2018 World Championships | Headline Medical Stats

Pictured: Post- bout medical room at the Khalifa Sports City Arena for the 2018 World MM Championships

The recent 2018 IMMAF – WMMAA World Championships and Junior World Championships in Bahrain from 12 to 17 November saw 334 matches take place over 5 days.

Today the unified governing body published a breakdown of injuries data taken from tournament medical records. This is important not only for the evaluation of how safe the sport is at any one time, but also for guiding changes in protocol to improve safety and minimise. The statistics are not in any way alarming for a contact sport, with the most common being expected abrasions, bruises and lacerations and soft tissue injuries, countering uninformed allegations that MMA is unsafe compared with similar recognised sports.

In the summary below, injuries have been classified by type and (conservatively) as follows:

SLIGHT | Soft tissue damage without any evidence of fracture or brain injury. This category includes abrasions, bruises and lacerations. Also included is any complaint of pain as well as all Technical Knock-Out (TKO)  stoppages involving head strikes where no specific injury was identified. It is IMMAF policy to issue an automatic suspension to any competitor who has lost a match via TKO (head strikes), regardless of whether the competitor has been diagnosed with concussion by the post-bout doctor.<

MEDIUM | Includes concussions and even suspected concussions, which by definition are functional injuries without any evidence of structural damage of the brain such as bleeding. This category also includes fractures not requiring surgical intervention and substantial lacerations.

SEVERE | Severe facial injuries such as fractures requiring surgical treatment as well as any brain injury with a structural cause such as bleeding. Also included in this category are concussions with profound symptoms such as extended loss of consciousness.


Medical lead Dr Aljulanda (left) onsite at World Championships


Total number of post fight medical examinations | 668
Number of severe injuries | 0 
Number of medium injuries | 11*
Number of slight injuries | 166

Number of severe injuries per hundred bouts | 0
Number of medium injuries per 100 bouts | 3.3*
Number of slight injuries per 100 bouts | 49.7

*Medium injuries consisted of:
– 2 x orbital medial wall fractures
– 2 x nasal fracture
– 1 x suspected mandibular/molar fracture
– 1 x AC joint dislocation
– 1 x meniscus injury
– 4 x hand or thumb fractures


This data represents an overall 10.2% reduction in injuries per 100 bouts (against the 592 bouts across the last 4 major tournaments). Aside from there being NO severe injuries, the greatest reduction (21.4%) was seen in injuries classified as ‘medium’, with the reduction in injuries recorded as ‘slight’ being 10.2%.


Suspensions include mandatory suspensions for KO and TKO losses (with head strikes) where no concussion or injury as been diagnosed, as part of IMMAF – WMMAA protocol:

Total number of medical suspensions issued | 90

Number of medical suspensions requiring a doctor’s clearance before return to competition |  14

Average suspension period (total suspension days/ no. of injuries resulting in a medical suspension *excluding suspensions requiring a doctor’s clearance) [3002/163] | 18.4 days

Percentage of injuries resulting in an suspension requiring a doctor’s clearance to return to full contact [14/177]  | 7.9%


Of the 64 KO/ TKO finishes recorded by the medical team, 14 were sent for CT scans (all normal), and of the 50 remaining athletes, 45 were subject to serial neurological observations and/or a SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) tests.

One athlete refused a head CT as advised, and has been indefinitely suspended pending neurological clearance, and for a minimum of 60 days in any event.

Total number of head CT scans |  17

Total number of X-rays and non head CT scans | 15


View IMMAF’s list of medically clear and suspended athlete’s here, as administrated by independent medical organisation, Safe MMA 

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Delyan Georgiev, Bulgaria’s World Champion Takes Over Pound-For-Pound Rankings

Senior men’s featherweight world champion Delyan Georgiev took over as leader of the IMMAF pound-for-pound rankings after successfully retaining his crown at the 2018 Amateur MMA World Championships.

The historic IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships took place from 11-18 November in Manama, Bahrain, with finals taking place on November 17.

Having also won the IMMAF world title in 2017, the undefeated Team Bulgaria athlete became just the fifth competitor to retain a gold medal. Earlier that day, New Zealand’s Gase Sanita became the fourth athlete to do so, successfully retaining her title in the women’s lightweight division. Georgiev subsequently takes lead as the World’s top ranked senior competitor.

