IMMAF Veteran Rostem Akman Gets Second UFC Outing After Impressive Debut

Former international amateur standout Rostem Akman (6-1) will return to the UFC Octagon at the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne on Oct. 6, set to take on Australia’s own Jake Matthews (14-4) at UFC 243.

During his two-year amateur tenure from 2014 to 2016, Akman was a staple of the SMMAF Swedish national team and a global front-runner in the IMMAF middleweight rankings, winning IMMAF World Championships bronze during UFC Fight Week at Las Vegas 2016, and back-to-back IMMAF European Open gold medals in Birmingham 2015 and Prague 2016.

Akman’s pro debut saw an experienced and highly mature amateur veteran transition with ferocity, trading in his strong yet reserved tournament based style for an aggressive showcase that spanned 6 consecutive pro wins via stoppage.

At 6-0 Akman received a short notice call to step in against Russia’s Sergey Khandozokho, a veteran of 30 pro bouts. The June 1 clash in Akman’s home town of Stockholm saw Khandozokho take the contentious unanimous decision win while Akman’s performance received international plaudits for what was a thrilling UFC debut.

In contrast, Matthews continues his 6-year UFC run following a successful debut in 2014. 7-4 in the UFC (14-4 overall), Matthews was defeated in his last outing via submission (anaconda choke) at the hands of Anthony Rocco Martin.

The UFC middleweight titles will be decided in the main event of UFC 243 as Australia’s defending champion, Robert Whittaker faces interim champion Israel Adesanya in a potential fight of the year collision.

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

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By Caoilte de Barra

South Africa welcomed Amateur MMA back with the MMASA National Championship.

The tournament was held over three days, beginning on the 9th of April and concluding on the 11th of April. All three days were streamed live and can be watched back on the Alpha MMA YouTube channel. 

Both Senior, Junior and Youth Tournaments were held, the winners of each category will go on to represent South Africa at the next IMMAF event. 

Previous South Africa representatives were in action across the three days. 2018 Africa Open Gold Medalist Cassandra Le Roux was victorious in her pursuit of gold, overcoming Aneesha Mayman in the final. 

2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Africa Open Gold Medalist Peace Nguphane added another gold medal to his collection. He had a notable run of finishes during the Africa Open and was unfortunate not to continue this run in his sole World Championships appearance. His ability to finish fights was also on show at the MMASA Amateur Championships when he secured a 1st round KO/TKO over Philani Mbuyazi on the opening day of the competition.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown was pleased to see amateur MMA return to the region and hopes that there will be more competitions held in surrounding areas soon. 

Brown said: “It’s fantastic to see the expansion in traction and reach of amateur MMA in South Africa with the Nationals drawing talent from across the nation’s provinces, deepening the talent pool and broadening the range of competitive experience faced by competitors.

“MMASA has been moving from strength to strength in all areas of its administration despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic over the past year. It is exciting to see competition back underway in South Africa and we look forward to welcoming their national team at the 2021 Worlds in Kazakhstan in the autumn.”


SA NATIONAL 2021 RESULTS

FEMALE SENIOR DIVISION

STRAWWEIGHT
GOLD –
CASSANDRA LE ROUX
SILVER –
ANEESHA MAYMAN
BRONZE –
BIANCA STANDER JESSICA
BRONZE –

FLYWEIGHT

GOLD – NICOLE VAN WYK
SILVER – NADIA TERBLANCH
BRONZE –
CARLA – MARIE CARRIERE
BRONZE –

BANTAMWEIGHT
GOLD –
PEYTON LETCHER
SILVER –
MISCKA LAUBSCHER

FEATHERWEIGHT
GOLD –
DAYNE VAN WYK
SILVER – WILMARI ALBERTS

LIGHTWEIGHT
GOLD
–  DEMI-LEE VAN ZYL
SILVER – CHELESE HUBNER
BRONZE –
LONDIWE HADEBE
BRONZE –

MALE SENIOR DIVISION

STRAWWEIGHT
GOLD –
CLINT LOUW
SILVER –
TYRAL LOUW

FLYWEIGHT
GOLD –
VUYO JULA
SILVER – PHILANI SHABALALA
BRONZE – MATHYS DU RANDT

BANTAMWEIGHT
GOLD –
MPUMELELO MNGOMA
SILVER –
SIPHO MLABA
BRONZE –
SAM HOMAN

FEATHERWEIGHT
GOLD –
NATHANIAL KOMANA
SILVER –
KYLE SHAM
BRONZE –
JESSE SCHAPER
BRONZE –
SIPHO GIFT ZINTO

LIGHTWEIGHT
GOLD –
FRANCIOS MEYER
SILVER –
ALLISTAR KUNENE
BRONZE –
ABDUR RAHMAAN
BRONZE –
KEVIN PRETORIUS

WELTERWEIGHT
GOLD –
PEACE NGUPHANE
SILVER –
LESLEY JACQUELIN
BRONZE –
CHARL ADAMS
BRONZE –
SAREL DU PLESSIS

MIDDLEWEIGHT
GOLD –
KHAYA NTOMBELA
SILVER –
NKOSI MPAKATI
BRONZE –
TONY KILLIAN
BRONZE –
ESTEBAN VAN DER BERG

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
GOLD –
IRSHAD PARAK
SILVER –
QINTON MALQUENA

HEAVYWEIGHT
GOLD –
ANDILE MADLALA
SILVER –
WAYNE STRYDOM

MALE JUNIOR DIVISION

FLYWEIGHT

GOLD –TERRANCE BALELO
SILVER –
KGAUGELO MOITSHELA
BRONZE –
LUCAN BOTHA
BRONZE –
SIYANDA VILAKAZI

BANTAMWEIGHT

GOLD – TEBATSO MDELE
SILVER –
ORDAN IMMINK
BRONZE –
PHUMELELA KHOMO
BRONZE

FEATHERWEIGHT

GOLD – JASON MACKAY
SILVER –
ALEXANDROS CHRISTODOULOU
BRONZE –
AKHIL LALLMAN
BRONZE –
BENJAMIN SWARMERS

LIGHTWEIGHT

GOLD – SIBUSISO SOVENDLE
SILVER –
SABELO MAGUDULELA
BRONZE –
MHLENIPHENI SANYWENI

WELTERWEIGHT
GOLD –
CAMERON COULSON
SILVER –
DANIEL HACK
BRONZE –
DUKE JACKSON

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
GOLD – MUHAMMED MALL
SILVER – BLAYDEN LA GRANGE

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

GOLD – ALEX VAN STADEN 
SILVER – HANNES MULLER

FEMALE JUNIOR DIVISION

FLYWEIGHT 
GOLD – NICOLE VAN WYK

FEATHERWEIGHT
GOLD – DAYNE VAN WYK

LIGHTWEIGHT
GOLD – DEMI LEE VAN ZYL

YOUTH C DIVISION (12-13YEAR) FEMALE
44 KG
GOLD –
KIARA WILLEMSE

YOUTH C DIVISION (12-13YEAR) MALE
37 KG

GOLD – BHUBEZI KRUGER 
SILVER – MIKAEEL SACHOO

40 KG
GOLD – SIDNEY WHATLEY
SILVER – ZISHAAN JAPIE

44 KG
GOLD – CARLOS VISSER
SILVER – TOUFEEQ KHAN

48 KG
GOLD – DARIUS DEKKER
SILVER –
UMAR EDWARS 
BRONZE – ALBERT COETZER

62 KG
GOLD – JADEN GRAAFF 
SILVER –NATHAN RABE

68 KG 
GOLD – JUSTIN WALKER
SILVER -RYAN GOVENDER

YOUTH B DIVISION (14-15YEAR)

