

He will now meet Kazakhstan's Bekzat Zhassiya in the final, who did not need to fight today due to Zainukov's withdrawal.

The men's heavyweight final will be between Bahrain's Rasul Magomedov, the World Cup and European Open champion, and Shamil Kuramagomedov of the RMMAU.

Magomedov came up against Germany's Tom Hoelemann, a winner twice this week with two massive kicks, and beat him via unanimous decision.

Kuramagomedov won by unanimous decision against RMMAU team-mate Khalil Ibnukhazharov.

In the men's light heavyweight, Dzhamal Medzhidov gained a split decision over his RMMAU rival Magomed Shakhrudinov to reach the final.

He'll face Sweden's clinical Robin Enontekio, who also split the judges when getting the better of Dmytro Babynskyi of Ukraine.

National champion Salamat Isbulaev of the RMMAU won unanimously in the men's lightweight class against Marko Sarasjarvi of Finland, sealing a final against Bahrain's Kurban Idrisov who got the nod from all of the judges against Neimat Assadov of Kazakhstan.

Dastan Zhakypbekov of Kazakhstan fought to a unanimous verdict against Spain's Rafael Calderon Coria in the men's flyweight, with Bektur Zhenishbek Uulu winning an all-RMMAU bout in the same fashion to join him in the final.

The men's bantamweight saw Shakhban Gapizov of the RMMAU defeat Pakistan's Ismail Khan, who secured his country's maiden World Championship medal yesterday, with a first-round triangle choke.

Kazakhstan strawweight Bagdat Zhubanysh is now the only athlete in with a chance of winning a third world title in a row ©IMMAF
Kazakhstan strawweight Bagdat Zhubanysh is now the only athlete in with a chance of winning a third world title in a row ©IMMAF

He will face Sweden's Oskar Jaskari in the final, who did not fight due to Shinkarevsky's withdrawal.

In the women's atomweight, Ireland's Nadine Abbott Bissett pounded down punches to beat Vridhi Kumari of India by TKO in round three.

She will meet Finland's Jenna Horto in the final, who was not in action thanks to Markova being absent.

Giulliany Perea confirmed a finalist for Brazil on their return to the World Championships for the first time since 2014.

She submitted Poland's Paulina Wisniewska with a rear naked choke with just seconds to go in the final round.

Perea will go up against Bahrain's European Open winner Beatriz Consuli Diniz who beat Alexandra Mitina of the RMMAU by unanimous decision.

The women's lightweight final will be between Kazakhstan's Aizhan Abdykadyr and Olga Lagodnaya of the RMMAU, after they unanimously beat New Zealand's Mel Webster and Sweden's World Cup winner Yrsa Sandin respectively.

Raiane Vinuto Guimaraes of Bahrain earned a unanimous decision against Josiane Oliveira of Brazil in the women's bantamweight.

Her final opponent will be Sweden's Nina Nikolija Milosevic, who won on all the scorecards against Tatiana Postarnakova of the RMMAU.

All of defeated semi-finalists will receive bronze medals, with the senior finals taking place on Saturday (January 29).

The junior division finals are tomorrow.