“This is the biggest award for me and I wouldn’t even have dreamed of it,” Georgiev commented. “I feel like I deserve it and I’m thankful to the Bulgarian MMA Federation and our president Stanislav Nedkov for everything he does for us, and that I have the chance to participate in big events and to achieve my goals.”

15-0 on the IMMAF platform alone, 26-0 overall, the 25-year-old Georgiev first secured the European Open title on home soil when the second largest event on the IMMAF calendar took place in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, in 2017. Later that year, he represented Bulgaria at the IMMAF World Championships, advancing to the finals where he edged a split decision over Finland’s Joel Arolainen.

In the space of a year, the featherweight European and World champion had bested standout amateurs from nations across the globe, including Finland, the USA, UK, Canada and Ireland.

Georgiev returned this year to defend the world title, at the biggest and most competitive World Championships to date with over 350 athletes in attendance and a 32-man featherweight bracket. Georgiev opened his 2018 campaign with a first round TKO over the UK’s Callum McVay before securing a Day 2 unanimous decision win over Finland’s experienced Eemil Kurhela.

The further evolution of Georgiev’s talent was evident, impactful on his feet and with solid wrestling. In the quarter-finals, he saw through another unanimous decision over Omaraskhab Yusupov of Russia, no easy task against the nation who went on to conquer a record breaking five divisions with a total of eight senior finalists.

Now in the semi-finals, Georgiev was about to encounter the two greatest tests of his amateur tenure. First, Spanish revelation Enrique Hecher Sosa, who had cruised through back-to-back unanimous decisions over Alvin Miller (USA), Kohei Maeda (Japan), plus the previously undefeated Tim Ha (Czech Republic). After an intense contest between two top level amateurs, Georgiev secured a split-decision over the Spanish hopeful.

In the senior featherweight final, Georgiev faced off against Germany’s Eduard Kexel in what was the most eagerly anticipated collision of Finals Day. The duo went back and forth in a grueling encounter, battling the very best of one another as they traded technical striking exchanges, counter shots, takedowns and sprawls.

Both Georgiev and Kexel donned gold competition gear as reigning title holders of respective championships within the past year. Georgiev, the current world champion, and Kexel, the junior European champion who entered the senior ranks just days removed from his 21st birthday.

The near even bout was on a knife edge, but with Georgiev’s aggression outlasting Kexel in the later stages, the deciding factor may well have been the astonishing cardio of Georgiev that saw him power through all three rounds one last time, on the fifth day of competition. After one of the great world championship deciders, Georgiev won the gold medal via a split-decision thriller.

The gold medal triumph propelled Georgiev to the summit of the world amateur rankings. He is the fourth athlete and first Bulgarian to achieve the rank, lineally occupied from 2015 to the current day by Brendan Allen (USA), Gabriella Ringblom (Sweden), Cornelia Holm (Sweden) and Irman Smajic (Sweden).

The former European champion missed out on the chance to defend the continental title in 2018, due to the search for a new coach. “This was very emotional to me,” he revealed, “and I had the need to arrange my thoughts.”

For now, his ambition remains within the that of top flight Amateur MMA with a priority of returning to the European Open, taking pace 16-22 June in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Georgiev plans for the 2019 Euros to serve as his final conquest before turning his attention to a professional career.     

“I’m planning to participate for second time in the IMMAF European Championships. Another dream of mine is one more European title and to make my game better. I feel more and more ready to go pro. I’m planning to fight in Brave in 2019, during the next World Championships Combat Week.”

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Colombia & Mexico Embrace MMA Coaching Seminars; Sport Development Spreads Across Latin America

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, visited both Colombia and Mexico in recent months as Latin American nations continue to embrace grass roots development and regulation within the sport of MMA.

Mr. Moshanov was hosted by the Colombian MMA Association (OCAMM) and Mexican MMA Federation (FAMM), both government certified bodies enthusiastic to begin implementation of a unified progression system between coaches and students.

With experience taken from ties to national government and sport authorities, MMA stakeholders have learnt of and embraced the necessities for building a regulated sport that begins with the recreational and amateur level.