40/44 KG
GOLD – KAYDEN WESSON 
SILVER – TAYE DRUCHEN

48KG
GOLD – COENRAD LAMPRECHT
SILVER – CHRISTIAN SCHWEGLER

52KG 
GOLD – RJ FOURIE
SILVER – DEACON TRAY OESCHGER 

57KG
GOLD – CJ FOURIE
SILVER – ZISHAAN JAPIE 
BRONZE – LIAM SCHWEGLER
BRONZE – JACQUES KHUN 

62KG
GOLD – REESE LAGESEN 
SILVER – SCHALK KRUGER

72KG
GOLD – DILLAN VAN GRAAN 
SILVER – VOUGHN PRETORIUS

.+72KG
GOLD – BJORN VAN TONDER 
SILVER – CORBIN HARLE 
BRONZE – DIAGO FAILLO

YOUTH A FEMALE DIVISION (16-17YEAR)

FLYWEIGHT 
GOLD – KYLA MEYER
SILVER – LISA JANSE VAN RENSBURG

BANTAMWEIGHT
GOLD – CARISSA BOTHA 
SILVER – AMY MORGAN OESCHA

FEATHERWEIGHT
GOLD – LALIQUE VAN LOGGENREN
SILVER – MICHAELA PIETERSE

LIGHTWEIGHT 
GOLD – LALIQUE VAN LOGGENREN
SILVER – DOMINIQUE HARTMAN

YOUTH A MALE DIVISION (16-17YEAR)

BANTAMWEIGHT
GOLD – NICO VAN DER MERWE 
SILVER – BANELE NXUMALO
BRONZE – BENNIE FOURIE

FEATHERWEIGHT
GOLD – BANELE NXUMALO 
SILVER – KENNETH GOLDEN

LIGHTWEIGHT 
GOLD – MATTHEW COETZEE 
SILVER – ANGELO CHRISTODOULOU 
BRONZE – LUMAY VAN DER WALTSLEBEN 
BRONZE – EMRICK HERMAN

WELTERWEIGHT 
GOLD – ANDREW RETIEF 
SILVER – BRANDON DE KOCK

MIDDLEWEIGHT
GOLD – JUANDRE COXEN
SILVER – KENAN STEVENSON

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
GOLD – STEVEN ENGELSMAN

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Giving UK MMA A Voice Through EMMAA https://immaf.org/2021/04/13/giving-uk-mma-a-voice-through-emmaa/ Tue, 13 Apr 2021 09:05:34 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42433

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“We are doing it for the love of the sport”

In the first of a regular series of personal columns, Marc Goddard, IMMAF’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and President of the English Mixed Martial Arts Association (EMMAA) talks about COVID Challenges and the optimism he feels for the future of the sport in England.

Doing what we are trying to do as the English Mixed Martial Arts Association (EMMAA), is difficult enough in times of ‘normality’. Keeping this together in the last 14 months has been tough but we have kept lines of communication open. The board, myself, the people on the peripherals, the coaches, the athletes themselves, a lot of people are still trying to march on behind the scenes and do the right thing.

The situation over more than a year now has been entirely detrimental. Competitions are on hold, events are on hold, gyms are closed, some gyms aren’t going to open back up again. There’s a reality check here for a lot of people. For some it was about their leisure activity, their pastime, their hobby was put on hold. But on the other side of the coin some of these business owners, gym owners and academy owners haven’t been able to come back from this and that is tragic.

From a UK perspective, from now on, you have to be optimistic. I personally can’t look at it any other way because if you stop being optimistic you start going down the road of acceptance or being defeatist . Everybody’s circumstances are different but one of the main things we wanted to do with the English Federation was to be positive, and the people who have been around the sport for a long time will understand how it is in the UK, and England in particular.

We are over 50 clubs registered with the English Mixed Martial Arts Association now. From an educational point of view, MMA is like an inverted pyramid, its upside down in as much as the sport is still a very new, young, formative sport. I explain this to everybody. You speak to the layman in the street or in the pub and you say ‘MMA’ they haven’t got a clue, as soon as you say ‘UFC’ they understand. It’s the entity, the brand is bigger than the sport. They don’t understand what MMA is and that is because we are still a very young sport, we are still trying to grow from the bottom up when sport usually is very much structured from the top, down.

The goal for EMMAA is to gain some form of official recognition but that’s not where the journey ends. If anything, it is where it truly begins because of the unique way the sport is set up in this country. In the United States, France or Sweden, you can’t just rock up and do as you please as you can in England at present. I could set up an event next week, in a venue, call it what you like, have a mixed event, whatever rules I want, no jurisdiction, no checking, no safety, no protocols, nothing; and that’s just the way it is in this country, people need to understand that.

The recognition process for this sport is a massive journey that people don’t understand and to make that more complicated, even if we waved the magic wand and the sport of MMA was ‘recognised’, by Sport England, Department of Culture, Media and Sport, what does that mean?  Even if there is a recognised sport called MMA in the UK because of the laws of the land, there are still open issues.

I use boxing as a prime example, professional boxing is our closest relative, or amateur boxing. It is a recognised sport, it’s an olympic discipline, it’s a funded professional sport yet on the outside of that, in the UK, you have an absolute minefield of unlicensed, bare-knuckle, white collar events where people can simply do as they please.

There are people with good intentions, such as myself, the board and everyone to do with EMMAA who are working hard on behalf of MMA. We want to be able to give the sport the best possible start in this country so that in years to come, even when the sport has passed us by, the foundations have been set correctly for everything else to be built on.

I want to see EMMAA grow organically and at the right pace. We are working very hard behind the scenes to put things together, we are trying to break down the doors of bureaucracy, trying to get in front of entities like Sport England and  the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, just to let them know we are out there and that there is a collection of decent, like minded people who want to see this sport do well.

We are doing it with no funding, because we are doing it for the love of the sport. We have a duty to the sport as well, I want to make sure all the home nations are fairly and numerically represented at the IMMAF championship events.

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IMMAF hold first summit meeting with new French Boxing President Dominique Nato to discuss development of MMA in France https://immaf.org/2021/04/12/immaf-hold-first-summit-meeting-with-new-french-boxing-president-dominique-nato-to-discuss-development-of-mma-in-france/ Mon, 12 Apr 2021 10:10:37 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42419

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An IMMAF delegation including IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, IMMAF Board Member Bertrand Amoussou and IMMAF CEO Densign White, held the first meeting with newly elected President of the French Boxing Federation (FFB) Dominique Nato to discuss the ongoing evolution of MMA in France under the “French Martial Arts Federation” FMMAF. 

The FMMAF was created by the French Boxing Federation’s Executive Committee with the agreement of the General Assembly, to ensure the representation, management and coordination of MMA activities, in accordance with the provisions of the ministerial order of 31 January 2020 granting the delegation of MMA provided for in Article L. 131-14 of the Sports Code to the French Boxing Federation and in accordance with the statutes and regulations of the French Boxing Federation.

Dominique Nato

President Nato, who was joined on the conference by members of the working group tasked with the implementation of Lionel Brezhephin and Jean-Baptiste Marsaud discussed the progress of setting up the structures of FMMAF, which have been hampered by the Covid-19 crisis, and announced that a General Assembly including elections of an FMMAF Executive Committee were planned for September 2021.

Another key discussion was regarding plans for a French competition system (based on regional, then national qualifications) which would allow French teams to be selected for IMMAF Championships. President Nato, who has been a French amateur and professional champion, national trainer and national technical director in boxing, wants a system in France that is rigorous and which will select competitors who have proven talent and form and who will competing for medals. 

Above all, President Nato stressed the full commitment of the FFB to making MMA a credible and respected sport in France which would put athlete welfare first and appeal both to recreational participants and serious competitors. In conclusion, he affirmed his commitment to work hand in hand with IMMAF to ensure delivery of the mission entrusted to the French Boxing Federation by the French Ministry of sport last year.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “We were very impressed by the energy and drive of Dominique Nato and his determination to show that FFB was chosen by the Ministry for a reason – because they have all the skills, structures and ideas to take MMA in France to the next level of growth. IMMAF will work closely with the FMMAF working group to develop our sport in France and we are looking forward to welcoming French coaches, officials and athletes at our major events, hopefully by the end of 2021.”

