More Than Gold: The story behind the U.S. Youth Worlds win

Nations that competed at the inaugural IMMAF-WMMAA Youth MMA World Championships made history last month. With Team USA taking first place in the medal table, exemplified by the nation’s unbeaten female talent, Dane McGuire (IMMAF.org U.S. Correspondent) looks back on the nation’s accomplishments with some of the figureheads that made it happen.

The United States Fight League (USFL,) youth affiliate of the national team, was founded in 2002. Originating as a series of open mat events held on military bases, the focus eventually shifted to the development of youth as athletes and upstanding people.

The mainstream popularity boom of modern MMA and the UFC was still a few years away, and so, getting youth involved in a misunderstood sport brought its share of controversy.

USFL President Jon Frank told ESPN.com in 2012, “When we first started [about a decade ago], people were saying we needed to be put in jail and the parents needed to be prosecuted for child abuse. But I feel we’ve come a long way.”

Eight years have passed and the above statement still rings true. Despite falling short of fundraising goals, the USFL brought 34 competitors to the first IMMAF Youth Worlds and were the largest team to compete. They won 28 medals overall, 16 of them gold.

Frank told IMMAF.org, “We set the bar high and it’s going to be difficult to repeat this level of success unless we continue to forge forward. Our kids and coaches must treat this world championships as the end of their season and understand that only the same process of hard training with rigorous competition will get similar results in the future.”

While all did well, highlights of the event were overall sportsmanship and the success of female athletes in a male-dominated sport. Lea Bivins (main image, right) voluntarily took a silver medal rather than fight her teammate Shaniyah Carlson (main image, left) in the finals of their Youth A (age 16-17) strawweight bracket.

USFL East founder and promoter Ruben Saldaña said, “The USA youth females, without‌ ‌doubt, set the example for the entire world by going undefeated with 13 wins all by submission. The next day our only female [USFL East] competitor, Alana Delva became the first athlete to win gold in two different divisions.”

Two-weight youth world champion, Alana Delva (youth C)

Delva, who competed in the -125lbs and +125lbs Youth C (age 12-13) divisions, took up the sport after experiencing bullying. Cementing her place in history as the first IMMAF-WMMAA youth ‘champ-champ’ gives her a global platform to spread a message of empowerment.

Delva said, “I think that in Rome we [girls] showed not just our opponents that we are capable of more than just dancing and cooking. Not all of us were made or born to be beauty icons. Some of us were born to be killer butterflies.”

For Saldaña, the character displayed by his athletes in victory validates not only his coaching methods but his own experiences and mentoring efforts. He left behind a criminal past after 19 years in prison and finding faith in God.

Jon Frank, a former Marine and law enforcement veteran, brought on the former gang leader because of that background. Saldaña uses martial arts to reach those in Miami, Florida who might be making mistakes he once did.

Saldaña said post-event, “The magnitude of this show will encourage so many other youths who didn’t have a chance to showcase their talent and deserve to more of a reason to develop their character, stay out of crime and keep competing to qualify for the 2020 World Championship.”

Before training comes spiritual enrichment. This is followed by training outside in the absence of a home gym. He finishes with character development which emphasizes respect and responsibility. This approach has now created champions in more ways than one.

“Fighting helped me find joy, happiness, friends, but most importantly it helped me love myself the way I am,” Delva said. “Now I fight for me and to show those who are like me that we don’t have to be shy. We don’t have to hide or be afraid to be different.”

Dane McGuire, IMMAF.org U.S. Correspondent

Russian Union Men’s International MMA Cup to Stream Live on IMMAF.TV

·        KHANTY-MANSIYSK, RUSSIA,  16 – 21 SEPTEMBER

·        16 TOP WORLD-RANKED ATHLETES IN 10 WEIGHT CATEGORIES

·        $2000 USD PRIZE MONEY FOR GOLD, $1000 FOR SILVER AND $500 FOR BRONZE MEDALLISTS

WATCH PREVIOUS RUSSIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS HIGHLIGHTS NOW FOR FREE AT IMMAF.TV

The Russian MMA Union Men’s International MMA Cup will be broadcast live from Khanty – Mansiysk at IMMAF.TV from 16 – 21 September.

Nations are starting to sign up for the prize money tournament in preparation for November’s crowing IMMAF | WMMAA World Championships, which provides the opportunity to gain valuable competition experience inside one of world’s greatest talent hotbeds for MMA. Russia currently ranks #2 in the World Amateur MMA Rankings.

$40,000 USD will be divided among the winners, the five-day tournament for senior males (18+) across 10 weight divisions spanning Strawweight to Super Heavyweight, and presents the opportunity for all gold, silver and bronze medallists to win $2000 (Gold), $1000 (Silver) and $500 (Bronze), respectively. 

The competition will take place under IMMAF Amateur MMA Rules and Regulations.

