IMMAF Definition of Amateur MMA Explained: Prize Money & Financial Gain

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

The China International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has gifted half-a-million dollars in prize money for medallists and awardees at the 2018 IMMAF Asian Open Championships and Junior World Championships, taking place in Beijing from 10 to 15 September.

This ground breaking development will see prize money up for grabs for the first time at an IMMAF championship event.


The answer is yes. Payment of prize money will not affect a competitor’s record or amateur eligibility.

The complete definition of ‘amateur’ is varied between all sports and is based on the decision of the international body and subsequent federations at a national level. Amateur athletes from other combat sports such as boxing and karate have been granted the right to receive prize money.

In fact, all Olympic athletes are given the right to receive added prize money from their national sport body, based on performance or medals won. The Olympic Games have gradually become open to more professionals as well as amateurs since 1988, but the decision was left to the individual sports as to whether to adopt the policy change. IMMAF still enforces a strict definition of amateur with regards to financial gain.

As stated in the IMMAF eligibility criteria, an athlete will be considered pro and ineligible to compete if;

  • Under contract with a professional MMA or combat sport promotion
  • He/ she has received a fee for participating in a professional MMA or combat sports match

Click for full list of eligibility guidelines.

IMMAF’s eligibility rules for financial gains have NOT been altered. Signing a contract and receiving a fee (definition: a payment made to a professional person or to a professional or public body in exchange for advice or services) is still prohibited.

Prize money under IMMAF has ALWAYS been acceptable and does NOT fall under the definition of a ‘fee’. Also, athletes are entitled to sponsorship and financial grants similar to that of amateur Olympians, and payment of expenses, of which are widely distributed by amateur MMA promoters, in addition to athletes in amateur sport worldwide.

IMMAF athletes regularly seek local sponsors in the build up to IMMAF championship events, and are permitted to wear logos (subject to approval) on their official competition shorts.

For any nations for which the receipt of prize money could present an issue under local sport regulation, the federation should contact IMMAF directly.


Using the example of university grants; the financial aid enables sustainable training and education for amateur athletes or unemployed students.

Prize money under IMMAF is an incentive to boost global participation in Amateur MMA where countless athletes turn professional too soon, the motivation being a lack of funds available while amateur.

Further details about how prize money will be distributed and paid is to follow.


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BEIJING – 10 – 15 SEPTEMBER[Note date change]

The China International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has gifted half a million dollars in prize money for medallists and awardees at the 2018 IMMAF Asian Open Championships and Junior World Championships, taking place in Beijing from 10 to 15 September.

The prize money will be divided between Gold, Silver and Bronze medallists of the two tournaments, and awardees for Best Male and Female Athletes, Best Coach and Best Team.

Further details and criteria for individual prizes will be confirmed once the tournament brackets have closed and number of divisions and potential medallists have been consolidated. Brackets are currently open to applications from Atomweight to Lightweight for women and  Strawweight to Super Heavyweight for men.

IMMAF also today announced that it has unfortunately been forced to push forward the dates of the tournament by one week to 10 to 15 September. This is due to a China-Africa Cooperation Forum taking place in Beijing, for which the Beijing Public Security Bureau has called a mandatory halt to all other activities. IMMAF apologises for all inconvenience caused and registered participants who would like to withdraw are entitled to refunds. The extended deadline for entry is now Wednesday, 15th August 2018.

International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s nation vs nation tournaments play out over up to 5 days, with competitors competiting up to 5 times under IMMAF Unified Amateur MMA Rules. Strict amateur eligibility criteria applies.

Both Beijing tournaments are open events, welcoming elite amateurs from all around the World. The Junior event will be IMMAF’s first Junior World Championships open to 18s- 21s only, provides better opportunity for rising stars to shine against competitors within a similar range of experience. It also creates a safer competition environment for younger adults who have not yet reached their physical peak. The Senior Asian Open is open to over 18s with no age limits.

