Educational Video: MMA in Context – The Ground Game

The International MMA Federation (IMMAF) has released its latest educational video: MMA in Context.

As an educational tool for Mixed Martial Arts, the feature has been produced with a layman audience in mind and aims to correct misconceptions, misinformation and prejudices surrounding use of the caged competition area and aspects of the sport’s ground game: working from the bottom position, stoppages and referee presence, etc.

World renown MMA referee, IMMAF committee member and regulatory affairs consultant, Marc Goddard, guides viewers through key factors of amateur MMA competition under the IMMAF banner:

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On 10 April, the International MMA Federation (IMMAF) and the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) announced an amalgamation for the global unification of the sport of MMA. Crucially this step is of key significance to MMA’s bid for sport recognition within the Olympic sport movement.

Today WMMAA and IMMAF have reached out to their collective membership, to officially notify national federations of their recognition status under the new structure. In countries where two federations exist, IMMAF/ WMMAA will be inviting the organisations to collaborate, and where one is recognised by its Ministry of Sport or NOC, for the other to be absorbed into that federation. The respective strengths of national federations have been assessed according to IMMAF/ WMMAA membership targets, which follows the membership criteria set at an international level by the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF). See below.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown welcomed the opportunity for the modernisation of the collective membership:

“The amalgamation provides a catalyst for the modernization and strengthening of our membership, which in turn will accelerate sport development and increase services to MMA participants worldwide. In facilitating the unification of two organisations in some territories, we aim to bring the strengths and successes of each to the table and help them to negotiate a complementary working structure under one banner. For example, we have noticed that while one national federation might focus on professional event sanctioning, its former ‘rival’ may have achieved commendably in youth development projects. Clearly, these two activities are not mutually exclusive. The amalgamation has also instigated a fresh review of our membership,  to what extent they meet international governance criteria and in which areas we need to support them.”

The Romanian Kempo MMA Federation, who will be hosting the 2018 IMMAF European Championships next month, embodies an early success story of a merger between IMMAF and WMMAA members. Very positive initial conversations have been reported between other members too, with a combined French ‘super team’ already reported as planning to participate in the IMMAF European Championships.

WMMAA President, Vadim Finkelchtein, expressed his faith in the ultimate success of national level unifications:

“The WMMAA and IMMAF amalgamation leads to creation of one united world organisation with the number of its members coming close to a hundred. A huge amount of work has been done to unitе the federations on a national level and speed up the movement towards GAISF and consequently Olympic Committee recognition. We expect that each federation – be it an IMMAF or WMMAA member –  is willing to find common ground with their past rivals for the sake of MMA. We’ve achieved so much in the past, much more is yet to be done and I have no doubts we will get there together.”

First international opportunities for the WMMAA and IMMAF communities to come together will be through invitations to WMMAA members to participate in IMMAF continental championships and courses, in the run up to a joint 2018 World Championships of Amateur MMA in Bahrain in November. Participation will see WMMAA athletes enter the IMMAF World Amateur MMA Rankings.

A letter issued yesterday invited “IMMAF and WMMAA communities” to come together in “friendly competition and in the shared spirit of good sportsmanship”.

IMMAF/ WMMAA National Federation Membership Targets

National Federation Membership Criteria can be divided in 3 Categories:

  • Organisational (Main/Others)
  • National Representation/Universality
  • Sporting

Organisational Criteria (Main):

  • Federation is recognized by its Sports Ministry (/ Government) as the national governing body for MMA
  • OR Federation is recognised by its National Olympic Committee as the national governing body for MMA
  • OR Federation is the sole national governing body for MMA

Organisational Criteria (Others):

  • Not-for-Profit
  • Democratic
  • Board and committee structure
  • Anti-Doping: Compliance of regulations with the World Anti-Doping Code
  • Gender Representation: Organisational Chart and importance of women representation in elected Body
  • History: General Assemblies held
  • Accounting: Audited Financial Statement (Income/Expenses report)
  • Strategic Plan: Mid-term/Long term

National Representation/Universality:

  • National membership numbers (clubs/ participants)
  • National membership reach (regions/ geographic spread)
  • Participation in international MMA championships


  • Hosting of National Competitions: Fairness/ Attractiveness/ Non-Discrimination, Fair Play, Solidarity
  • Sports Achievements: Athletes/ Coaches/ Anti-Doping/Medical/ Administration/ Communication & Marketing
  • Education and progression
  • Community



WMMAA Athletes Invited to IMMAF European Championships

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown has extended a historic invitation to World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) athletes to compete in two upcoming IMMAF European Championship tournaments in Romania, from 17 to 23 June:

2018 IMMAF Senior European Championships
(18s+, European nationals only)

2018 IMMAF Junior European Open Championships
(18s – 20s; U21s, all nationalities)

The President’s invitation states:


WMMAA participants will compete under the same national flag and as part of existing IMMAF  teams from their country in super teams. So for example, WMMAA participants from France are looking to compete for France alongside CFMMA participants. New countries may also have the opportunity to showcase on the IMMAF platform where no current IMMAF member exists.