“I think that the continuous interest towards coaches’ education reflects the natural desire to excel and succeed,” Mr. Moshanov commented. Established MMA coaches came together under the banner of their national federation and umbrella body, IMMAF, to discuss the MMA Pathway and Development System for participants and the introduction of a recognised, graded coaching syllabus of stage-to-stage techniques from recreational beginner, upwards.

“FAMM and OCAMM are already recognised by sport authorities,” Mr. Moshanov added, “and yet continue their endorsement of the IMMAF Coaches Education Program. This proves their commitment to the long term development of the sport. Mexico’s FAMM has recently signed the cooperation agreement with the National College of Education and will be working towards inclusion of the IMMAF qualification to the National Qualification framework. Colombia’s OCAMM is partnered with SENA, the National Learning service and Education Agency.”

The IMMAF progression Syllabus is primarily a driver aimed at recreational participants in MMA, adapting a formula and ethos that is proven across martial arts to encourage, monitor and sustain safe sport and participation numbers within a global unified network. While MMA is widely credited as “the world’s fastest growing sport,” the current fitness trend in Central and South America is something that MMA has capitalised on, through the marketing of purely recreational involvement.

The coming together of two worlds, that of general fitness and martial arts, have inspired the development of activities such as ‘CrossFighter’ in MMA clubs under OCAMM, a spin on the highly popular ‘CrossFit’. Similar recreational opportunities within the continent open the pathway to further training and eventually competing at a later stage. The end product of which was most recently highlighted in Mexico where over 1000 athletes competed in the FAMM National Amateur Championships.

“South America is experiencing a real boom in the fitness industry. ‘To be fit’ is a trend at the moment. Governments are subsidising such ventures and many MMA clubs are linked to the fitness clubs. South and Central America is enjoying close proximity to the USA and as a result they are feeling the benefits of links to the UFC, the main venture in the MMA industry.”

Internationally renowned referee Marc Goddard was also hosted recently by OCAMM, delivering the globally established IMMAF progression seminar for officials.

Mr. Moshanov summarised, “FAMM and OCAMM have set a great example for the rest of the world. The IMMAF courses have worked as a bonding mechanism which reinforced the national coaching pyramid.” IMMAF’s Director of Development believes that a credible template has been set within Colombia and Mexico, of which the World can follow, with other South American IMMAF members such as Chile already networking with their continental counterparts to discuss the replication of success.

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IMMAF – WMMAA to Launch MMA Cadet & Pre-Junior Rules for 12 – 17 Year Olds

Pictured: Youths practising MMA in Northern Ireland

– 3 – 4 AUGUST, ROME

Unified world MMA governing body, IMMAF – WMMAA is proud to announce the completion and forthcoming publication of its of Pre-Junior and Cadet MMA Rules for 12 – 17 year olds. The announcement comes ahead of the 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA Cadet World Championships set for 3-4 August in Rome, hosted by the Italian Grappling and Mixed Martial Arts Federation (FIGMMA).

Headed by IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, the completion of tailored rulesets for youth and cadet athletes has been over a year in the making. The project has drawn on expert consultancy from Marc Goddard, IMMAF’s Head of Regulatory Affairs, and across IMMAF- WMMAA’s global membership. Key contributors have been representatives from national federations under whom successful, safe and regulated youth competition or training programmes have already been implemented, including USA, India, Mexico, Italy and Northern Ireland.

Mr. Moshanov stated:

“The rules for cadets have been under discussion for more than a year. We received notable help from FIGMMA’s Vito Paolillo (Italy) and Danny Corr of the Ulster Amateur MMA Association (Northern Ireland), as well as the IMMAF-WMMAA Medical Committee who advised on safety considerations.”

The IMMAF-WMMAA Medical Committee is a panel of doctors with a specialism or experience in medical care within MMA. The committee is responsible for providing guidance on medical safety within the sport and for developing medical protocol for IMMAF-WMMAA competitions. Members are Dr. Randa Bashron (USA), Dr. David Wang (USA) and Prof. Dan Healy (Ireland).

For the youth competitions, athletes will be divided by age brackets, 12-13 (Pre-Cadet), 14-15 (Cadet) and 16-17 (Pre-Junior), permitting for appropriate adaptation of the Unified Amateur MMA Rules with respect to neurological and musculo-skeletal developmental. Significantly head-shots will not be permitted in any under-18s competition, while permissions around the application of submission techniques shall increase up through the age brackets. Matches will be scored according to the 10-point system that is so fundamental to the spirit of the sport. However, modifications will apply, such as ‘proactivity’ being rewarded instead of ‘aggression’.

