Deadline dates for IMMAF Africa Open and European Championships registration

2018 IMMAF Africa Open

Team registration windows are currently open for three of this year’s international IMMAF championships including the Africa Open, European Championships and European Youth Open Championships. Scroll down for deadline dates.

**Registration Deadline is Tuesday, April 24**

The Africa Open Championships, spanning three-days, returns to the Brakpan Sports Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa from 24 to 26 May. Renown for the warm hospitality of hosting national body, MMA South Africa (MMASA), the 2018 Africa Open is anticipated to be the biggest to date with record participation figures expected among African nations, in addition to competitors from beyond the continent.

** Registration Deadline is Monday, May 7 **

The Senior IMMAF European Championships is open to all European competitors age 18 and above. The 2018 European Championships, the second largest event on the IMMAF calendar, will this year be exclusive to European nations for the first time. The event is set to be welcomed by first time hosts, the Romanian Kempo MMA Federation (RMMAF), from 17 to 23 June in Bucharest.

IMMAF 2018 European Open (Youth event) –

** Registration Deadline: Monday, May 7**

Also making history in Bucharest, the IMMAF Youth European Open Championships is IMMAF’s first ever junior competition for 18,19 & 20-year-old athletes only, open to all nations, worldwide. Junior IMMAF championships provide a magnificent and fair opportunity to developing young athletes; those who seek further experience at a young age or who are simply in the earlier stages of their competitive journey in amateur MMA.

For more information on the IMMAF European Youth Open, click HERE.

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UK Anti-Doping recognises four-year ban imposed on British MMA competitor.

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

British MMA professional Aaron Thomas (pictured), aka ‘Azi Thomas’, has been pulled from a bout in the UK after the nation’s anti-doping body publicly recognised a failed drug test and subsequent international ban spanning four years, reported by

Last year, Thomas competed at the EFC 59 event in Johannesburg, battling to a draw with South Africa’s Pierre Botha. The event was sanctioned by national regulatory body and IMMAF member, Mixed Martial Arts South Africa (MMASA).

The Manchester athlete, who holds a professional 9-3-1 record, has since been banned from MMA competition for four years — between 23 June 2017 and 22 June 2021 — following an ‘Anti-Doping Rule Violation’ in a test administered by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) – an official WADA affiliate. The SAIDS website confirmed that Thomas had accepted the doping violation.

In a public news release on February 2, a UKAD report noted the detected steroid traces: “Mr Thomas tested positive for 2α-methyl-5α-androstan-3α-ol-17one, a metabolite of Drostanolone as well as Nandrolone and its metabolites, 19-norandrosterone and 19-noreticholanolone.”

On March 22, Russian based promotion ACB announced that Thomas was set to face British standout Regis Sugden on an upcoming card in the UK, taking place on May 19 in Nottingham.

Having later been notified, ACB told “We were made aware that one of the fighters we have announced for ACB Nottingham on May 19th has a situation/issue that means we have had to remove them from the card. We will look to announce a replacement for this bout as soon as possible.”

As the recognised government body for MMA in South Africa, MMASA sanctioning is accompanied by drug testing conducted by SAIDS.

A branch of the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, UK Anti-Doping is the organisation responsible for protecting sport in the United Kingdom from doping.

The acknowledgement shown by UKAD is an unprecedented development for MMA in the UK, legitimising the sport’s status despite it not currently being recognised or sanctioned by government. Therefore, events on British soil are in the position to self-regulate, sometimes without notification of imposed suspensions, be it for doping violations, medical suspensions or other reasons.

UKAD’s recognition of international sanctioning is an encouraging step forward, highlighting the need for government relations with the UK MMA Federation (UKMMAF) and the potential for international ties that ensure safe and clean sport, worldwide.

Promotions may currently volunteer to adopt UKMMAF sanctioning, in addition to the medical passport service provided by specialist medical clearance and advisory body, Safe MMA.

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IMMAF adds Men’s Strawweight and Women’s Atomweight divisions for all future events

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

IMMAF has today confirmed that two additional weight divisions will be added to all future IMMAF championship events.

Following inquiries and subsequent research and feedback gathered from IMMAF’s worldwide membership of over 60 nations, the additions of a Men’s Strawweight division (115 lbs/52.2kgs) and Women’s Atomweight division (105 lbs/47.6kgs) are set to be introduced.

“IMMAF continuously seeks to provide opportunities for as many athletes as possible,” Events Manager Alistair Pettitt stated. “Therefore, following inquiries to add Male Strawweight and Female Atomweight divisions to IMMAF championships, we approached all national federations in order to accurately measure the demand.

“The feedback was substantial and I am pleased to announce that, with immediate affect, these weight categories will be added to all future IMMAF championship events. We greatly appreciate the insight received from IMMAF members and look forward to welcoming the additional influx of world class amateur talent.”

In 2015 the Women’s Lightweight division was the newest introduction and first featured at the European Open following the initial 13 weight brackets contested at the 2014 IMMAF World Championships. The all new Men’s Strawweight and Women’s Atomweight divisions will be accompanied by official world rankings.

The update will now see a total of 16 ranked divisions under IMMAF, including 6 Women’s divisions from Atomweight to Lightweight and 10 Men’s divisions from Strawweight to Super-Heavyweight.

Remaining IMMAF 2018 events schedule:

2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships
24 – 26 May, Johannesburg – South Africa

2018 IMMAF European Championships
PLUS IMMAF European Youth Open Championships (age 18 -20)
17 – 23 June, Bucharest – Romania

2018 IMMAF Asian Open Championships
PLUS IMMAF Junior MMA World Championships (age 18 -20)
3 – 8 September, Beijing – China

2018 IMMAF World Championships
11 – 18 November, Manama – Bahrain

Athletes wishing to participate should contact their national federation for local tryouts information and updates.

