IMMAF – WMMAA 2019 Asian Open Moves to Bangkok

The 2019 IMMAF- WMMAA Asian Open Championships is moving from China to Thailand, it was announced today [22 January], to be hosted by the Thai Mixed Martial Arts Federation in Bangkok. The new 2019 event dates are to be announced shortly.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“We are hugely grateful to the Thai federation for stepping in to enable the Asian Open Championships to go ahead, as the CIMMAF has continued to struggle against red-tape to progress with the event in China. We have full confidence in the experience and facilities of the Thai federation to expect a stellar Championships.

“We have regrettably been forced to postpone the dates of the event in order to allow the TMMAF time to properly plan and facilitate the Championships. We are working to hard to be able to release the new dates as soon as possible.

“We at IMMAF- WMMAA do not underestimate the inconvenience members will need to overcome to accommodate the change: As a growing federation and an unrecognised sport, we face many obstacles, but I can not overstate our gratitude to our membership for its unswerving support.”

TMMAF President ‘Plai’ Jitinat Asdamongkol said:

“We at the Thai MMA Federation are happy to welcome IMMAF – WMMA delegates and the athletes from around the Asian Continent and beyond to come and compete in the Asian Open Championship in Bangkok, Thailand – which is known as the land of smile and land of warriors. It is a great honour for us to be able to support IMMAF – WMMAA by hosting the IMMAF- WMMAA Asian Open 2019 and for our country to be a platform for MMA athletes from around the region to showcase their talent, fighting spirit and the beauty and excitement of mixed martial arts.”

WMMAA President Vadim Finkelchtein said:

“Thailand has always been know for its hospitality and I would like to join President Brown in expressing our gratitude to the Thai federation. I am confident that they have everything to comply with the high standards of IMMAF-WMMAA Championships and will host a memorable event.”

Meanwhile, athlete registration opens tomorrow for the 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA Oceania Open Championships in New Zealand.

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Ukraine Expands Referee & Judges Education Nationwide

Pictured above: Certified referee Alexandr Lunga at the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

The National MMA Federation of Ukraine continues to spread the global standard for MMA officiating, now unified under IMMAF and WMMAA.

Following the amalgamation of the International MMA Federation (IMMAF) and World MMA Association (WMMAA), the Ukrainian federation was among the affiliates of WMMAA to meet to the standards for dual recognition. Ukraine’s national regulator is now recognized under the unified world body, and for the first time hosted IMMAF’s certification course for officials last June, conducted by world renown UFC referee and IMMAF technical consultant, Marc Goddard.

The opening of certification and progression pathways for developing MMA officials is an essential avenue for breeding a high standard of unified practice among officials, worldwide. National federations globally are given the tools to establish domestic certification of referees and judges with a pathway to the international level on the IMMAF-WMMAA platform that welcomes the highest standard of program graduates, all well educated and experienced products of their own national body under IMMAF-WMMAA.

Furthermore, documented certification and tracking of experience levels among referees and judges has enabled the world’s leading professional MMA promoters to work with qualified regional officials when entering new territories, such as the UFC when in Germany last August (pictured below).

“It will work well for the world’s leading and biggest MMA organisations,” Marc Goddard explained in a 2016 interview, shortly after the launch of IMMAF’s educational program for officials. “When [promoters] go to new territories they will be able to look at the trained grad A-C officials who have completed the IMMAF course, because we want the best of the best, it’s the same in any sport. Brand new referees in football don’t suddenly referee the World Cup. There’s levels in everything: athletes, coaches, judges and referees. Experience and time served applies to each and every person in this sport.

“In its current state the IMMAF (now unified with WMMAA) is centered around amateur competition. I wrote, designed and developed the course for the IMMAF and deliver it on their behalf. It’s a two-day course with several key elements; participation and verbal reasoning, they have written and practical examinations and a judging assessment. There’s a whole multitude of things that candidates are graded on, the important thing is that those who pass aren’t just let loose on the world. It’s all about continued development and having a pathway and progression element.”