Dominique Nato with Daouda Sow in 2008

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IMMAF to Launch International Peace Through MMA Youth Programme at Technical Seminar Week https://immaf.org/2021/04/09/immaf-to-launch-international-peace-through-mma-youth-programme-at-technical-seminar-week/ Fri, 09 Apr 2021 10:51:46 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42417

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is to launch its Peace Through MMA Youth Programme internationally during its 2021 Technical Seminar Week, with member seminar, Organising an IMMAF Youth MMA Programme – A Roadmap to Funding and Support. The session will be led by Danny Corr of IMMAF’s Peace Through MMA and Coaching Commissions.

Corr is acclaimed for his Fight to Unite youth project in Northern Ireland, a region that has seen many social and economic problems as a result of past conflict. Working with youths from all over the North of Ireland, often renowned for political division, the project boasts a hugely successful track record in providing tuition for nationally recognised Maths, English and Coaching qualifications alongside personal development for young MMA practitioners.  Research results have demonstrated the project’s ability to change how culturally divided youths perceive one another and has seen MMA based coaching courses enter A-level classrooms and create jobs in both coaching and youth sectors. The acclaimed work has received governmental support, as well as support from Laureus Support for Sport and Fight for Peace.

Since then, in partnership with Denis Rowan, best known as an expert in International Conflict Resolution through his extensive work in the Northern Ireland Peace and Political Process, Corr has been developing a cross-border “Sport for Peace” project with counterpart federation in the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA). The project will be based in Drogheda with backing from the Louth & Meath Education and Training Board.

Impressively, Fight to Unite has managed to continue its training of youths through video tutorial throughout pandemic lockdowns and to advance the facilitation of coaching placements abroad for young people who have now completed their qualifications through the programme in collaboration with global partner LLS Online.

It is through IMMAF’s Peace Through MMA Commission that Corr (as Chairman) is launching a consultancy and support programme which offers his successful blueprint to other National Federations. The roll-out forms part of IMMAF’s commitment to harnessing sport to mitigate violence and engender peace worldwide.

IMMAF’s launch event for members at Technical Seminar Week, Organising an IMMAF Youth MMA Programme – A Roadmap to Funding and Support, will outline to National Federations how they can access IMMAF’s global Peace Through MMA Youth Programme to develop similar programmes in their countries.

Danny Corr said: “The support this project has received from global funders has proven that the benefits of MMA when combined with a focused programme can be invaluable, especially during the tough times we have all faced during the pandemic. I’m honoured to be able to share this successful roadmap with the IMMAF family,”

IMMAF 2021 Technical Seminar Week runs from 19 – 23 April online. See full schedule of event listings: IMMAF | 2021 Technical Seminar Week

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Latest Cameroon MMA event shows potential in Africa https://immaf.org/2021/04/09/latest-cameroon-mma-event-shows-potential-in-africa/ Fri, 09 Apr 2021 10:45:35 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42415

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With international media attention focused on the sensational performances of the Cameroonian born UFC Heavyweight World Champion Francis Ngannou, it’s time to shine a light on the excellent work being done to develop the base of MMA in Cameroon.

Under the shrewd stewardship of Olomo Guy Bertrand, President of the IMMAF Member federation in Cameroon, the grass roots scene is thriving. 

The night before Francis Ngannou took to the UFC Octagon for his second round defeat of Stipe Miocic, the national MMA league of Cameroon organized a return to competition with CFC12 (Cameroon Fighting Championship) on March 27.  

13 fights were held at Bali Douala. Originally, the competition was scheduled to be held in Bonanjo at the post office Esplanade but due to the ongoing Covid restrictions, it was agreed that the competitions would be relocated, and held behind closed doors, to respect the measures published by the Cameroonian government to restrict the spread of the virus. 

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“We are delighted with the development of MMA in Africa and the hard work being done by our member federations in that region. Although the event in Cameroon was, unfortunately held without fans, it offered a competitive opportunity to the talented group of athletes who have been starved of events due to Covid. We are all looking forward to seeing these athletes compete at IMMAF Championships.”

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IMMAF medallists from the UK prominent on behind closed doors event https://immaf.org/2021/04/09/immaf-medallists-from-the-uk-prominent-on-behind-closed-doors-event/ Fri, 09 Apr 2021 10:39:18 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42412

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By Jake Smith

Domestic mixed martial arts returns to UK shores this weekend, with Caged Steel 25 taking place on Saturday April 10th in a behind closed doors event; featuring four former IMMAF competitors.

2016 IMMAF European Open Championships semi-finalist, Kiru Sahota steps in as a replacement to face Scott Malone in the main event of the evening. Since entering the professional game, Sahota is yet to put a foot wrong, amassing an impressive 5-0-0 record. His upcoming clash against Scotsman Malone, poses the biggest threat to Sahota’s unblemished record.

After his maiden visit to IMMAF competition at the 2016 European Open Championships, Sahota competed twice more. He was knocked out on Day 1 of the 2017 World Championships and Day 2 of the 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships.

Elsewhere on the main card, another English stand-out, Louis Lee Scott will be looking to maintain his 100% winning record on Caged Steel events when he takes on Dan Kneil in a bantamweight bout.  Throughout his 14 bout amateur tenure, Scott twice featured at IMMAF competitions. His introductory tournament was the 2018 IMMAF Junior World Championships.

Scott showed his well rounded skill set with a first round KO/TKO against Oliver Sveinsson on day one, followed by a third round triangle choke over Levi Hawkes on day two. His tournament came to an end on day three where he suffered the first defeat of his amateur career to Yury Balka of Belarus. Determined to improve on his primary tournament, Scott returned at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA European Senior & Junior Open Championships. Scott bowed out at the quarter-finals following a loss to Anatoly Zolotykh.

Following a two-year hiatus, 2015 IMMAF European Open silver medallist Warren Mason makes his long awaited return to the cage meets Robbie Brown. With 47 amateur bouts between them, this bout pits two of the most experienced amateurs ever to compete in the UK against each other in the professional ranks. While Brown makes his professional debut, Mason is searching for his first professional victory, having been beaten in March 2019 by Craig Skelton.

As is the case with many experienced amateurs, Mason competed several times in IMMAF competitions. His most successful tournament came in 2015, at the European Open, where ‘Tank’ claimed the silver medal, losing out to fellow Englishman Jake Bond in the final. Mason also featured in the 2016 IMMAF World Championships, sucomming to Fahad AbdulRazaq on the first day of the tournament.

Preparing for your professional debut, training alongside the likes of the UFC’s Lerone Murphy Bellator’s Kane Mousah is something many professionals could only dream of, but this is a reality for Muhidin Abubakar ahead of him facing Jordan Wheater.

The former UK #1 Amateur Flyweight leaves the amateur ranks as one of the most highly touted debuting professionals in the country. His relentless style and domination in fights has gradually built Abubakar a fanbase many professionals couldn’t rival- there will be many eyes on this bout.

Abubakar’s sole appearance at IMMAF was at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Amateur World Championships. After handing Russian, Shakhban Gapizov the first loss of his amateur career on the opening day of the tournament, Abubakar competed against Gani Adilserik of Kazakhstan on day 2. Adilserik ended Abubakar’s IMMAF journey by way of unanimous decision.

Caged Steel have regularly featured IMMAF alumni on their shows. Promoter Dominc Gibbs credits IMMAF for giving amateur athletes invaluable experience, he said:
“The IMMAF set up is a fantastic platform for the amateur fighters to showcase their talent in a well structured, safe environment.

“The experience and springboard it gives to amateurs is absolutely invaluable, takes them onto the pro ranks and gives them so much experience to do so, and it allows them to push their own brand as well.”

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New partnerships lay exciting foundations for amateur MMA in Poland https://immaf.org/2021/04/09/new-partnerships-lay-exciting-foundations-for-amateur-mma-in-poland/ Fri, 09 Apr 2021 10:32:23 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42410

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By Jorden Curran

Despite plans for national amateur championships having been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, national governing body MMA Poland has continued to progress on laying healthy foundations for Polish mixed martial arts, it’s legitimate development and opportunity for elite amateur talent.