Athletes must apply through their IMMAF or WMMAA affiliated national federation.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“I would like to thank CIMMAF President Mr. Wei for the generous financial donation, intended to support the development of our top athletes. As a former competitor, I fully understand the sacrifices that athletes have to make in order to hone their craft and the financial hardship that can go with it. While MMA is unrecognized by many countries, are athletes often work hard to self-fund their way to IMMAF competitions. And there are many pressures in MMA for athletes to go pro too early, for small cash, and we at IMMAF would like to encourage participants to remain at amateur sharpening their game for as log as possible for their own development and longevity, as well as that of the sport. I am thrilled, that the generosity of Mr. Wei and of CIMMAF has given IMMAF the opportunity to bestow financial rewards on the stand-out athletes of the forthcoming IMMAF Asian Open and Junior Worlds.

“We would also like to apologise for all inconvenience caused by the change in competition dates, which is a matter outside IMMAF’s control and in compliance with host country law. We pledge to ensure that participants who have already registered do not lose out and are refunded for losses caused by the date change.”



IMMAF President visits Thai MMA Federation as OneShin Cup & Ignite Warrior Series flourish

Pictured: IMMAF President Kerrith Brown (left), TMMAF President Jitinat Asdamongkol (centre), Thonglor “Master Thong” Armatsena (right)

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

Ignite Warrior Series for amateur mixed martial artists has been described by FoxSports Asia as: ‘Thailand’s most glitzy and star-studded MMA TV show yet.’

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown is a guest of the Thai MMA Federation (TMMAF) this week as the national body oversees the OneShin Cup and Ignite Warrior Series in Bangkok, taking place this weekend and culminating with finals on Sunday, July 22.

Established just last year and named after Thai MMA icon Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai, the event has already flourished, now featuring on televised broadcast Ignite Warriors Series and welcomes a host of the region’s top amateur talent; in addition to welcoming products of the U.S. based Team Alpha Male, accompanied by the gym’s renowned striking coach, Thailand’s own Thonglor “Master Thong” Armatsena.

“Last year in September was TMMAF’s first pilot event called Oneshin Cup,” TMMAF President Plai Jitinat Asdamongkol explained. “It was a one-day tournament format that was streamed live online via Facebook. We adopted the rule frameworks of IMMAF and held a tournament to test it out.

 “After the success of the first event, we developed an MMA league format designed for live television broadcast called Ignite Warrior Championship, utilizing the same rules set with some slight modifications to fit the TV airtime. The format first aired this May and has been running for the past few months with the final happening this Sunday.”

He added, “Over the next few days, Mr Brown will be meeting with Master Thong, who has been involved with TMMAF projects this year. We look forward to working with [Master Thong] in creating development pathways for future generations of Thai athletes.”

A selection of the competition’s standout athletes will be invited by the Thai MMA Federation to represent the country in September at the 2018 IMMAF Asian Open Championships in Beijing, China.

“We recruited some of the athletes who participated in last year’s format and entered them into the league competition, from where we will select the strongest athletes for participation in the IMMAF Asian Open this September.”

The event incorporates IMMAF’s initiative for unified amateur rules, IMMAF’s official adaptation of the unified professional rules of MMA. Rules include use of 7oz gloves, shin guards, rash guards, 3×3 minute rounds, plus heel hooks, elbows and knees to the head as prohibited maneuvers (full IMMAF rules list HERE).

Furthermore, the TMMAF President explains the effort to see that events meet the highest quality of standards, with ambitions for Thai MMA to mirror that of the IMMAF championships.

“We implement a more elaborate health clearance and blood check for all athletes – something that many other amateur or pro MMA promoters in Thailand weren’t really implementing before, a few exceptions were that of high quality promoters, like Full Metal Dojo. We also invest in a professional, experienced referees and officials team.”

While MMA is not currently recognised by government in Thailand, TMMAF works with private sector and local promoters by helping to set rules and regulations in line with IMMAF standards, in addition to marketing support encompassing TMMAF aims for the landscape of amateur MMA.

Visit FoxSports Asia for more information on the OneShin Cup and Ignite Warrior Series.

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Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism documents consequences of weight cutting in MMA

Based on research collected in 2017 by IMMAF’s Ben Crighton and fellow researchers, the group’s latest case study was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, documenting performance effects and harmful consequences through the ‘physiological and metabolic impact of extreme weight cutting by an elite male MMA athlete.’

