IMMAF Partners with Peace and Sport

“Training in MMA provides an effective pathway to learning the skills of negotiation and the attainment of peace.”  

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation is proud to announce a partnership with Peace and Sport, to help build peaceful communities through the power of sport and create a safer, more equitable and inclusive world.

The objectives of the partnership are:

*Collaboration through initiatives to promote peace, social cohesion and coexistence among communities;

*Cooperation to improve living conditions for populations through MMA;

*Mutual facilitation of dialogues and communication between communities, using MMA and its values;

*Encouragement of education, training and responsibility amongst vulnerable youth, through the practice of MMA;

*Cooperation and synergy to promote, advocate and raise awareness on the power of sport for peacebuilding and diplomacy.

Pictured L to R: IMMAF Hon Pres. Vadim Finkelchtein, CEO Denisgn White, Peace & Sport Pres. Joel Bouzou & IMMAF Pres. Kerrith Brown

Peace and Sport President and Founder, Joël Bouzou, said:

“Sport, especially fighting sports demand discipline, respect of rules and of opponents. It requires determination and adaptability. For the last 12 years now, we have been committed to fight for peace. We are glad to partner with the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation as mixed martial arts combined with educational programmes and youth work can help to build self-confident resilient individuals and communities and a culture of peace”

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown said:

“We, at IMMAF, are believers in the power of sport to bring people together and to transform lives. Fighting is in our DNA, and combat sports are unique in providing a structured pathway to channel these human instincts, providing a point of connection with some of the hardest-to-reach groups, including marginalised, war-torn and gang-ridden communities. MMA is a universal language recognised by youth worldwide and has proven its capacity to break boundaries and create fundamental common ground between different factions and individuals. Mastery of MMA requires personal transformation that includes the development of self-knowledge, self-discipline, honour and respect. The process of training to fight within a sporting context is an effective pathway to learning the skills of negotiation and to attaining peace.

“I welcome this partnership with Peace and Sport through which IMMAF can harness the tools of training in MMA to contribute to the mission of building peaceful communities and a safer, more equitable and inclusive world.”


‘Peace and Sport, L’Organisation pour la Paix par le Sport’ is an international, neutral and independent organization based in Monaco, which promotes peace using the power of sport. Founded in 2007 by Modern Pentathlon Olympic Medallist and World Champion Joël Bouzou, Peace and Sport enjoys the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Peace and Sport brings together and develops partnerships between the peace stakeholders (NGOs, UN Agencies, Academics), the sport environment (Olympic Family, International Federations, National Olympic Committees, Athletes) and the political decision-makers (national, regional and local) with the aim of implementing and ensuring the sustainability of field programs, maximizing the use of sport for development and peace and leading social transformation in every area of the world affected by poverty or social instability.


Founded in 2012, the purpose of IMMAF is to further the development, recognition and regulation of the sport of MMA (mixed martial arts), enabling amateur competition though the organization of national MMA federations around the world. With a seven-year track record of organizing international amateur Championships and developing the sport globally, IMMAF’s membership today includes over 100 National Federations worldwide with National Olympic Committee recognition in around 40 countries. IMMAF has advanced programmes for education and certification of MMA coaches, referees and other technical officials, as well as Youth Development. Supported by the UFC®, IMMAF is the only legitimate international governing body for MMA, working to gain sport recognition and see MMA into the Olympic Games.

Conor McGregor’s Biggest Year in MMA Coincided With Ireland’s Highest Medal Total at The IMMAF World Championships

Conor McGregor has long been known as the biggest name in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, his ascension to UFC stardom and the pinnacle of the sport played a significant role in the explosion of MMA in Ireland, influencing generations of home grown grass roots talent.

2016 was McGregor’s biggest year in MMA to date. Having been crowned undisputed UFC featherweight (145lbs) champion with a KO victory over Jose Aldo in late 2015, McGregor’s subsequent rivalry with Nick Diaz spanned two bouts in 2016 and transcended to audiences far beyond MMA. McGregor’s triumph over Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title followed in November and was arguably McGregor’s most impressive display with a second round TKO of the highly regarded Alvarez upon entering the larger weight category (155lbs).

Combining the three events in which McGregor headlined during 2016, the former two-weight UFC champion generated approximately 4.45 million pay-per-view buys across UFC 196, UFC 202 and UFC 205, his highest total within a single year (not including the 2017 “Money Fight” foray into boxing against Floyd Mayweather).

2016 – Conor McGregor meets with IMMAF president Kerrith Brown (left) and CEO Densign White (right)

Meanwhile, Irish talent development was in full swing at the grass roots level and was embodied in Ireland’s national team, under the Irish MMA Association (IMMAA), competing at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships, the premier international level of amateur MMA.

Taking place during July of 2016 in Las Vegas, one month prior to Diaz vs. McGregor 2, Team Ireland achieved a historic third place finish in the IMMAF World Championships medal table, edging out the likes of Team USA and Team UK with an overall total of 6 medals, more than any other country.