The vision of MMA Poland, headed by Martin Lewandowski, has navigated hurdles to secure an exciting future, according to the organisation’s 2020 activity report, by establishing partnerships across multiple industries to secure strategic funding that will support progress of the governing body, its unique competition network, and support the Polish national team bound for international IMMAF Championships.

MMA Poland supporting partners include:

  1. Fortuna bookmaker – one of the biggest companies in Poland offering such services and the only one funding amateur MMA – strategic Sponsor of MMA Poland. 
  2. Blachy Pruszyński – Polish producer of roofing materials – Allocates fund towards MMA Poland tournaments. 
  3. Studio 306 – printing and advertising company – Provides medals, certificates, stickers and other printing services. 
  4. Kostka Transporte – Logistics and transport Company owned by Polish businessman Adam Kostka – Funding both MMA Tournaments and National Team of Poland for 2021 IMMAF tournaments. 
  5. PITBULL WEAST COAST – Clothing company providing National Team clothing and awards for athletes taking part in MMA Poland tournaments. 
  6. PT Podatki – Tax advising company which covers all costs of tax advising for MMA Poland and allocates funds on MMA Poland tournaments. 

Poland’s national amateur MMA team, including athletes such as IMMAF medallist Magdalena Czaban, attended their first national training session with coaches Amit Batra and Łukasz Zaborowski. The training session and seminar delved into deeper aspects of athletic ability with use of performance instruments to provide data, of which was forwarded to the home clubs of athletes.  

In addition, the national governing body initiated its offering of education and licensing, in order to spread unified standards of best practise and knowledge. IMMAF’s licence B (National) cutman course was hosted in Warsaw under national tutor, Vahagn Petrosyan, and welcomed 18 participants, each now certified. Also, a one-day theory and practical assessment for MMA Polska officials licencing was completed in collaboration with WCA Fight Club. Tutor Tomasz Bronder oversaw 36 experienced participants, covering all aspects of judging and refereeing. 

In the remainder of 2021 MMA Poland aims to kick of its amateur competition series with a trio of events spanning Warsaw and Lublin, in addition to providing further education and licensing for officials as well as hosting a first ever medical course to serve objectives set by the Polish Ministry of Health.

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Register for IMMAF Seminar Week: *NEW* ‘Weight Management for MMA’ https://immaf.org/2021/04/08/register-for-immaf-seminar-week-new-weight-management-for-mma/ Thu, 08 Apr 2021 13:31:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42407

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[Member Session] Evidence Based Weight Management in MMA

  • Wednesday 21 April 2021, 14:00 hrs

Following on from Monday’s public, cross-sport panel on Athlete Weight Management in Sport, an exclusive member-only session has been added to Wednesday’s schedule, delving deeper into the subject as it applies to MMA.

This second session, Evidence Based Weight Management in MMA, will examine:

  • the current evidence of the influence of weight cutting on success in amateur and professional MMA;
  • the negative physiological consequences of extreme weight cutting in MMA;
  • and how this process can be better managed by athletes, coaches and teams to support long term fighter health and performance.

There will be opportunity for questions and answers at the end.

Session speakers are:

  • Dr Carl Langan-Evans PhD ASCC SENr – Research Fellow in Applied Sport Physiology and Nutrition at Liverpool John Moores; nutrition consultant to a range of athletes including current UFC fighters.
  • Ben Crighton MSc PhD student at Liverpool John Moores University researching the effects of weight management on performance and health in sport.
  • Christopher Kirk MSc CSCS Lecturer of Sport and Exercise Physiology at Sheffield Hallam University; PhD student at Liverpool John Moores University, researching the development of a performance coaching framework for MMA.

Information about how to register for all Seminar Week events is being emailed out to National Federations.
See the full IMMAF Technical Seminar Week schedule listed here:
IMMAF | 2021 Technical Seminar Week

REGISTER FOR PUBLIC EVENT HERE:
Athlete Weight Management in Sport – thought leadership panel discussion

Weight-cutting is one of the biggest risks to athlete welfare in mixed martial arts but is not an issue distinct to MMA, impacting a range of mainstream sports. In this panel discussion, experts from across sport will share their experiences and learnings to promote awareness and provide recommendations for safe and effective weight management that can be practically applied by athletes, coaches and administrators.

The panel discussion will be followed by an opportunity for questions and answers.

Speakers: 

  • Paula Radcliffe MBE British Olympian, long-distance runner; previous holder of the Women’s World Marathon Record.
  • Dr. Mike LoosemoreCommonwealth Games Chief Medical Officer, Team England boxing doctor, former AIBA Medical Commission member, Safe MMA.
  • Dr. Randa Bascharon – IMMAF Medical Commission; ringside physician (Nevada State Athletic Commission, USA Boxing, IMMAF and the US National Muay Thai Association; American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians member).
  • Clint WattenbergDirector of Nutrition at the UFC Performance Institute.
  • Kerrith Brown IMMAF President and judo Olympian
  • Panel Moderator: Michele VerrokenSporting Integrity, IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant

For enquiries, contact – isobel.carnwath@immaf.org

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BRAVE marks historic half century of events https://immaf.org/2021/04/08/brave-marks-historic-half-century-of-events/ Thu, 08 Apr 2021 08:04:50 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42399

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By Caoilte de Barra

Thursday, April 1, 2021 marked history for BRAVE Combat Federation as the Bahrain based promotion celebrated its 50th event. Over the span of 50 events BRAVE CF has visited 21 countries, signing fighters from all around the world in the process. 

A focal point for BRAVE CF has been developing fighters from the beginning of their pro careers. This strategy has seen the promotion invest heavily in signing former IMMAF competitors, with many succeeding at a very high level in the promotion. 

Ireland’s Frans Mlambo is the only IMMAF alumni to challenge for a title in BRAVE CF to date. However, two-time IMMAF World Champion, Jose Torres of the USA is on track to becoming the first of the IMMAF alumni signed to BRAVE CF to secure a championship title. Torres is currently in the semi-finals of the flyweight tournament and will face Ali Bagautinov next. 

Former IMMAF World Champions Muhammad Mokaev (England) and Murtaza Talha Ali (Bahrain) recently joined Torres and many others to sign with the promotion. Mokaev and Ali are both undefeated as both amateur and pro with each their BRAVE CF record’s standing at 3-0.

The 50th event under the Brave banner was a treat for fight fans as 16 bouts took place on a card headlined by 175lb title fight. The historic night set promotional history as 2017 IMMAF European Champion Anton Turkalj scored the fastest KO in BRAVE CF. The Swede made quick work of his opponent inside 13 seconds via a sweet spinning backfist KO. 

Early on the fight card, 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA World Champion Abdulmanap Magomedov (Bahrain) put on a phenomenal performance but was on the wrong side of the decision against Glenn McVeigh. Magomedov had the upper hand in the wrestling department but was unable to capitalise on dominant positions enough for the judges to give him the fight. 

Bulgarian Top Team teammates Yann Liasse and Issa Isakov were both on the card but were unsuccessful in their efforts. Both coincidentally medalled in the same weight class at the 2018 IMMAF European Open Championships. 

Bronze medalist Liasse suffered the first loss of his pro career to an undefeated Magomed Magomedov. The Luxembourgish fighter put in a valiant effort but it was Magomedov’s wrestling that secured the win. Silver Medalist Isakov, who represented Belgium, was unfortunate not to win a highly competitive fight with the experienced German fighter Mohamed Grabinski. 

2016 IMMAF World Champion Shoaib Yousaf (UK) was also in action and able to secure a win on the night. Yousaf entered this bout coming off a loss and got forced to dig deep in the latter rounds in particular. His experience was on full display in this fight as he edged Steven Gonclaves to get the nod on the judge’s scorecards. The Featherweight fighter is now 2-1 in the promotion with his eyes firmly set on the top of the division. 

Fighting wasn’t all we saw from the IMMAF alumni. 2014 and 2015 IMMAF World Champion Jose Torres got to show off his ability to work the commentary desk a week after his bout. He joined the broadcast and even called the fight that decided his next foe. 

