IMMAF Standouts Set For Irish Supershow At Bellator 217

 By lead writer, Jorden Curran

Some of Irish MMA’s most impressive amateur veterans will be in action on the highly anticipated card of Bellator 217, taking place in Dublin on February 23 and showcasing a vast crop of the nation’s best home grown talent.

Among the wave of Irish standouts to have joined the Bellator organisation back in 2018, and who are now set for the Feb. 23. fight night, Northern Ireland’s Leah McCourt features as the event’s most decorated amateur veteran and will take on her third professional outing against Hatice Özyurt of the Netherlands.

At the international level McCourt took the women’s amateur MMA ranks by storm, first winning the 2015 IMMAF European Open tournament title at lightweight before entering as a featherweight for the 2016 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas where she also secured the gold medal and made history as the first athlete to win gold in two weight divisions.

McCourt’s professional debut in 2017 saw her taste defeat against Olympic Judo veteran Rizlen Zouak, before bouncing back in June of 2018 with a stylish effort to edge victory in a superfight of Amateur MMA champions, taking a split decision win over France’s Manon Fiorot – the 2017 IMMAF bantamweight gold medalist.

Sinead Kavanagh earned a silver medal for the Republic of Ireland in the featherweight bracket of the 2015 IMMAF Worlds. After a semi-final KO strike put away the USA’s Lindsey Lawrence, defeat in the final to Canada’s Jamie Herrington was overturned to a no-contest, due to Herringon failing a post-bout doping exam, testing positive for amphetamine.

Upon turning pro Kavanagh’s popularity has increased, beginning with a 2015 ‘KO of the Year’ stoppage under UK based promotion BAMMA, before later moving to Bellator where her repetition has grown with displays of courageous determination and grit, warranting her place on the Bellator 217 main card where she meets undefeated Israeli Olga Rubin.

2015 IMMAF World Championships veteran James Gallagher features in the headline slot of Bellator 217, taking on the USA’s Steven Graham. The full potential of Gallagher as an amateur prospect was never fully seen, as after his first two years of amateur experience, he entered the 2015 IMMAF Worlds at age 18, but was forced to withdraw due to injury after submitting USA man Sam Agushi. Turning pro shortly after, the SBG Ireland product was earmarked as an Irish prodigy by Bellator and was recruited in 2016. He now boasts a 7-1 pro record.

Bellator 217 also plays host to the progressing pro careers of Kiefer Crosbie (2015 IMMAF European Open veteran) and Sam Slater (2015 IMMAF European Open and 2017 World Championships veteran).

Team Ryano’s Paul Redmond, former UFC contender, is also back in action with Bellator. Redmond has been a part of the Republic of Ireland’s amateur success in recent years, serving as a coach with the Irish MMA Association (IMMAA) national team at numerous championship events.

Bellator 217 takes place on 23 Feb. at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland.

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‘It’s Done!’: German MMA Federations Officially Merge to Form Single National Governing Body

Pictured: GEMMAF president Clemens Werner (left) alongside GAMMAF president Adrian Bakos (right)

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

The German MMA Federation (GEMMAF) has announced confirmation of a complete and total merger with former rival national body, the German Amateur MMA Federation (GAMMAF).

Following previous meetings and commitments to cooperate, a final meeting was held on Saturday (November 5), to agree upon unified statutes and for board elections.

IMMAF affiliate, GEMMAF, and WMMAA affiliate, GAMMAF, first held talks last June in Bucharest, during the week of the 2018 IMMAF European Open Championships.

On a global scale, discussions became a requirement in 2018 as only one national organisation can be recognised following the amalgamation of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA).

Germany’s unified body will retain the title of ‘GEMMAF’, led by the following board members:

President: Clemens Werner
Vice-President of Professional Sport: Adrian Bakos
Vice-President of Competitive Amateur Sport: Lutz Heyden
Vice-President of Recreational Sport: Michael Wachter
Vice-President Treasurer: Maryna Ivashko

Targets of the national body include:

  • Recognition for the sport of MMA in Germany
  • Further Development of regional and national amateur championships
  • Establishing national rankings
  • Continued development of the German national amateur team.

