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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