Silver medalist David Fogarty alongside 2016 gold medal winner Brayden Graham (New Zealand) and bronze medalists Josh Neale (UK) and
Fahad Abdulrazaq (Bahrain).

Team Ireland took home three bronze medals courtesy of Hughie Orourke (men’s 135lbs), Cian Cowley (170lbs) and Eoghan Drumgoole (men’s 145lbs). Three Irish standouts reach the final of their respective divisions, Nathan Kelly achieved silver in the men’s 145lb featherweight tournament while BJJ specialist David Fogarty, who also achieved prominence as Conor McGregor’s personal photographer, earned silver in the men’s flyweight (125lb) division.

Light-heavyweight prospect Matthew Sheehan (pictured above), a product of Team Ryano MMA, clinched the 2016 world title at 205lbs, winning his fifth bout of the week-long tournament with a third-round TKO stoppage over Bulgarian powerhouse Tencho Karaenev.

By lead writer: Jorden Curran

Tajikistan Amateur MMA Championship «Dushanbe Cup-2020»

TAJMMAF host National Amateur Championships at end of March without spectators in wake of Coronavirus.

As an independent national sport governing body, the Mixed Martial Arts Federation of the Republic of Tajikistan (TAJMMAF) hosted its Amateur MMA Championship under the title of “Dushanbe Cup-2020” on 28-29 March in Dushanbe city.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, in accordance with the recommendations of local government and IMMAF statement on Coronavirus, TAJMMAF held amateur MMA championship in a restricted manner only among Men 18+, and without spectators and fans at the capital level, although in Tajikistan there is not any case of Coronavirus infection.

Despite these limitations, TAJMMAF met its expectations from the talented competitors who contested with great enthusiasm, inspiration, and respect for each other, and strived to show their best skills to become a champion.

Moreover, for the further development of Amateur MMA in Tajikistan and selection of the best sportsmen for the international competitions and IMMAF world championships, in coordination with IMMAF partners, TAJMMAF is planning to organize a National Amateur MMA Championship, soon.   

It is of note that after two-and-a-half years of MMA being subject to a temporary ban in Tajikistan, on November 15, 2019 TAJMMAF obtained official accreditation from the Sports Committee of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Since then, the Mixed Martial Arts Federation of the Republic of Tajikistan, has been headquartered in the National Olympic Committee, under the presidency of Davron Juraev Muzafarovich, and has been actively operating as an independent sports federation and official representative of IMMAF in Tajikistan.

[via TAJMMAF press release]

MMA & Sport Recognition Update: Interview with IMMAF CEO Densign White

What is the current status of IMMAF’s application for sport recognition for MMA?

IMMAF first applied to the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) for recognition of MMA as a sport by the Olympic movement, back in 2016. Progress since then has been fraught with obstructions, about-turns, new demands, delays and lack of transparency. IMMAF meets all known criteria, excepting WADA (World Anti-doping Agency) signatory status – despite being compliant to the WADA Code. We have jumped through every new hoop they have asked us to. Then in 2018, we were told by a GAISF administrator that our application had been lost and we would have to reapply. After much administrative back-and-forth, our second application was formally rejected in March 2019 without adequate explanation, and we reapplied for Observer Status.

At the end of last year, GAISF wrote to its members asking them to formally communicate any objections to MMA being recognised. Although we have had many conversations with GAISF and recognised martial arts’ representatives, and know other martial arts to be obstructing our application, no issues had ever been officially raised by them.

GAISF wrote in January, this year, to inform us that they had received responses from combat sports, who they declined to name, and cited their issue with us as being “non-compatibility” – a term that had not been raised to us before.

Despite the vagueness of this accusation and GAISF’s failure to provide any further definition, we responded in February, as requested, providing an analysis of the differences and similarities between MMA and the other combat sports/ martial arts governed by GAISF Members.

We expressed our surprise at the “compatibility” issue, considering the many similarities in the rules between various recognised sports. For example: Basketball, Netball and Korfball; Tennis and Soft Tennis; Bandy and Ice Hockey among others

Furthermore, Savate, Muay Thai And Kickboxing all consist of striking the opponent with the hands and the legs, all using a boxing style ring as their field of play. Judo, Sambo and Ju-Jitsu (Ne Waza/Groundwork Discipline) are combat sports played with a gi (or kimono) where the objective is to throw, control or submit an opponent (with some differences in the pointing system).  Read my full letter here

[To support our case, we also provided a presentation defining Amateur MMA in the context of martial arts and combat sports recognised by GAISF.]

We have since received a response from GAISF with an attempt to define ‘compatibility’. Apparently, GAISF changed its statutes at some point to replace ‘rivalry’ with non-compatibility’ as grounds for rejecting new member applications. We were not informed of this, though we had already addressed GAISF’s allegation of rivalry by merging with ‘rival’ international governing body for MMA, WMMAA, in 2018. Shockingly, we discovered afterwards that WMMAA had never even applied for membership to GAISF. Now this new criterion clearly gives wider scope for abuse and discrimination without good grounds.