The aim of the present case study was to quantify the physiological and metabolic impact of extreme weight cutting by an elite male MMA athlete. Throughout an 8-week period, we obtained regular assessments of body composition, resting metabolic rate (RMR), VO2peak and blood clinical chemistry to assess endocrine status, lipid profiles, hydration and kidney function. The athlete adhered to a “phased” weight loss plan consisting of 7 weeks of reduced energy (ranging from 1300 – 1900 kcal.d-1) intake (phase 1), 5 days of water loading with 8 L per day for 4 days followed by 250 ml on day 5 (phase 2), 20 h fasting and dehydration (phase 3) and 32 h of rehydration and refuelling prior to competition (phase 4). Body mass declined by 18.1 % (80.2 to 65.7 kg) corresponding to changes of 4.4, 2.8 and 7.3 kg in phase 1, 2 and 3, respectively. We observed clear indices of relative energy deficiency, as evidenced by reduced RMR (-331 kcal), inability to complete performance tests, alterations to endocrine hormones (testosterone: ❤ nmol.L-1) and hypercholesterolemia (>6 mmol.L-1). Moreover, severe dehydration (reducing body mass by 9.3%) in the final 24 hours prior to weigh-in induced hypernatremia (plasma sodium: 148 mmol.L-1) and acute kidney injury (serum creatinine: 177 μmol.L-1). These data therefore support publicised reports of the harmful (and potentially fatal) effects of extreme weight cutting in MMA athletes and represent a call for action to governing bodies to safeguard the welfare of MMA athletes.


1Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences. Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. 2Pure Sports Medicine, London, UK. 3Department of Nephrology, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool, UK. *Address for Correspondence: Dr. James P. Morton, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences Liverpool John Moores University Byrom Street, Liverpool, L3 3AF, UK Email:

Full study available HERE.

Ben Crighton MSc is a performance nutritionist and PhD researcher in mixed martial arts, who has produced multiple studies with credited colleagues and medical specialists from Liverpool John Moores University.

Ben frequently volunteers in event operations at IMMAF championships where he also delivers educational seminars, in addition to collecting weight cutting and performance data from international amateur MMA athletes.

Previous research from Liverpool John Moores University was highlighted by via the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2015, shortly after the tragic death of professional Chinese flyweight Yang Jiang Bing, who was reported to have shockingly passed away as a result of weight cutting complications. The editorial and study concluded in a Call for Action. Click HERE for the full article and PDF download.

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Altas vs. Bond, IMMAF World Champion meets fellow European gold medalist in pro bout

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

As amateur standouts, Serdar Altas and Jake Bond both claimed IMMAF’s European title in the men’s flyweight division, yet the former gold medal winners, who earned the crown in respective years of one another, never faced off on the international platform.

In a compelling bout that’s four years in the making, the duo are now set to meet as professional contenders in Västerås, Sweden, on the card of FCR 3 on August 18.

On just one occasion Altas and Bond both featured in the same bracket of an IMMAF championships, in Birmingham, the UK, at the inaugural IMMAF European Open in 2015, but their paths were not destined to cross.

For his sole stint with the UK national team, Bond represented the country on home soil while Sweden’s Altas entered as the odds on tournament favourite, having earned a silver medal earlier that year at the IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas.

However, in the event’s biggest upset, Altas was eliminated in the opening round of bouts by Bahrain’s Hussain Maki, a loss he avenged last year in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Championships.

At the 2015 Euros, it was Bond who showcased an unrelenting ground game as he went on to win the men’s flyweight gold medal, submitting Maki in the semi-finals with a rear-naked-choke before meeting Warren Mason in an all-UK final, ending the contest by securing an arm-bar in the first round.

Following the achievement, Bond called time on his amateur run and successfully made his professional debut in August of 2016. The 27-year-old Manchester man is currently 1-1 as a pro.

In contrast, Altas remained amateur for a further two years, accumulating a streak of 9 victories that saw him bounce back to claim the European title in 2016 before reaching the amateur pinnacle with gold in Bahrain at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships.

At age 23, Altas has now retired from the Swedish national team and made his own professional debut last May with KO victory via a high kick, under the banner of prominent Swedish promotion, Superior Challenge.

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