Russia and England Take Lead in Junior MMA World Rankings

Alongside front runners Russia, England’s promising junior MMA team (for athletes age 18-20) has excelled to share top accolades in the IMMAF – WMMAA world rankings, following the conclusion of last month’s Junior European Open Championships.

Russia, who boast the world’s top ranked junior team, extended the nation’s lead with a table topping 5 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze at the Junior European Open in Rome, while also conquering at the concurrent senior level.

The Russian MMA Union further proved the depth of the nation’s young talent, with 4 of the team’s European Open gold medalists being newcomers to the national squad, while junior heavyweight standout Shamsutdin Makhmudov (pictured below) added European Open triumph to his list of accolades after first emerging last November to win gold at the 2018 Junior World Championships.

In Rome, the 20-year-old Makhmudov delivered unsettling strikes to his opposition, opening up windows for the clinch and takedown before drowning his rivals on the ground with a heavy, unrelenting top game. In the final, he charged to a first round TKO over former number-one junior Trevor Makengo.

Meanwhile, as the UKMMAF* fell short at the senior World Championships in 2018, the nation’s hopes for gold were supported by the junior team and inaugural world champions Muhammad Mokaev (men’s bantamweight) and Megan Morris (women’s flyweight).

*The dissolution of the UKMMAF was confirmed on June 28, succeeded by the English MMA Association (EMMAA), including the transition of Team UK to Team England with existing ranking points to be attributed to England – read more HERE.

The now former Team UK, supported by English and Scottish athletes, rose to second place in the European Open medal table, earning 3 junior division titles and 2 silvers, 1 bronze, taking them to second place in the international team rankings while Ireland drops one place to third.

It may even have been 4 golds for the UK team, but for the late withdrawal of Scotland’s Shannon Troup on medical grounds, whose impressive TKO win in the women’s strawweight semi-final saw her claim silver while Germany’s Anna Gaul became a two-time European Open gold medalist. Nevertheless, English standouts Milly Horkan (women’s bantamweight) and Izzy Mitchell (women’s lightweight) secured back-to-back gold medals on the championship’s final day.

The gold medal trio was completed by 18-year-old UK prodigy and reining junior world champion, Muhammad Mokaev, who stormed to 15-0 in Rome, battling flawlessly through the rounds to meet world silver medalist Reo Yamaguchi for a second time. A purely sublime performance across all three stanzas saw Mokaev claim the continental title and subsequently become the world’s highest ranked junior athlete, no.1 in the IMMAF-WMMAA pound-for-pound standings with Russia’s Makhmudov prowling closely behind in second place.

Main picture: Russian junior flyweight Akhmed Nutsalkhanov (upper), Muhammad Mokaev (lower)

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

See full list of 2019 European Open medalists and medal tables HERE
View and download current IMMAF – WMMAA world rankings HERE

EMMAA Follow Up: Safe MMA, Team England and Development of “Home Nations”

On June 28 the English MMA Association (EMMAA) was formally announced as the fresh governing body established to develop the sport of mixed martial arts in England.

Initially, there had been work in progress to develop an England federation alongside MMA Cymru (Wales), the Ulster MMA Association (Northern Ireland) and eventual Scotland Federation as affiliates of the UKMMAF. Upon the EMMAA formally submitting its membership application, UKMMAF President Windy Miller informed both IMMAF CEO Densign White and President Kerrith Brown of the full dissolution of UKMMAF. There is currently no plan to reinstate an umbrella UK body as the ‘Home Nations’ move forward as established, capable stewards of sport development in their respective regions.

IMMAF.org’s Jorden Curran followed up with EMMAA president, Marc Goddard, to confirm some further outstanding questions following the birth of EMMAA and dissolution of the UKMMAF.

EMMAA AND SAFE MMA

Safe MMA, which does not serve as a regulatory body, will remain a third-party adviser to EMMAA and engaging promotions, covering the medical screening of athletes. In line with other recognised sports, athletes become registered with the national body (EMMAA) through membership with their registered club/gym. When competing, an athletes’ medical data is then handled by Safe MMA who report to the national governing body.

TEAM UK ATHLETES

In the wake of Team UK’s encouraging success at the 2019 European Open in Rome, which included athletes from England and Scotland (while Wales & Northern Ireland already have established national teams), the EMMAA is to absorb the entire UK squad of athletes for senior, junior and youth championships, with meetings expected to take place for the continued involvement of select head coaches and team leaders. EMMAA will also absorb all existing Team UK ranking points.

SCOTLAND

In the meantime, any Scottish national is free to compete, subject to selection, under the Team England banner, until a Scottish federation is established.

Goddard, himself a Scotsman, echoed this sentiment and revealed further plans to aid in facilitating the development of a Scottish MMA regulatory body.