IMMAF was hoping for a decision to made about its Observer Status application at the GAISF Council Meeting during the SportAccord Convention. You were also hoping for the opportunity for meetings with GAISF representatives. Now the Convention has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 epidemic, what do you expect to happen next?

We don’t know when the GAISF Council meeting will happen now, but we can expect further delay in the light of the pandemic. GAISF, no doubt, has a number of other matters on its plate, such as the postponement of the Olympic Games.

What is the current status of IMMAF’s legal case against WADA (World Anti-doping Agency) ?

IMMAF has been seeking WADA Code signatory status for the past 4 years. This would not only protect our athletes from doping but also promote MMA as Code compliant, a requirement of sport recognition. However, WADA has refused our application as it requires the support of GAISF. IMMAF’s only course of action was to challenge this. We went to court earlier this year in Lausanne. The case was postponed in order to give us time to put together our witnesses. WADA asked for the case to be thrown out since the Code is due to be changing in January 2021 to allow WADA to make its own independent decisions about signatory applications, without outside influence from the Olympic or sport movement. This of course will be nice when it happens sometime next year, but there is no guarantee that this will help us.  We are still waiting for them to do what they should have already done 4-years ago.

IMMAF is extremely frustrated by the inconsistency of WADA’s decision-making process on who is accepted as a Code signatory. It has also come to my attention that WADA has accepted 3 different international federations for Taekwondo, a decision which must be influenced by GAISF since according to WADA they cannot currently make such a decision independently. This surely undermines GAISF’s arguments against MMA. While we worked hard to solve the so-called WMMAA rivalry through a merger, we have also seen two federations accepted for Rugby. Why is MMA being treated differently? The whole thing is so full of contradictions.

Meanwhile, MMA has been legalized in France under French Boxing. What is IMMAF’s relationship like with French boxing?

The development of governance of MMA in France is going well, and we are supporting them with formulating a framework for MMA. French Boxing has agreed to align its rules, regulations and standards for MMA with the international standard.

Another surprise from France, has been French Judo’s venture into offering MMA classes in its gyms. This is a dramatic turnaround from its President’s statement that MMA ‘is a haven for jihadists’ and lacks sporting values. What is your take?

Considering Judo’s actions to block acceptance of MMA at every level, this is completely hypocritical. It is also undermining of the decision of the Ministry of Sport to regulate MMA in France under boxing, a role that Judo didn’t even apply for. They have no right to teach MMA, no qualification and should leave MMA to the experts. They should be following the rules and regulations of MMA through French boxing.

So, what are IMMAF’s next steps in its battle for recognition of MMA as a sport?

We will be continuing with our legal action against WADA and will fight to the end for the result we want. Meanwhile, GAISF keep delaying on making a decision, but based on their decision we will decide our next steps.

IMMAF Announces Further Cancellation & Postponement of 2020 Championships

[London. 2 April 2020] The Board of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has announced the cancellation in 2020 of its European Open Championships and Youth World Championships, which were scheduled to take place in Italy in July and August; and also the postponement of its Asian Open Championships planned for June in Kazakhstan.

This comes on the back of the earlier board decision to postpone the 2020 IMMAF Africa Open Championships and the 2020 IMMAF Pan American Championships. 

IMMAF President Brown commented:

“In the shadow of the current global pandemic and government responses worldwide, as well as out of duty-of-care to our members, the IMMAF board has been left with no alternative but to cancel the European and Youth Championships this year.

“Meanwhile, all sports events have been banned in Kazakhstan for the present time, forcing us to stop the Asian Open in June. We will be monitoring with global situation in the hope that we can hold this event later in the year, in the run up to the World and Team Championships.

“Unfortunately, it is unlikely that our calendar will permit space for the other tournaments to be rescheduled this year and we are grateful to our host federations and event partners for their cooperation in reviewing options for applying existing agreements to 2021.

“I encourage athletes to keep training, keep drilling and studying techniques from home. This period will be a test of character and determination: We look forward to relaunching stronger and better, and meeting again in competition very soon”

The Host Federation President for Italy (FIGMMA), Saverio Longo, said:

“I fully agree with the decision taken by the President of IMMAF to postpone the MMA Championships that should have been held this summer in Rome. The health of athletes, teams and organizers is a priority and must therefore prevail over all other interests.

“But I’m sure that when this forced break is over, MMA athletes from all over the world will return to compete with even more enthusiasm and vigour because no virus or adversity can ever extinguish the fire of passion for fighting that burns inside the heart of every MMA fighter.”

Meanwhile, to support members during this time, IMMAF has launched free online, accredited coach education courses which will count towards the full IMMAF Coach Certification. This is a first initiative, to which IMMAF will be adding further online services to facilitate continued sport development through this period of self-distancing and self-isolation in many countries.