The 50th event capped off a quartet of events that took place at Arad Fort. Over the four events, 15 former IMMAF competitors featured, drawing prominence to the strides made by BRAVE CF to promote the talent coming out of IMMAF competition.

Watch here – https://twitter.com/bravemmaf

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented: “BRAVE Combat Federation can truly be proud of its achievements within the global development of the sport of MMA, having hit its 50th event across 21 different countries in just over 4 years. The committed contribution to both professional and amateur MMA of BRAVE founder and Bahrain Olympic Committee chairman, His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and President Mohammed Shahid has been staggering and made a significant impact on the growth of the sport in the Middle East, Asia and globally.”

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IMMAF US standout David Evans blazes a trail in the pros https://immaf.org/2021/04/07/immaf-us-standout-david-evans-blazes-a-trail-in-the-pros/ Wed, 07 Apr 2021 12:49:51 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42397

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By Caoilite de Barra

Some highly talented individuals have represented the US flag across a host of IMMAF competitions. No member of the USA team has more IMMAF campaigns than the up and coming David Evans (2-0), who has competed at three sets of World Championships and one European Championship. 

The ATT Evolution fighter has recently broken into the pro scene in style picking up two wins in as many fights. His success is not unexpected following a spectacular amateur career that saw him clock over 20 bouts. 

Across his multiple IMMAF bouts, he has met some impressive competition and produced results to match. His accolades include a Silver Medal at the 2016 World Championships and a Bronze medal the following year. The 27-year-old values the experience from these competitions highly as it set him up for a smooth entry to pro. 

“I think my time spent competing on the IMMAF platform has set me up well for the pro ranks, having had experience with many different styles and aspects of the sport at a high level consistently while still learning and growing in the sport was priceless.”

Evans is currently enjoying life at Featherweight in the pro ranks. His most recent bout took place at Titan FC 68 where he dominated Jason Cortez to take home a unanimous decision victory. A performance that made him dig deep and work hard for the win.

“I feel my last performance was valuable in a way that was unique to any of my fights before. Coming off a long layoff is one battle that I faced internally, however, the durability and never die mindset of my opponent caused me to dig deep in ways I haven’t felt necessary before. Dealing with that level of heart and resistance elevated me in ways I feel I’ll pull from for years to come as I continue my career. It was bloody and brutal at times and though I was on the right side of it the experience was priceless.”

Following a lengthy layoff, Evans is hoping to remain active now and has his eyes locked on becoming a world champion in the future. 

“My goal right now is to just stay actively competing and growing in the sport with my team. I of course want to be the best. I want to be a world champion, I understand that If I stay consistent with my activity, with my training, and growth as a fighter and personally. The titles and everything that comes along with it will follow suit.”

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Central American Anti-doping Initiative attracts close to 70 participants https://immaf.org/2021/04/07/central-american-anti-doping-initiative-attracts-close-to-70-participants/ Wed, 07 Apr 2021 10:01:14 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42390

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The Spanish speaking member federations of South America showed they shared IMMAF’s ongoing commitment to “Clean MMA” after organising a virtual seminar on anti-doping.

86 participants took part in the event on March 28, organised by Yariela Mendoza, President of Panama’s MMA Association (Asociación Nacional de mixed martial arts Panamá ) and hosted by Paulina de la Loza. A surgeon in her native Mexico, de la Loza also has a Master’s Degree in Public Health and is Executive Secretary of the National Anti-Doping Committee of Mexico (MEX-NADO). She also has a passion for combat sports and is a member of the Mexican Kendo team and co-founder of the support network for the development of female kendo: “Kendo girls México.”

IMMAF’s Anti-doping Manager Michele Verroken also took part in the Seminar, together with IMMAF President Kerrith Brown and Director of Development Gosha Malik. Verroken’s stressed the importance of appointing an Anti-doping officer within federations, a key role which allows regular and close communication between National Federation and NADO. 

Amongst the Seminar attendees were representatives of Panama and neighbouring countries including Guatemala, Uruguay, Mexico, Puerto Rico and others. 

The presentation covered the history of anti-doping at the Olympic Games as well as 

• The World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards

• Definition of doping

• The doping control process

• The list of prohibited substances 2021

• Authorization of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE)

• Results management

At the conclusion of the Seminar, President Kerrith Brown said: “IMMAF and all our Member Federations support the work being done by WADA and other entities on behalf of clean athletes. Although IMMAF continues to work hard to gain signatory status with WADA the fight against doping is stronger when we work closely with our federations. I know that our Anti-doping Manager Michele Verokken is a strong believer in empowering federations to fight for clean sport. I would like to thank Yariela for all her hard work to make this Seminar happen with so many participants and I hope that others come up with similar initiatives.”

Yariela Mendoza said: I would like to thank the IMMAF for all its encouragement and we continue to take small, but decisive steps, on behalf of MMA in Panama and across the American region. We are committed to developing, promoting, and spreading the healthy practice of our sport.”

View – Anti-Doping National Federation responsibilities under the 2021 WADA Code

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White Card Day: The power Peace and Sport excels in Northern Ireland https://immaf.org/2021/04/06/white-card-day-the-power-peace-and-sport-excels-in-northern-ireland/ Tue, 06 Apr 2021 19:38:57 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42383

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Since 2015 White Card Day has been an annual digital campaign marking the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, created by the Peace and Sport organisation.

In a week of championing the positive power of sport, the long-running Fight to Unite programme in Belfast is among the standout cases of peace and local sport for development from within the vast international IMMAF community. 

For years the work of Danny Corr, founder of the Ulster Amateur MMA Association (UAMMAA), has worked closely with “left-behind” youths from within politically divided areas of Belfast in Northern Ireland. The Fight to Unite programme at the ZK Dojo has a hugely successful track record in delivering GCSE maths and English tuition, coaching qualifications and personal development for young MMA practitioners, underpinned by research throughout the process that has highlighted the project’s ability to change the perception of how culturally divided youths perceive one another. The wide-reaching project has seen MMA based coaching courses enter A-level classrooms and has created jobs for new youth workers, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum. 

The acclaimed work has received governmental support, as well as support from Laureus Support for Sport and Fight for Peace.

Since then, in partnership with Denis Rowan Associates, Corr has been working to develop a cross-border “Sport for Peace” project with UAMMAA’s counterparts in the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA), which will be based in Drogheda with backing from the LMETB. Through the latter formation of IMMAF’s “Peace Through MMA Commission”, with Corr as its Chair, the international federation is now further developing the blueprint to roll out through other National Federations.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon the biggest disruption to sport within the lives of young people today and with devastating effects in many areas, limiting opportunity and participation and with significant impact upon mental health and wellbeing. Recovering from the pandemic will no doubt be at the heart of sport development projects for years to come, and during these difficult times the “Fight to Unite” has managed to continue its training of youths through video tutorial and latest reports indicate how the project has excelled in spite of unprecedented hurdles. Furthermore, plans have continued to facilitate coaching placements abroad for young people who have now completed their qualifications through the programme.

IMMAF encourage members of the MMA community to share photos of themselves holding up a White Card; the symbol of peace, positivity, inclusion and equity.

Share your White Card photos with us using the hashtags #WhiteCard and #MMAforPeace

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IMMAF gathers over 800 portraits to celebrate 2021 White Card Day https://immaf.org/2021/04/06/immaf-gathers-over-500-portraits-to-celebrate-2021-white-card-day/ Tue, 06 Apr 2021 18:31:09 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42374

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This year, with the theme “Behind every #WhiteCard, there is a story” IMMAF has collected more than 800 images from the IMMAF Family around the world to collectively measure the positive impact of amateur MMA on peace through sport.

Each year, to celebrate International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Peace and Sport invites the world to show its support for the peace movement through sport through the symbol of the White Card.

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

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown said:

“At IMMAF we believe in the power of sport to bring people together and to transform lives. As well as our partnership with Peace and Sport we have set up a Peace Through Sport Commission and are fully supportive of initiatives by our Member Federations to change lives through sport. IMMAF is fully committed to the mission of building peaceful communities and a safer, more equitable and inclusive world and are happy to do our part in support of the 2021 White Card initiative.”