“The national team is a platform to take amateur athletes to a world level. Any Scottish athlete can come with England, and of course carry the Scottish flag. When MMA gets its day in the Olympics, we (England, Wales, Scotland, N.Ireland) will obviously come together for a Team UK.”

Goddard added, ” We want to see all four countries grow collectively and to get there we will share information and any process that can be mutually beneficial, including for the establishment of a Scottish federation, for which we have meetings coming up.

“Together, we will function concurrently under a ‘Home Nations’ mechanic. Much needed funding for the sport relies on recognition, and that includes regional recognition under Sport England, Sport Wales, Sport Scotland and Sport NI. This is when the real work starts and the opportunity and greater function of the sport really begins.

“Give us time, and importantly, join us.”

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

Main picture: Leon Roberts, Dr Abad Ali, Martin Shotbolt, Marc Goddard, Nick Peet. Front row: Nigel von Sachsenburg, Paul Sutherland, Rosi Sexton, Dan Hardy.

Senior Rankings Update: Movers and Shakers

The official amateur MMA world rankings saw their latest major update last month following the climax of the 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA European Open Championships in Rome.

Below, IMMAF.org breaks down five of the biggest developments in the senior pound-for-pound and national team rankings, covering 800 athletes and over 60 international teams.

1. Axel Sola Clings on to No.1 Pound-for-Pound Spot

It’s been a rocky year for Frenchman Axel Sola as the world’s highest ranked athlete sees out his final year of amateur competition before aiming to turn pro. The two-time world silver medalist and former European Open gold medalist entered 2019 as the world-number-one, stepping up from welterweight to middleweight, and earned gold medals at the Oceania and Pan American Opens. However, a rare defeat for the 21-year-old at this year’s Asian Open served as his first setback before a hand injury saw him withdraw from the Africa Open final. After showcasing fine form to reach last month’s European Open semis, the injury resurfaced and Sola opted to take bronze with a view to being fully fit for the 2019 World Championships in November.

2. Bahrain Holds off Russia to Remain as No.1 Nation

Pictured: Bahrain’s Ramazan Gitinov takes a pivotal decision victory over Russia’s Evgeny Morozov in the men’s welterweight European Open final

After years of state investment dedicated to Bahrain’s national team and the sport’s domestic grass roots, Bahrain secured the coveted number-one spot this year in the IMMAF – WMMAA national team rankings, with vast success at the Asian and Africa Open Championships. Bahrain and Russia went head-to-head at the 2019 European Open with each nation earning 5 gold medals. While Russia topped the overall senior medal table, Team Bahrain had done enough to stick around as the world’s highest placed team heading into the 2019 World Championships back on home soil this coming November.

3. Sweden Drops from 3rd to 5th Place

After years of success for Team Sweden, the nation faces its greatest test to date in regaining podium prominence. In the wake of past champions and team icons having turned pro, Sweden’s new wave of talent have had it tough as more and more nations produce gold medal contenders. Top women’s strawweight Nina Back (pictured), perhaps Sweden’s strongest current performer, is the nation’s highest ranked athlete, the world and European silver medalist occupies 16th place in the pound-for-pound standings. It’s worth remembering that past Swedish greats such as Smajic, Holm, Ringblom and Akman all faced early defeats with the national team before going on to conquer their divisions.

4. Bulgaria Drops to 14th place

From 2015 to 2017 the Bulgarian national team was second only to Sweden as the Baltic nation hauled in the medals. However, Bulgaria’s most successful standouts, such as Ferdun Osmanov, Daniel Galabarov and Alexandra Toncheva, each moved on to fulfill professional aspirations. The Bulgarian MMA Federation, with alternate coaching staff, have been unable to maintain past standards of success and failed to earn a gold medal for the first time at the 2019 European Open, instead forced to settle for a trio of bronze medals with two-time world champion Delyan Georgiev also seeing his 28-0 win streak ended by a split-decision in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, the potential is there for Bulgaria to reawaken its world leading form as a nation that has shown itself to be a consistent producer of young talent.

5. Ukraine Breaks the Top 10, Storming to 6th Place

Up from 12th place in the national team rankings, Ukraine storms into the top 10 with flourishing form dating back to 2018 when men’s lightweight Pavel Senchenko won European Open gold, followed by Daria Samchik winning the women’s strawweight world title. Continuing the nation’s momentum, Ukraine placed 3rd in the senior European Open medal table, as Anastasiya Svetkivska claimed the women’s strawweight gold and Ata Atdayev upset Russia to take the men’s flyweight title. Supplemented by the likes of silver medalist Artem Afanasenko (pictured) eliminating reigning world champion Georgiev, Ukraine looks set to challenge the likes of Sweden and Kazakhstan at the 2019 World Championships for a place in the top 3.

Download respective senior and junior pound-for-pound/team rankings sheets HERE

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

IMMAF Board welcomes WMMAA representatives for first time

Denitza Batchvarova also welcomed for first face:face meetings as recently appointed board director

History was made at the 2019 European Open Championships last weekend, with the first joint meeting of the IMMAF board with WMMAA nominees to the board, ahead of elections at the November AGM in Bahrain.