The entry deadline for the tournament has been extended to allow WMMAA members the opportunity to take up remaining spaces in the brackets and on the national team. There remains a limit of two participants per weight class per country, so if a national team already has two lightweights competing, then there will be no room for a further WMMAA lightweight of that nation

The joint ranking points will be attributed by nation in the IMMAF World Amateur MMA Team Rankings, and WMMAA athletes will show for the first time in the individual rankings.

For WMMAA members who express interest in entering the European Championships, IMMAF and WMMAA will facilitate this process. IMMAF national federations do not need to do anything unless contacted by IMMAF.

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Hamza Zrira completes quartet of champions back for the 2018 IMMAF Africa Open

The 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships take place in South Africa this month, 24-26 May, returning to Johannesburg at the Brakpan Sports Centre.

This year marks the biggest edition of the Africa Open to date, with increased participation among African nations and international competitors from beyond the continent including Australia, Bahrain and the USA.

Among the lineup of competing athletes, four of last year’s Africa Open gold medal winners will return to defend their titles, including Bahrain’s Abdulmanap Magomedov (Featherweight) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Eliezer Kubanza (Welterweight), plus 2017 Lightweight champion, South Africa’s Nkosi Ndebele, who will contest for the Featherweight title in 2018.

Bahrain’s Hamza Zrira completes the quartet of defending gold medalists as he returns in hope of becoming a two-time Africa Open champion in the Bantamweight division. At 24-years-old, Zrira is a product of his country’s athlete development program for MMA, through Bahrain’s own international stable and training facility, KHK MMA, and the Bahrain MMA Federation.

Zrira first showed promise on the IMMAF platform in 2016, making it to the quarter-finals of the European Open in Prague. Making his international debut, Zrira bested Ukraine athlete Roman Kolotvin with a unanimous decision from the judges before falling short on the scorecards against Rostislav Raichev, who represented the surging Bulgarian national team. Raichev progressed to earn the bronze medal, but Zrira took it all the way to split-decision.

After picking up a win on home soil in January of 2017, Zrira’s next championship outing was the IMMAF Africa Open last September. Zrira triumphed over home nation athletes from South Africa in both the final and semi-final bouts.

Following another unanimous decision over Shaun Joubert, he saved the best for last in the gold medal decider, securing a Triangle Choke that forced Katiso Matime to submit in the opening round, in under three minutes.

At the 2017 IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain, Zrira lost out on the scorecards in a testing bout with Dinislam Jetpissov, of team Kazakhstan, the nation who dominated the early stages of the competition. Video below.

Zrira kicks off his 2018 IMMAF campaign ranked 4th in the IMMAF Men’s bantamweight world rankings. A bronze medal of higher in Johannesburg would see him comfortably advance into the top-3 ahead of the 2018 European Championships in June.

For more Africa Open event and team information visit

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Pictured: 2017 European Open, Light-Heavyweight medallists – Gold: Anton Turkalj (Sweden), Silver: Kubaibergen Toleubayev (Kazakhstan), Bronze: Pawel  Zakrzewski (Poland), Bronze: Imad Hoayek (Lebanon).

Since the event’s inception in 2014, the annual IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA have achieved continuous growth.

In 2017, the IMMAF World Championships saw record participation numbers with 248 athletes in action from across 48 national federations. The 45% increase in competing nations following 2016 generated a 18% increase in individual athlete participation.

The IMMAF World Championships return to Bahrain in 2018, taking place from 11-18 November at the Khalifa Sport City Arena, in the capital city of Manama.

Once again, IMMAF anticipates further growth of the event, however, following the amalgamation of the International MMA Federation (IMMAF) and the World MMA Association (WMMAA), the total number of competing athletes could rise to anywhere from 350-500, a significant factor being that the WMMAA will not be hosting its own 2018 championships.

Due to the natural growth of IMMAF now combined with the sudden influx of unification with WMMAA, tournament registration is expected to be in high demand. IMMAF currently affords a window of priority registration to the top 32 ranked nations with each weight bracket of the World Championships holding a maximum of 32 competitors.

Because of this, IMMAF’s continental events circuit: The European Championships, Africa Open, Asian Open and Oceania Open, are now more influential than ever before due to the ranking points that are up for grabs at each contest.

54 of IMMAF’s member nations are currently listed in the international team rankings. Nations below the number-32 position find themselves at risk of losing tournaments placements, should the priority window be as prominent as anticipated.

ranking point immaf17 nations who competed at the 2017 World Championships are ranked below the priority cut-off point. However, a number of those currently below no.32 (Estonia) will be set to climb to higher positions in the coming months with the European Championships being contested in June, plus the Africa Open later this month and the Asian Open Championships taking place in September as the final opportunity to acquire valuable ranking points.

IMMAF rankings are updated following the completion of each international championship event. Visit for more information on international rankings.