ABOUT PEACE AND SPORT

‘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 has H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco as Patron. For more information, please go to www.peace-sport.org.

See below the amazing collages filled with IMMAF members from around the world sporting the White Card in support of Peace and Sport.

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IMMAF CEO comments on Council of Europe’s new recommendations on Martial Arts & Combat Sports https://immaf.org/2021/04/02/immaf-ceo-comments-on-council-of-europes-new-recommendations-on-martial-arts-combat-sports/ Fri, 02 Apr 2021 05:59:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42249

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International Mixed Martial Arts Federation CEO Densign White MBE, OLY has commended the Council of Europe’s new Recommendation to member States on “extreme martial art and combat activities”, which include MMA.

In its latest recommendation, the Council of Europe positively acknowledges the physical, mental and social benefits to participants that martial arts and combat activities can foster when practised within an “appropriate framework.” It recommends that the practise of these disciplines should be “in keeping with the requirements of existing norms with regard to the values of sport.”

The Council cites the main stake-holders responsible for safety frameworks for participants as including “governments’, (recognised) sports organisations, ad hoc bodies for the regulation of Extreme Martial Arts and Combat Activities, such as national platforms, authorities, working groups, as well as commercial organisations” and calls on their cooperation.

The recommendation replaces the earlier Recommendation R(99)11 of 1999 on the “prohibition of free fighting contests such as cage fighting.”

IMMAF representatives, CEO Densign White and Communications Director Isobel Carnwath had testified at a working group hearing for the Council of Europe review of the recommendation on 26 April 2017 in Paris.

Densign White commented:

“We are pleased with the outcome of this enquiry and concur with the recommendation that governments should further cooperation between relevant sport organisations and public authorities to improve participants’ safety in MMA, and that the international sports movement also bears responsibility. We welcome the observation that participants in a physical activity, regardless of its sport recognition status, should have the right to practise in safe and well governed conditions. 

“IMMAF has campaigned for a long time for the formal recognition of MMA from the international sports movement, which would grant us stronger authority to govern, as we share the Council’s concern for the health and safety of practitioners, including children, in an ungoverned landscape. IMMAF has well developed policies for the education of officials and coaches, Youth development programmes, talent development pathways, anti-doping, medical and concussion policies and community programmes, which have been adopted by National Federations in 114 countries globally, 48 of which are National Olympic Committee or Sports Authority recognised. We are proud of having contributed to the enquiry that led to this report and will be pleased to cooperate in furthering the implementation of these recommendations in Europe.”

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Patience and Cooperation help Austria through the dark times https://immaf.org/2021/04/02/patience-and-cooperation-help-austria-through-the-dark-times/ Fri, 02 Apr 2021 05:50:20 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42243

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By Jake Smith

For so many nations, the Covid pandemic has seriously hindered the development of amateur athletes and especially their ability to compete. Austria is no different: following two major lockdowns and with restrictions still in place, amateur athletes still can’t train or compete.

Austrian Mixed Martial Arts Federation President Fritz Trieber knows they face an uphill battle to regain momentum. Speaking to IMMAF.org he explained how restrictions have impacted progress over the last year.

“We had two major lockdowns in Austria. From mid of March 2020 till mid may 2020 all gyms were closed. Some gym owners had problems with their landlords, who insisted on getting the rent every month.

“In summer, we returned back to a normal MMA life in the gyms. We thought about making a national tournament but it was too risky. In October, there were the next restrictions, no more sparring and BJJ, from November till now all gyms are closed again.

“Fortunately, the gyms now get support from the state, but a lot of people quit and it will not be easy to get all the people back when the gyms reopen – maybe in May 2021.

Only professional fighters are allowed to train in the gyms, with testing every day.  Amateurs are not allowed to join.”

Reflecting on Austria’s time as an IMMAF member federation to date, Trieber appreciates the opportunity to develop a multi-national approach to coaching preparation and the impact it has had on the athletes.

“We are very thankful to get the support of this great organization (IMMAF). We joined the first World Championships in Vegas with a team  and since then we have been at European and World Championships nearly every year.

“The international exchange of coaches and trainers at such events is very fruitful for sport development. Joint training camps can also be organized or invitations to amateur tournaments come from other countries, which has a very positive effect on our athletes and motivates them even more.”

A key principle for IMMAF is regular cooperation amongst members as a way to better the sport as a whole. This is something the AUTMMAF have instilled in their federation since the start, working closely with Germany and more recently, Kosovo. Trieber expanded on some of the recent work Austria has conducted with neighbouring federations. He said:

“The president of MMA Kosovo, Besart Berisha once fought for the Austrian team because he has a double citizenship and there was no MMA team in Kosovo at that point.

“We helped him establish the foundation of a federation in Kosovo in 2019. Together with the president of the Albaninan MMA Federation – Arjan Rezei I held the first MMA Seminar for young interested athletes in Kosovo. It was an honour and also great fun, working together.

“MMA Kosovo is growing rapidly and we hope in the future to work together again.”

As much as Trieber is looking forward to being able to work alongside his fellow federations, due to the nature of his job, he knows not to hold out too much hope of it happening this year. “The next 12 months will still be harsh because as a molecular biologist I know this virus is not so easy to beat. Some scientists from different universities in our country are warning of another wave in October 2021. But we hope we can be in our gyms, who are for many of us a second home, from May till October – without restrictions.”

Once back to full capacity, Tribier is keen to have progression under IMMAF grading system play a key role in furthering the development of Austria’s amateur mixed martial artists.

“First we have to go back to normal, organize national championships and set up a team for the next IMMAF event.Apart from that we have to motivate far more people to sign up on the IMMAF app and take exams to progress in the grading system established by IMMAF. We try to support gyms in any way, so that when the Corona crisis ends  the sport can flourish again.”

Although times have been tough for everyone over the last twelve months, Trieber believes it is paramount people keep faith and try to take the positives out of what has been a difficult year, he said:

“We must never lose heart but always have to look ahead. It’s much easier together. And we must not forget how important health is, for athletes but also for our families. Perhaps we will all take something positive with us from this pandemic and change something for the better in terms of climate change, consumer frenzy or other problems of our time. It’s wonderful to be part of this worldwide MMA family. We will see each other again personally, I am convinced of that, but patience is also a virtue that every martial artist is familiar with.”

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IMMAF welcomes National Body – MMA Senegal https://immaf.org/2021/04/01/immaf-welcomes-national-body-mma-senegal/ Thu, 01 Apr 2021 15:33:54 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42241

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Observational membership has been approved by the IMMAF board of directors for the national governing body, MMA Senegal. 

MMA Senegal is a highly promising not-for-profit governing body that now joins the flourishing footprint of IMMAF members on the continent of Africa committed to the legitimate development of Mixed Martial Arts.    

Under the leadership of the organisation’s president, Papa Demba Kane, MMA Senegal is recognised by the Senegalese Ministry of Interior, and is connected to clubs across the capital, Dakar, amongst other regions. 

The national governing body was founded in 2012 to promote and engage people in combat sports, MMA in particular. As a former MMA competitor with over 10 years of experience working in the finance industry, Pape Demba Kane and the organisation’s directors are leading the body with valuable combined experience relating to both the sport of MMA as well as relevant avenues for further development.

For increased members and a platform for local athlete opportunity, exciting plans are in place for a supportive collaboration with the hugely popular national wrestling scene, to establish thousands of MMA licenses. 

MMA Senegal is committed to developing Mixed Martial Arts in the country by providing practitioners, especially the nation’s youth, with the ability to explore their capabilities. The organisation has developed a trained workforce including volunteers and a board of trustees that brings together diverse experience from industries including martial arts, coaching and club management, journalism and media as well as the financial sector.

MMA Senegal president, Papa Demba Kane, commented: “All the staff and I are very happy to be part of this international body, the IMMAF. On behalf of the entire board of directors I would like to thank IMMAF. This will give us more legitimacy to participate, teach and train MMA in Senegal. Senegalese youth are very dynamic and very athletic, and this will open up more possibilities for them to express their positive energies which will constitute development for the Ministry of Sport in Senegal and will undoubtedly put provisions in place for the success and a definitive membership of Senegalese MMA at the international level.”