Russian MMA Union Chairman, Fedor Emelianenko, said:

“As of 2019 over 60.000 athletes practice Mixed Martial Arts on amateur level. Only chosen few are able to make it to the National Team and represent Russia at IMMAF-WMMAA championships, which is why we decided to upgrade the status of our domestic event to an international one. Any foreign amateur athlete is welcome to come, here he will be able to gain valuable experience without having to face the best of the best. We promise to show our hospitality of the highest degree.

“Khanty-Mansiysk is one of the sports capitals of Russia. As part of the sports development over 300 various sports events are held there on an annual basis. Our upcoming event is undoubtedly one of the major events among them.

“UgraMegaSport and Russian MMA Union are ready to hold International MMA Cup on the highest level possible. We will show the true spirit of Mixed Martial Arts that develops not only in Moscow but in every corner of our country.”

The Russian MMA Union Men’s International MMA Cup tournament will be broadcast live internationally on IMMAF TV and other platforms.

Amateurs interested in competing should contact their IMMAF – WMMAA affiliated National MMA federation for further information about how to apply

All international enquiries to mikhail.mazur@gmail.com


Malaysian Amateur MMA Star Colleen Augustin Sets Sights on 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships

21-year-old prodigy Colleen Augustin has set her sights on the 2019 Amateur MMA World Championships, following her gold medal winning showcase for the Malaysian national team at the Asian Open in May.

The 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA World Championships and concurrent Junior World Championships are set to take place from 11-16 November in Manama, Bahrain.

In a televised interview alongside Malaysian MMA Association president, Rashid Salleh, the emerging amateur star discussed the experience of competing on IMMAF’s international platform and gaining her latest victories at this year’s Asian Open in Bangkok where she bagged a pair of highlight TKO victories, putting her durability and adaptive, rounded talents on display against proven opposition to grab the gold medal in the women’s strawweight (115lbs) division.

In the Asian Open final Augustin overcame the troubling precision hands of Kazakh standout Nurzhamal Sadykova, to secure the Thai clinch (pictured above) and deliver an abundance of knees to the body before stopping her rival via TKO with strikes on the ground.

“It was amazing to be there,” she recalled, “to be part of something so grand and to be able to see other countries and so many MMA athletes around the world participating.”

“I’ll be going to Bahrain in November for the IMMAF – WMMAA World Championships, representing Malaysia. Of course, the goal is the same: to go there and become a world champion,” she expressed with confidence. Watch the full interview below.

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

IMMAF Judges Certification Seminar Comes to The UK in September

The IMMAF International Judging Seminar & Certification Course comes to London on September 15, taking place the Sydenham Prep School.

Attendees of all levels are invited to join Marc Goddard for the official IMMAF seminar for judges seeking certification and progression under the world governing body. Learn the official judging criteria, utilizing the 10 point must correctly, breaking down misconceptions, scoring breakdowns, technique review, practical assessment and scoring evaluation. Successful candidates will be awarded and registered with an international IMMAF certificate of competency.

The International Judging Seminar & Certification Course also heads to Rumble Sports in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 29.

Spaces are limited. Applicants are able to sign up and register via MyNextMatch.com or contact Goddard@immaf.org for more information.

World Championships at Brave Combat Week Returns to Bahrain this November

·        SENIOR & JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS

·        MANAMA, 11 – 16 NOVEMBER 2019

·        5 DAYS OF ELITE AMATEUR MMA ACTION

·        WATCH LIVE ON IMMAF.TV

The IMMAF | WMMAA World Amateur MMA Championships return to Manama this November from 11 to 16, as part of BRAVE International Combat Week, for the third year running.

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s 2019 Senior and Junior World Championship tournaments will take place at Khalifa Sport City over five days, hosted by the Bahrain Mixed Martial Arts Federation under the Bahrain Olympic Committee. Commencing on Sunday 10 November with the Tournament Draw and Opening Ceremony, the competitions will play out from Monday 11 to Thursday 14 with the Finals on Saturday 16. Bahraini promotion BRAVE will host a professional MMA night on Friday 15 at the same arena.

Last year’s world championships featured 285 athletes from 51 competing nations, and the unification of international governing bodies WMMAA and IMMAF saw a shake-up of the World Amateur MMA Rankings as Team Russia ascended to top nation. Continued growth and global expansion by IMMAF through 2019 foretells record-breaking numbers at this year’s crown event.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“I would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Khalifa, who as Youth and Sports Minister and national Olympic Committee President in Bahrain, has been the driving force behind the development of MMA in the region. We look forward to working again with the Bahrain MMA Federation and BRAVE to deliver another incomparable World Championship event for our athletes. Bahrain has exceeded expectations for two years running, and I urge MMA amateurs to apply for the opportunity to participate in this extraordinary, world-class, sporting experience.”

MMA amateurs wishing to participate should contact their national IMMAF or WMMAA affiliated national federation for information.