Mr. Moshanov continued:

“The involvement of children of a young age and their membership in clubs and associations is vital for the sustainability and development of any sport. On an average, nearly 80 % of sports members worldwide are children under 14 years old. When one looks closely at MMA, youth development has been under-developed in favour of that of competitive athletes and this matter needs to be urgently addressed.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown added:

“It is a fact that young people now have a presence in MMA gyms across the world and it is the duty of the world governing body to provide governance in order to safe-guard and to offer the best education possible. Youth competition not only forms a foundational role in the development of sports talent, but also provides a platform for nurturing skill through the application of technical learning. It is equally where a sport can deliver the widest social, community and health benefits, and therefore value.”

WMMAA President Vadim Finkelchtein said:

“As an international federation we have always understood the importance of developing MMA among youth but we also knew that this requires additional research on the safety and medical side, as well as on the rules. WMMAA held its first international event for youth (16-17 years old) back in 2017 and now we are proud that IMMAF-WMMAA is ready to start working with younger competitors starting from 12 years old.  They are the future of our sport.”

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IMMAF Junior National Team Rankings: 2018 Review

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

With ranking points acquired from the 2018 European Open and World Junior Championships, the inaugural year of unified junior competition (athletes age 18-20) under IMMAF and WMMAA concludes.

*Due to ongoing technical updates, individual division lists are pending while team rankings and pound-for-pound rankings are available for Senior and Junior competitors, respectively.

Click HERE for senior team rankings review


With 5 golds, 2 silver and 1 bronze, the late debut of Russia’s recalibrated squad at the World Championships was more than enough to top the junior team rankings with a substantial lead, setting the bar high for 2019. In the pound-for-pound standings, men’s featherweight champion Elbek Alyshov sits in second place.

While Russia leads significantly, the Republic of Ireland stands as the next most successful team of the year, continuing the momentum of topping the Junior European Open table with a massive tally of 2 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze, to place third at the Junior Worlds with 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze. After claiming the European Open title and World Championships silver, Irish heavyweight Trevor Makengo takes lead in the junior pound-for-pound rankings.

UK (3)
Representing Team England under the UKMMAF banner, Megan Morris and Muhammed Mokaev took the nation all the way to a pair of gold medals to place second in the medal table. Accompanied by the UK’s European Open triumphs (gold medalist Roan Crocker now set to represent the independent Team Wales), the UK sits third in the rankings as one of the world’s top three junior talent developers.

Germany’s incredible 2018 was defined by the nation’s breakthrough medal haul at the European Open, and continued into the Worlds at both the junior and senior level. Men’s featherweight Eduard Kexel cruised to the European Open title before sensationally progressing to take the senior silver medal at the World Championships, adding to the team’s accolades alongside senior gold medalist Julia Dorny. Meanwhile, European Open gold medalist Anna Gaul secured World Championships bronze in the junior women’s flyweight division.


Producing three silver medalists between the European Open and World Championships, committed and fast growing youth development has seen Bahrain spread its mission for success to the junior ranks where the nation clinches a top five position ahead of Kazakhstan, whose national talent pool continues to produce sizeable national squads of consistent, high level talent.

The Czech Republic made its junior competition debut at the World Championships with the second largest junior squad, producing 2 silver medalists at lightweight and light-heavyweight. This was enough to hold the number-7 spot ahead of India who snatched a historic first world title through the knockout triumph of men’s strawweight champion Mahboob Khan Mohammed.

Canada also enters the top 10 after the warhorse efforts of welterweight Jett Grande to claim a first junior world title for his nation. Poland clinches the final top 10 position with the European Open men’s featherweight crown secured by Eryk Walecki. Poland just holds out the up and coming Team Japan (11), as the spiritual home of MMA begins to show promising signs through its own rejuvenated national squad.

Click below for current Senior and Junior National Team Rankings and Pound-for-Pound Rankings.

IMMAF Senior Team Rankings Nov.18
IMMAF Junior Team Rankings Nov.18

IMMAF Senior Rankings Nov.18
IMMAF Junior Rankings Nov.18

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