In recent months there has already been excellent cooperation between both bodies,’ read a GEMMAF statement. ‘From now on, together with united forces we will pursue our goals as the biggest MMA association in Germany. This is another big step to organize the German MMA scene, make it safer, establish standards and burnish the image.’

IMMAF president Kerrith Brown commented:

“Since the amalgamation of IMMAF and WMMAA, Germany has been among the nations to set a terrific example in mirroring our united effort at a national level. I congratulate the members of GEMMAF and GAMMAF on this great development and for all that they have achieved previously as separate entities. We can now look forward to an inspiring future for German MMA.”   

WMMAA president Vadim Finkelchtein commented:

“I am very proud of the both German federations in finalising their merger. They are leading by example and proving that our sport is strong and united. I want to thank GAMMAF and GEMMAF for supporting the unified international federation (IMMAF and WMMAA) and helping us make history together.”

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CFMMA Announces French Team Trials & Elects New Board at General Meeting

The Commission Française de MMA (CFMMA) held a significant board meeting last month (4 December 2018) in Paris, in which national team tryouts were confirmed for 10 February in Paris [See here for details:] and new board members were appointed.

The President Bertrand Amoussou spoke positively of latest developments outlined in the meeting, expressing CFMMA’s hope that MMA will be legalised in France this year, following set-backs in 2018.  He spoke of plans for strong participation of the French national team in IMMAF – WMMAA international tournaments in 2019 and of CFMMA’s relaunching of its annual selections.

Agreements were reached in the meeting to roll out the progression scheme and gradings to CFMMA member clubs in 2019 with an inaugural black belt grading ceremony scheduled for February.

A busy calendar proposal includes a focus on education with the hosting of IMMAF -WMMAA Referees and Judges Licensing and Cutman courses, as well as attendance at the 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA Technical Seminar in Antalya.

Board Elections

Bertrand Amoussou and Ghislain Bryks were reelected as President and Treasurer, respectively, for seven year terms.

New board directors elected also for seven year terms were:

Estelle Peyen
Fares Abi Nader
Iurie Bejenari
Arnaud Colom
Aldric Cassata
Ahmed Korchi
Yann Leroux
Francois Maubert
Bakary Sissako

Astrid Beeleon was made an honorary board member.


Committees were appointed as follows:

– Sports Commission: Aldric (head), Ahmed, Bakary, François, Iurie, Estelle
– Medical Commission: Arnaud (head), Estelle, François, Bakary
– Grades Commission: Bertrand (head), Yann
– Prospecting Development Commission: Fares (head)
– Judges and Referees Committee: Ahmed (head)
– Communication Commission: Ghislain (interim)
– Training Commission: Bertrand (interim)
– Women’s Commission: Estelle (head)
– Youth Commission: Yann (head)

The CFMMA Board

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Irish Medical Gold Standard Commended by President Brown at IMMAA 2019 AGM

The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA) held its Annual General Assembly on Saturday (5 January) in Dublin at the Maldron Hotel Newlands Cross, attended by President Kerrith Brown and CEO Densign White of the unified world MMA governing body, IMMAF – WMMAA.

President John Kavanagh’s opening report applauded IMMAA’s achievements in 2018, including the introduction of Garda vetting process for all IMMAA coaches, the second round of licensing for MMA coaches and the continuation of MMA specific insurance. The attainment of 2nd place (after Russia) by the Irish team in the 2018 IMMAF – WMMAA Unified World Championships also gave grounds for celebration, as did members’ continued upholding of the world’s highest medical standard for MMA competitors. The IMMAF President later commended IMMAA as the first National Federation in the world to achieve the Safe MMA Gold standard in participant safety.

Kavanagh also announced the appointment of consultants Denis Rowan and Associates to support the development of IMMAA’s Strategic Development plan, and put in place the processes required of IMMAA as a National Governing Body.