Denitza Batchvarova, recently appointed non-executive director

This meeting in Rome was a decisive milestone in the World Governing Body’s quest for recognition, as it proved that one, legitimate and credible organisation has now replaced two rival bodies, which had been founded independently from within the MMA community. The companies merged as a legal entity in 2018, with WMMAA staff joining the IMMAF team.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“I am delighted to see how our desire to overcome rivalry in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts has led to this day. Our brand is growing in strength through our drive for new members, our organisation of major championship events, our protocols that raise the bar for MMA safety. We are also constantly refining our regulatory developments and the implementation of progression pathways and educational licensing courses. Together, we have built a compelling case to gain GAISF Observer recognition.”

WMMAA President Vadim Finkelchtein said:

“As President of WMMAA, it’s an honour for my team to take part in our first joint meeting. I am confident that we will be able to take the sport of MMA to a new level internationally. By joining forces, we have become a truly global organisation and are offering world class services to our National Federations and Athletes. “

WMMAA President Vadim Finkelchtein and board nominee, Tatiana Klimenko

WMMAA Board members present were Vadim Finkelchtein, Viktor Frolov, Svetlana Odintsova, Galimzhan Yessenov, Tatiana Klimenko and Han Jiuli, and a wide ranging discussion led to a renewed commitment to providing world class representation and support for the athlete participants and National Federations of amateur Mixed Martial Arts.

Competition week for the European Championships also saw first face: face board meetings with recently appointed, non-executive director, Dentiza
Batchvarova
. With a background in investment banking at Citigroup, Deni currently works as Senior Vice President of Strategy for UFC, overseeing corporate development, FP&A, research and analytics, and data management.

Goddard and Hardy Driving Newly Formed English MMA Association


Newly established organisation to develop mixed martial arts in England.

A new English Mixed Martial Arts Association, EMMAA, was launched today in Birmingham, UK. Led by international referee Marc Goddard, as President, a total of nine founding directors – including former UFC title challenger turned TV analyst Dan Hardy – have established EMMAA under the auspices of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF | WMMAA) to represent the national MMA community with the following purposes:The education, training and safeguarding of young people, competitors and coaches in MMA.

  • – To develop the amateur sport with the long-term goal of seeing MMA at the Olympic Games.
  • – To harness the benefits MMA has to offer wider society.
  • – To represent English MMA internationally with the development of a national team via domestic competition.
  • – The installation of a national rankings system.
  • – To promote a positive image of mixed martial arts.

The main objective of the Association is the development of MMA as a sport discipline. EMMAA shares the International Olympic Committee (IOC) belief in sport’s power to connect people. The organization will promote MMA as a sport for everyone, regardless of origin, social status, race or religion. The mission of the organization is education at a grass roots level in order to minimize risk in the discipline. The Olympic Spirit and fair play are the principles that the Association will instil in the youngest generation. Alongside sport development and regulation, the long-term goal is to see MMA into the Olympic Games.

The EMMAA Board is made up of:

  • – Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs
  • – Dan Hardy, the first Englishman to fight for a UFC world title
  • – Rosi Sexton, England’s first ever female UFC fighter
  • – Leon Roberts, International referee
  • – Paul Sutherland, MMA judge and coach
  • – Nick Peet, fight sports journalist and media consultant
  • – Martin Shotbolt, EMMAA lead for NGB registration
  • – Nigel von Sachsenburg, MBA, business consultant
  • – Dr Abad Ali, MBBS, MRCGP, DCH. DRCOG, Sports & Exercise diploma

EMMAA President Marc Goddard says:

“Personally, I am thrilled, excited and ambitious to share the future of mixed martial arts that we hold a collective responsibility to. The invitation and formation of the inaugural board in my eyes needs no introduction and we all share and hold the same passion for this wonderful sport. United we stand.”

The first activities of the English MMA Association will be:  

  • – Outreach to clubs, fighters, officials, doctors and all participants for national registration.
  • – Unification of processes for participant safety, medical issues, personnel, licensing, rules and regulation, equipment, etc.
  • – The launch of a series of amateur tournaments, culminating with the inaugural English national championships – EMMAA National Finals in 2020.
  • – Develop a relationship with Safe MMA around athlete health registration.
  • – Lobbying for the regulation of MMA licensing with Sport England.
  • – Building a cooperative relationship with the Team GB Olympic Committee.

Main picture: Leon Roberts, Dr Abad Ali, Martin Shotbolt, Marc Goddard, Nick Peet. Front row: Nigel von Sachsenburg, Paul Sutherland, Rosi Sexton, Dan Hardy.

For media interview enquiries contact:
Nick Peet
Writer, Broadcaster & Media Consultant
e: mrnickpeet@gmail.com