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Aussie MMA prospect believes the IMMAF experience offers a vital reality check https://immaf.org/2021/03/30/aussie-mma-prospect-believes-the-immaf-experience-offers-a-vital-reality-check/ Tue, 30 Mar 2021 15:03:07 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42222

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By Jorden Curran

Like many of the worldwide prospects who represent their nation on the international IMMAF platform, Loni Doyle Filimoehala is a national amateur MMA champion who had been on a roll for two years after coming into his stride in the Australian domestic scene. He then made his IMMAF debut at the 2019 IMMAF World Championships, representing the Australian national team.

Over the years many IMMAF alumni have recalled the education they received, seeing how their talent as a top national prospect stacked up against the ability and style of athletes from the rest of the world. Whether the experience resulted in triumph or defeat, those who get a taste of the premier amateur platform left knowing a great deal more about themselves as athletes and how they need to progress moving forward.   

“In 2019 I competed against the eventual world silver medallist, Yusup Magomedov,” Loni recalled. “Coming to the Worlds in 2019, I expected to run straight through everybody. I lost on the first day of the tournament.” 

“But I knew that wasn’t my last fight under the IMMAF,” he added. “In that bout I got to experience what it was like to compete with the World’s elites. Being at the IMMAF  Worlds, I got to witness with my own eyes what a world champion looks like. I’ve made friends from all over the world: people like Ryan Spillane from Ireland, Yusup Magomedov from Dagestan and Hazem Kaylil from Jordan.”

The 24-year-old middleweight continued to chase progress at the international level, his next outing came with the national team on home soil at the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open in Palm Beach, Australia. Loni earned the silver medal, besting French Polynesia’s Michael Lisan by unanimous decision before being edged on the scorecards by New Zealand’s Hakaraia Wilson in the tournament final. In December of 2020 Loni was back competing on the national circuit and it took just 30 seconds for the international veteran to score a right-hand KO win. 

“I would’ve turned pro already if I hadn’t found IMMAF,” Loni added. “After losing to the word silver medallist it has been my number-one goal to become IMMAF world champion. I believe IMMAF is a great pathway for young fighters, it has changed my life for the better, my goals are now bigger goals. Over here in Australia I’ve tried to convince many fighters to join the national team! I truly believe IMMAF events are where the best talent is and when I go pro, I want everyone to know that I’m an IMMAF athlete.”

Having now started his tenure as an international contender, Lino has had his first taste of the world’s elite. He now looks forward to building on the experience, and furthermore, is now working with Australia’s national MMA governing body, IMMAFA, and its president Richie Cranny, to establish a national athlete’s commission to facilitate a platform to give a voice and open opportunities to Aussie MMA talent.  

“I would like to compete at every IMMAF tournament this year, representing my country and my favourite sport in the best way I can!”The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has confirmed its finalised Championships schedule for 2021, following a board meeting on 17 March – full details HERE.

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Former Agency Olympic chief says IMMAF Young Journalists competition is an “amazing opportunity.” https://immaf.org/2021/03/29/former-agency-olympic-chief-says-immaf-young-journalists-competition-is-an-amazing-opportunity/ Mon, 29 Mar 2021 10:20:05 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42215

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By Jake Smith

The IMMAF Young MMA Journalists competition is an ‘amazing opportunity for young reporters from around the world to learn from seasoned professionals and cut their teeth on site at a major international sports event”, said the former head of Associated Press’ Olympic service Steve Wilson.

The two winners will be given the opportunity to cover the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, under the guidance and mentorship of Wilson- a highly experienced and respected sports journalist who is now also acting Chairman of IMMAF’s Marketing and Communications’ Commission.

Throughout his illustrious career, Wilson has covered some of the biggest sporting events on the globe. He reflected on his introduction into sports reporting and how covering a lower level sports team to begin with, helped his career. He said:

“I began covering sports during my first year at university. I attended Tufts University outside Boston and began my journalism career working on the Tufts Observer, the campus weekly paper. I started out covering the women’s field hockey and women’s tennis teams.

“This was a great experience because I had to learn to make the stories interesting and not just a list of the results. My work paid off when the women’s hockey coach trusted me to the point that one day she dropped a huge story on me – she was about to file a sex discrimination lawsuit against the university. I had a front-page story that week and that launched my career into news reporting as well as sports reporting.”

As part of his role within the International Olympic Committee, Wilson is a mentor for the International Olympic Committee Young Reporters’ Programme meaning he sees, first hand, the development of young journalists.

“Being a mentor in the IOC Young Reporters’ Programme has given me so much satisfaction to see how the young reporters learn and develop and move into professional media careers. It has proven to be a life-changing experience for many of the young reporters. I feel very proud to see them succeed.”

In a commitment to help develop the talent outside of the cage, as well as inside the cage, the competition will be run annually. Wilson sees this as a big statement of intent from IMMAF. He said: “I see this as a definite commitment of the IMMAF to engage with young people and encourage young journalists to follow and cover the sport. Amateur MMA is a young and fast-growing sport.

“It is the perfect sport for young journalists to cover and deliver content to a young generation of fans.

“The competition is important because it will help promote Amateur MMA as well as help develop young media members. It is a win-win situation.”

Having been at the top of the sports reporting landscape for many years, Wilson is always keen to offer advice to the next generation of journalists. He explained what he believes it takes to make it in the industry. 

“I have covered major sports and news events all over the world in my career. I feel so lucky to have been able to travel the world and experience different cultures and ways of life – all while pursuing my passion for reporting and writing. If there is one piece of advice I would give to a young journalist, it would be this: Stay the course. It’s hard work. It may not happen overnight. It takes commitment and determination. Be passionate. The breakthroughs and successes will come.

The competition closes on March 31st. For more information head over to the competition page link.

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IMMAF launches Internship and Volunteer programmes https://immaf.org/2021/03/26/immaf-launches-internship-and-volunteer-programmes/ Fri, 26 Mar 2021 17:05:59 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42188

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IMMAF is pleased to launch two new programmes which open access to internship vacancies within the organisation as well as volunteer opportunities to support IMMAF and contribute to the success of IMMAF events, which start up again this summer.

IMMAF CEO Densign White said of the IMMAF Internship programme: “The rapid growth of IMMAF in a changing world means the time is right to enhance our team with new interns who can provide fresh insights and perspectives. IMMAF wants to give these individuals, who may be studying or looking for a career change, the opportunity to gain experience of the sport industry, carry out challenging work assignments and immerse themselves in the exciting world of MMA.”

The IMMAF Internship programme will offer opportunities to work with one or multiple departments and will be open to students and other individuals around the world.

The Internships will range from 2 months to 12 months and demand a minimum commitment of 20hrs per week. The Programme runs throughout the year, and opportunities will be posted here.

Volunteer Programme

The IMMAF volunteer programme will not have fixed timelines and will allow successful applicants to contribute to the success of IMMAF’s flagship events and the legacy of the sport of MMA.

The programme runs throughout the year, with opportunities both with IMMAF departments and IMMAF’s events/championships, which will be posted here.

Densign White concluded: “We set up these programmes because most of IMMAF’s core staff started out as volunteers and understand the value and importance of this pathway. The staff will do everything to make the experience worthwhile for successful applicants.”

There will be a dedicated session on 23rd April during the IMMAF Technical Seminar week to provide a more detailed overview of the new programmes.

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New President El Zorro Marroquin guiding Mexico to next level https://immaf.org/2021/03/26/new-president-el-zorro-marroquin-guiding-mexico-to-next-level/ Fri, 26 Mar 2021 16:43:45 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42199

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By Caoilte de Barra

Since debuting at the 2017 IMMAF European Open, Mexico has come a long way as a nation. Jonathan Ortega was the representative who had the honour of creating history and won the nation’s debut in IMMAF. Fast forward to the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships and Mexico walked away with 2 senior medals and 3 junior medals. 