A significant motion was passed by the AGM:

  • IMMAA will continue the practice of issuing a statement distancing the association from any MMA events in Ireland that have not engaged with IMMAA’s safety requirements

As the National Governing Federation of MMA in Ireland (recognised by IMMAF- WMMAA) the IMMAA board put the motion to the AGM and received a unanimous mandate for its leadership on this matter.  IMMAA has no legal authority to” police” MMA events that have not engaged and do not do so. The Board supported by the membership consider it necessary for IMMAA to issue statements distancing itself from all non-compliant events: This is to ensure that the IMMAA ‘s Event Safety Standards and the integrity of the National Federation’s Gold Standard in Athlete safety is preserved.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown

Further open discussion topics included the Safe MMA ‘Gold’ standard requirement for one-off MRI scans for amateurs.

The IMMAF – WMMAA CEO promoted the importance focussing on the development of the grassroots of our sport and commended the sporting programmes scheduled in 2019 by IMMAA members. He supported the proposal for more mat based and light/ semi-contact gym competitions, particularly for youths (for whom head shots are not permitted.)

Three board positions were put to vote with Owen Roddy and Liam O’Griffin re-elected. Tim Murphy was also elected to the Board.

Ordinary business included the reviewing and adopting of minutes from the previous AGM, approval of the 2017 financial accounts, appointment of auditors for filing of accounts and discussion of individual membership fees.

Chaired by Chairman Clive Staunton, board members in attendance included President John Kavanagh, Treasurer Liam O’Griffin, Owen Roddy, Deano Sullivan, Tim Murphy and David Jones.

Following the morning’s Annual General Meeting, the afternoon included talks and open discussions with Safe MMA representatives Professor Dan Healy and trustee, Isobel (Izzy) Carnwath, as well as the IMMAF – WMMAA CEO and President, in which developing young Irish talent pathways towards the long goal of competing in future Olympic Games was advocated.

Group of attendees from afternoon discussion group

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Standout Nations Approach 2019 National Championships & Team Trials

By lead writer/photographer Jorden Curran

2019 will mark the first full year of unified international championships under IMMAF and WMMAA. The level of competition is at an all-time high and the talent pool is deeper than ever before.

In the coming months, nations worldwide will one-by-one complete national team selections for the upcoming international amateur circuit of IMMAF-WMMAA events. Over the next two months in particular, some of the MMA world’s standout nations are set to host national qualifiers.

Since the inaugural 2014 IMMAF World Championships, Sweden, the USA and UK have been three of the most prominent competing nations. However, at the 2018 Unified World Championships, the debut impact of an all new Team Russia, now fulfilling the nation’s talent capacity after IMMAF’s amalgamation with Russian based WMMAA, indicated an all new threat to nations accustomed to achieving medals.

Under the UKMMAF umbrella, Team England’s first training session open to all national athletes will be hosted on January 20 at 12 Gauge MMA in Manchester, serving as an assessment session for team selections. Further dates include February 9 at the Unit 1 Gym in Bury St Edmunds and February 10 at Titan Fighters Gym in London – visit for more information.

The Welsh MMA Federation (MMA Cymru) will host trials under the same format, but with a notice of potential national championships in the event of a high turnout of contenders. The South Wales trials will be hosted on February 9 at the Hangar Human Performance Centre in Cardiff with North Wales trials being held on February 10 at the IPC Gym in Wrexham. Follow MMACymru for more information.

Sweden, the World’s number-one ranked nation in amateur MMA, will see the SMMAF National Championships take place on January 26-27 in Vasteras. The annual event will crown the nation’s 2019 national champions and earmark gold and silver medalists as primary picks for the renown national squad. Visit for more information.

For now five years running, The USA is the only nation to have won gold at every World Championships under the IMMAF banner. At last year’s historic Unified Worlds, senior women’s bantamweight champion LaNeisha Vincent claimed her nation’s sole gold medal of the 2018 event. As Russia, Sweden and other rival nations continue to step up, the pressure is greater than ever for the USA to continue its gold standard. Taking place from February 28 – March 2, the USA MMA Kick Federation hosts its own annual UMMAF Nationals, this year taking place in St. Ignance, Michigan. Visit for more information.

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