Pictured: Across national territories regional officials attend certification courses hosted by the Ukrainian Federation 

Following completion of international certification under IMMAF-WMMAA, the nation’s most experienced officials take on the responsibility of hosting further national certification courses to spread the education that they have attained, continuing the grass roots production of home grown officials.

Experienced Ukrainian referees Alexandr Lunga and Konstantin Chaban were a part of the international team of officials last November at the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Amateur MMA World Championships. Both individuals have taken on leadership of domestic certification courses across the nation of Ukraine, with a further four dates scheduled ahead of the 2019 Ukrainian National Championships. Visit mma.org.ua for more information.

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After World Championships Upset Team Sweden Coach Discusses Adapting For 2019

Pictured above: Steam Sweden’s Robin Roos, Andreas Gustafsson Berg and coach Jörgen Hamberg – via SMMAF|Photography Viking

The world’s number-one ranked nation in Amateur MMA will arguably host it’s most significant national championships in years as the Swedish MMA Federation begins preparations for its national team and a critical 2019 campaign on the international competition platform.

Taking place in the city of Vasteras on January 26-27, the SMMAF Championships will crown Sweden’s 2019 national champions and earmark gold medalists as primary picks for the renown national squad.

After producing a high volume of silver medalists between the 2014 and 2015 IMMAF World Championships, the nation secured its first international titles at the 2015 IMMAF European Open. From there, Sweden progressed to top the medal tables at all subsequent World and European championships across the next 2.5 years.

It was not until the climax of the 2018 event calendar, at the IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships last November, that Sweden and the rest of the world felt the presence of a major new force under the now unified IMMAF and WMMAA banner, as Russia triumphed and smashed World Championships medal records.

IMMAF.org spoke with Jörgen Hamberg, one of SMMAF’s decorated national team coaches, to discuss his perspective of the 2018 World Championships upset and how Team Sweden can regroup for 2019.

“We noticed that the biggest difference (at the 2018 World Championships) was the entrance of the wrestlers. Team Russia brought a team where all are great wrestlers and the game changed enormously,” coach Hamberg explained. “We had the wrestler, Andreas Gustafsson, taking silver this year (at senior middleweight). He failed only in the finals, against his shadow from Russia, Dzhamal Medzhidov. As coach I can see him dominant in wrestling against anyone else.

“Team Sweden has two reflections: one for the team and one for the sport of MMA. For the team, [Sweden] has to evolve its wrestling skills. To beat a wrestler you have to possess the wrestling tool to match and then add the rest of the MMA toolbox to combine and overcome.” 

In the IMMAF world team rankings, division rankings and pound-for-pound rankings, Swedish gold medalists ascended with their own brand of grappling prowess, showcased through past champions such as Cornelia Holm, Gabriella RingblomRostem Akman and Serdar Altas. Coach Hamberg believes that Sweden’s dynamic shifted in 2018 with more of the nation’s newest crop of domestic standouts and international representatives favoring a striker’s approach.

“We had the wrestler in Cornelia and others who were submission wrestlers and BJJ players making effective use of their skills in MMA. Sweden has been a pretty much a standup nation [in 2018] and was not fully prepared.”

For the first time in almost three years, Sweden was unable to secure a single gold medal, while junior flyweight Millie Eriksson earned silver in addition to senior standout Andreas Gustafsson, yet still a shock after Sweden had ruled supreme at the European Open just five months prior.

At the 2018 Worlds, Sweden’s athletes were eliminated by a diverse list of rival nations and skill sets, including Russia who have put the world on notice across the majority of weight divisions, bringing us to a pivotal moment in the Swedish team’s history as we are set to witness their 2019 response.

“The new era is that the Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers are superior in physics and pressure in demolishing strikers and BJJ players on the ground,” coach Hamberg added. “However, the Russians appeared less aware of dealing damage, mostly offering pressure and positioning. This is our reflection on how the sport may evolve in the long term – will Russia develop to be more active on the ground and continue to prevail, or will the other teams learn to meet the wrestlers takedown and counter with better damage ratio?

“Every team has to be better wrestlers and better at avoiding takedowns to be able to handle the fight on the preferred terms. Swedish clubs are taking this seriously and will adapt to the new challenges. We are looking forward to year 2019 with our IMMAF family.”