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Minna Grusander wins Invicta debut in style: ‘The Atomweight title is in sight’

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

Former IMMAF world champion Minna Grusander extended her professional record to 6-1 on March 24 with an impressive debut victory under the banner of Invicta Fighting Championships.

The 2015 IMMAF amateur world champion took the gold medal back to Finland after coming out on top of the Women’s Strawweight division in Las vegas. ‘Brutsku’ made her professional debut later that year and has gone from strength to strength, currently enjoying a streak of four consecutive stoppage victories.

Her latest triumph and biggest victory to date came at Invicta FC 28 in Salt Lake City, USA. The FinnFighters Gym product admitted to a slow start when facing of against Brazil’s Fernanda Priscila, the opening round saw back an forth action as the Brazilian scored with offence in the early stages before the pair exchanged Guillotine choke attempts, but Grusander would take control with strikes on the ground to finish the round strongly.

Round two served up an outcome that saw Grusander showcase her devastating finishing ability, previously seen on the European circuit. Confident and settled, each touch of the Finn fighter’s jab chipped away at her opponent and forced Priscila to the ground and into defense mode. From there, Grusander forced a stoppage with strikes.

“This first experience with Invicta has been pretty much how I had pictured it,” she explained to the following day, “very professionally organised and everybody is super friendly and nice, I had a very warm welcome. I was anxiously waiting for my Invicta debut less than 24 hours ago and I’m already anxiously waiting to see what we’ll come up with for my future bouts! No doubt, the vacant title keeps blinking in the corner of my eye.”

Completing a triumphant double-debut, Grusander picked up her first victory in the world’s leading all-Women’s MMA promotion, in addition to seeing through her first win as a 105lb Atomweight contender. After beginning her professional career, Grusander’s attention soon turned towards competing as a top flight Atomweight, but with a lack of opponents, she prepared herself with a series of catch-weight contests before joining the well established Invicta ranks.

“It has been pretty clear when turning pro that I’m too tiny for a Strawweight (115lbs). Most of my pro bouts have been 110lb catch-weights, but it’s been just a matter of time for me to make the obvious decision to get down to Atomweight when getting a spot in a recognized, well competed Atomweight division, like now in Invicta.

“About this first cut… To be honest, pretty much nothing went as planned, but sometimes things just choose to happen a bit differently and you’ll just roll with the punches. With my awesome team of coaches, Sami Sakko and Aleksi Kainulainen, we dealt with what we had and I made the weight as expected and got my heart and body 100-percent into the fight itself.”

Despite facing a degree of difficulty en route to making the Atomweight limit for the first time, Grusander remains highly confident, having learnt from the process.

“It actually gave me a lot of confidence towards the future,” she explained, “after going through this, a bit of a bigger weight cut, with issues, and still having my body performing the way it should, I felt great throughout the weekend.” 

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Sweden win amateur cup 3-2, Wales’s Pedersen puts top lightweights on notice

Pictured: Welsh contenders Scott Pedersen (left), Ben Miles (center) and Will Davies (right) – photo by Richard Valerado|Adrenalin Fight Night

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

Team Sweden celebrates cup victory

Team Sweden celebrates cup victory

Members of the Swedish national amateur MMA team were in Wales this past weekend for a nation vs. nation cup event and warm-up as we head towards the 2018 IMMAF European Championships.

Team Wales and UKMMAF national coach Chris Rees paid tribute to the number-one ranked nation ahead of the event:

“The Swedish athletes are the epitome of what I believe fighters should be: dedicated, skilled, conditioned and intelligent fighters in the octagon, and gentlemen out of it. Regulars on the IMMAF circuit, please do not be fooled by the fact that these are amateur athletes. The IMMAF events truly feature some of the world’s best fighters in the sport of amateur MMA and the Swedish team are right at the top of the food chain. I look forward to welcoming them to Wales tomorrow along with their coach Jörgen Hamberg and pitting our skills against each other.”

Sweden edged out the Welsh team with a 3-2 victory to take home the Adrenalin Fight Night cup. Securing wins for Sweden included 2016 European champion Renato Vidovic stopping Ben Miles with a first round TKO, Jonny Tauma completed a first round submission (rear-naked-choke) over Morgan Monk* and Robin Roos earned a split-decision win over Will Davies*.

The Welsh duo of Shane Price and Scott Pedersen, both veterans of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, secured wins with Price locking on a first round arm-bar submission against Alexander Lindgren* and Pedersen clinched a narrow split-decision over the world’s number-one ranked lightweight, Tobias Harila 

*Replacement opponents

For Price and Pedersen, their triumphs carry particular significance as the pair continue to bounce back from defeat at the 2017 World Championships, each being drawn against the eventual gold medalist in the opening round of their respective divisions.

The current momentum of 21-year-old Pedersen sends a strong message to potential rivals ahead of this year’s European Championships in Bucharest, Romania, as the Chris Rees Academy man aims to return to the UK national team. If there was any doubt following his exit from the 2017 Worlds, the Welshman’s victory over Harila, who won silver at last year’s Euros, has since reaffirmed his position as a threat to all contenders.

“With my last two wins I’ve proved to myself that I can beat the best amateurs in the world,” Pedersen told “After losing (in the 2017 World Championships), I’ve just put my nose to the grind and haven’t looked back, I can’t wait to show what I can do in the Europeans and Worlds this year.”

The 2018 IMMAF European Championships and Youth European Open take place from 17 to 23 June at the Grand Rin Hotel in Bucharest, hosted by the Romanian Kempo MMA Federation (RMMAF).

With registration now open, athletes wishing to participate should contact their national federation for local tryouts information and updates.

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