CEO reveals IMMAF-WMMAA merger is ‘close’, pending approval from General Assembly

By lead writer, Jorden Curran

Densign White, chief executive of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), has revealed plans for the anticipated merger with counterpart regulatory body, the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA).

“We are very close to reaching a deal,” he explained, speaking at the November 11 press conference at the Golden Tulip hotel in Manama, Bahrain, where the 2017 IMMAF World Championships are hosted this week from November 12-19 at Khalifa Sports City Arena.

“The only way to succeed is to work together,” he added. The process of IMMAF’s application for recognition under the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF – formerly known as SportAccord) is currently hindered by the presence of a rival bid from WMMAA.

The ultimatum given was seemingly convenient for GAISF due to the body’s alleged reluctance to accept MMA, but simply put, MMA will not be given recognition while there are multiple world governing bodies in existence, rather than simply judging those which apply based on merit and suitability. Regardless, a merger will no doubt strengthen IMMAF’s Olympic ambitions.

The annual IMMAF General Assembly of members takes place on Friday, November 17. The historic decision will then be made through IMMAF’s democratic process to either accept or reject the notion of a merger.

WMMAA representatives, including president Vadim Finkelchtein, will be in attendance this week for the 2017 IMMAF World Championships – the biggest amateur MMA event in history with close to 250 competing athletes and 51 national teams registered.

On the question of whether a potential merger could affect IMMAF’s established name and branding, Mr. White explained that the decision of a name change is still in negotiation.

However, he touched on hoping to retain the ‘IMMAF’ title – the IMMAF brand is strong and well known through its history of major championship events, of which include safety protocols that raise the bar for MMA safety. IMMAF is also credited for regulatory developments within the sport and groundbreaking implementation of progression pathways and educational licensing courses for referees, judges, seconds (cutmen/cutwomen) and coaches.

IMMAF aims to achieve GAISF recognition within the next two years before progressing to target membership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). On August 10 revealed that president Kerrith Brown was now committed to taking the sport of mixed martial arts to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. As hosts, the USA – the world’s biggest MMA nation – will be granted the power to welcome five new Olympic sports.

Taking place at Khalifa Sports City Arena from 12 to 19 November, as part of Brave International Combat Week, the 2017 IMMAF World Championships are set to be the biggest event in the history of amateur MMA under IMMAF with more participants than ever before representing nations from all continents. 2017 marks the first year of the IMMAF Worlds taking place outside of Las Vegas, USA, and will be broadcast live via the Bahrain TV app – click HERE for more information.

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