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IMMAF – WMMAA Position on Members and Nazism, Racism and Criminal Violence

It has been brought to the attention of IMMAF- WMMAA that some MMA competitors in a member nation have been associated with Nazi groups promoting racism and violence.

The IMMAF- WMMAA leadership hereby expresses its horror at any association between participants of the sport of MMA and Nazism, and refers Members to our Statutes and Code of Conduct which clearly enshrine IMMAF- WMMAA’s opposition to racial discrimination and to criminal violence:

“IMMAF-WMMAA and its Members reject all forms and means of discrimination against individuals, groups of people, organizations or countries of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion…” [Chapter 1 Article 3]

It is the responsibility of National Federations not to tolerate or harbour as members those who promote or perpetrate such discrimination and hatred. It is furthermore the duty of a National Federation to be vigilant in its policing of such activities among its Membership. ‘Turning a blind eye’ or tolerance of Nazi activities can be viewed as aiding or abetting, and any Member Federation acting thus in breach of IMMAF- WMMAA values risks expulsion and termination of membership.

For clear understanding of IMMAF – WMMAA Member obligations, we refer you to Chapter 9 of the Statutes which requires a Member to “promote the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) at all levels, as a means to contribute to the positive development of society”

Members must “ensure their Statutes and bylaws contain the following provisions or language supporting these positions:

“a. the Member and its representatives reject all forms and means of discrimination against individuals, groups of people, organizations or countries based on ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion or politics.”

“Members are committed to comply [‘unreservedly’] with, and ensure compliance from its representatives, officials and athletes with, these Statutes, IMMAF Bylaws, IMMAF Competition Rules, the IMMAF Code of Ethics and the IMMAF Disciplinary Code and decisions.”

Further to this, IMMAF’s CODE OF CONDUCT demands the following among its core principles for behaviour and conduct:

3.3 Zero tolerance of discrimination and harassment

We are committed to a diverse culture. There shall be no discrimination as a result of race, ethnicity, origin, skin colour, nationality, religion, age, gender, language, physical appearance, sexual orientation or political opinion, or engagement in any kind of verbal or physical harassment based on any of the above mentioned or any other criteria

3.4 Respect and Dignity

We will treat everyone with respect and protect the personal dignity, privacy and personal rights of every human being


IMMAF President Kerrith Brown

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AXS TV Unveils “Friday Night Fights” With LFA 57, Headlined By 2014 IMMAF Gold Medalist, Jose Mariscal

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

Former IMMAF gold medalist Jose Mariscal (pictured above, left) will headline the upcoming card of LFA 57 on January 18 as part of the major new “Friday Night Fights” unveiling by AXS TV.

On January 11 AXS unveiled the launch of “Friday Night Fights” for 2019, beginning on Jan.18. with a four and a half hour broadcasting slot of original MMA and pro wrestling, the former being provided by standout professional MMA organisation, Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA).

“Legacy Fighting Alliance is the number one MMA promotion in the world for cultivating talent and delivering on the promise of watching tomorrow’s champions today. In the last two years, LFA has sent over 50 fighters to the UFC and we expect to create more legendary champions inside the octagon on AXS TV in 2019.”

LFA 57 takes place in Denver, Colorado, for its first live AXS event of the year that sees undefeated featherweight prospect Youssef Zalal (6-0) taking on 2014 IMMAF gold medal winner Jose “Chepe” Mariscal (8-3) in the main event.

Before making his professional transition, Mariscal remained undefeated as an amateur MMA contender with a run that culminated in being crowned amateur world champion at the inaugural IMMAF World Amateur Championships in Las Vegas.

Competing in the men’s lightweight division, the now 26-year-old Mariscal secured gold for Team USA with four triumphs across five days in the 155lb bracket, besting standout opposition from Romania, Poland, the UK and Sweden, all via first round stoppages.

Since Mariscal featured in the pioneering first IMMAF World Championships, the premier proving ground for amateur mixed martial artists has continued its rapid evolution, with leading safety standards and enhanced competition gear such as amateur size gloves and shin guards developed by Green Hill, in addition to the ever increasing depth of global talent.

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