The first quarter of 2021 has seen some of the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA competitors turn to the pro ranks. World bronze medalists Christian Torres and Daniela Hernandez were amongst those that turned pro. Both made their professional bow on a regional show called Naciones MMA 1, each scoring a submission victory to kickstart their pro career.

Ahead of a big 2021 on the amateur circuit, newly appointed president Ubaldo El Zorro Marroquin has high ambitions for the federation. The promotion of the sport amongst youths and adults along with the health benefits a focal point. 

El Zoro Marroquin with Ana Guevara (Mexican sport legend and head of CONADE)

He told IMMAF.org: “To promote and spread the practice of mixed martial arts as a way of training and discipline for children, young people and adults and to make known in our country the physical and mental benefits that come with the practice of mixed martial arts, so that families have the confidence that their children can practice it since our sport is a regulated sport and has the necessary safety measures for proper practice.”

Marroquin also highlighted that they have a project which will open in schools and gym to assist these goals. 

“Our initial project will be the opening of schools in the community and municipal gyms so that our sport can reach people with scarce resources and in this way promote mixed martial arts and encourage healthy living, keeping them away from vices and drugs.”

National recognition of MMA federations by the government and the NOC is a vital part of the development of the sport to IMMAF. The Mexican Federation is succeeding in this area, being recognised by the highest national governing body. The federation is looking ahead as they hope to receive recognition from the Olympic Committee in the future. 

“Currently our federation is recognised by the highest governing body of sport in Mexico, the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sport (CONADE) and we also have the Unique Sport Registry (RUD) No. 1156FAB5FCFCFBD which accredits us as the highest technical body of mixed martial arts in Mexico and in the near future we will begin the process of recognition by the National Olympic Committee (NOC).”

The previously mentioned success of the nation has been rapid and will hopefully continue this year and the return of the IMMAF competitions in 2021 is something that the Mexican federation is prepared for according to Marroqui. Plans are already in place to hold events across the country so that the best talent represents the nation at the upcoming championships. 

“We are ready for Mexico to participate in the next international events, so we will be starting with a series of state, regional and National Championship selective events to form a selection with the best of our country, which will represent us in the international championships.”

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Brazilian IMMAF Alumni face off in Rio https://immaf.org/2021/03/25/brazilian-immaf-alumni-face-off-in-rio/ Thu, 25 Mar 2021 14:54:21 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42184

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By Caoilte de Barra

IMMAF medallists Brena Cardozo (3-0) and Michele Oliveira (2-0) will compete at Rio MMA Fight Night 1 on Saturday 27 March. Both women represented Brazil at amateur level and are currently thriving in the pro ranks. Not only are they both undefeated as pros, neither have yet to see a second round. 

Oliveira turned pro in 2018 following an impressive run as an amateur that saw her take home a gold medal at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships. During the tournament, two consecutive finishes in as many days lined up a semi-final bout against two-time European champion Alexandra Kovács. The Brazilian put on a dominant display to get the nod from judges, handing Kovács the only loss of her career to date. 

The final was the last time she saw an MMA bout go to the judges’ scorecards. That win rounded off her undefeated amateur career. Oliveira currently trains out of Nova Uniao and is renowned for her grappling ability. Between her two pro fights, she competed in numerous Jiu-Jitsu events. Taking home one Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medal along with a gold medal at the 2019 European IBJJF Jiu-jitsu Championship.

The BJJ black belt has finished both of her pro fights via rear-naked choke and will be looking to extend this run against Alexia Thainara on Saturday. 

Joining her on the card is Brena Cardozo, a bronze medalist at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA world championships, where she represented Bahrain, rather than Brazil.  Two consecutive wins secured a semi-final spot at the tournament. Unfortunately, Cardozo failed to fight her semi-final bout at the competition and opted to turn pro in the following months. Cardozo’s transition to the pro ranks has seen her continue the success she enjoyed as an amateur. She is now hoping to make it two wins in two weeks with another quick victory, this time over a new foe in Karina Oliveira.

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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) responds to DCMS Concussion in Sport Inquiry https://immaf.org/2021/03/24/mixed-martial-arts-mma-responds-to-dcms-concussion-in-sport-inquiry/ Wed, 24 Mar 2021 13:23:47 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42177

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Sports governing body, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), based in the United Kingdom, and the English Mixed Martial Arts Association (EMMAA), have submitted evidence online to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Inquiry into Concussion in Sport.

This follows the questioning of the BBC’s decision to broadcast MMA on its iPlayer service by the leader of the parliamentary inquiry, MP Julian Knight, and the unsubstantiated references to MMA in the first hearing.

In its submission, IMMAF has cited its pioneering work with UK based medical charity, Safe MMA, and its in-event medical protocol, which it considers unrivalled in Olympic sports. Safe MMA uniquely provides independent medical screening, injury suspensions management and the provision of medical advice and information to athletes. Its medical board and panel consist of volunteer doctors and medical professionals with no commercial connection to any governing body or event organiser. 

The governing body for amateur MMA also cited that it stands alone in combat sports in its banning head strikes for under 18s, based on reasonable age of consent. It further pointed to evidence of the positive social impact, as well as physical benefits, of training in MMA and its development of progression pathways and coaching accreditation, which have been recognised by National Olympic Committees and National Sports Authorities in forty-nine countries worldwide.

IMMAF and EMMAA’s submission expressed concern about the lack of government regulation of combat sports in the United Kingdom, citing this as a factor creating great risk to participants.

IMMAF CEO and judo Olympian, Densign White MBE, commented:

“There is no law in this country that requires participants and stakeholders of martial arts or combat sports to adhere to any minimum safety standard or to comply with any form of governance. And for as long as MMA is not officially recognized as a sport by Sport England, our power to govern or to regulate through local authorities is further undermined. It is our view, that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the health and safety of participants in sport is guaranteed, as they are the only agents with the power to do so.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, also an Olympian in judo, said:

“We believe that international sports NGOs have too much power in deciding which sports National Sports Authorities should recognise. As has been well documented in the international sports press, IMMAF has been blocked from gaining international sport recognition for, what we believe are commercial reasons, despite meeting all known governance criteria.  The ultimate impact of these politics at a grassroots level in many countries is that participants of non-recognised sports can find themselves outlawed, as they are discriminated against in accessing basic medical and professional services that should mitigate risk, thus making sports less safe. We are keen to work with the British authorities to address this.”

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Estonian MMA Urges for National Olympic Approval for Athletes to Train During COVID Lockdown https://immaf.org/2021/03/24/estonian-mma-urges-for-national-olympic-approval-for-athletes-to-train-during-covid-lockdown/ Wed, 24 Mar 2021 13:18:13 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42175

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Words by Ott Tõnissaar, Board Member – Estonian Mixed Martial Arts Federation

Pictured: Youth MMA participants at Estonian MMA club, Englas, including some who have been selected for the Estonian National Team to compete in the 2021 IMMAF Youth World Championships.

On March 11, Estonia went into lockdown due to the worsening situation with COVID-19. All gyms and indoor sporting activities were shut down, while all outdoor sporting activities were restricted to participation by two people. An exception was granted for professional sports and Estonian national teams, who have been permitted to continue their training for international level competitions. However, this right has been granted solely for sports that are recognised by the Government of Estonia under the Estonian Olympic Committee, thus excluding MMA.

Since Estonian MMA produces athletes that compete on the international stage, with three European Championship medals and two Top 10 placements at IMMAF World Championships, the Estonian Mixed Martial Arts Federation has been quick to challenge why MMA should be perceived as a lesser sport than those recognised by Estonia’s National Olympic Committee. The EMMAF has been in existence for 13 years and has 8 established clubs with around 500 practitioners and 20 coaches. Since the sport of MMA does not receive government support, we have learned to get things done by ourselves and this is the first time we have been prohibited from practising our sport.

After many pushbacks to getting our national team athletes listed by the Estonian Ministry of Culture and the National Olympic Committee, which would enable them to train, we managed to secure a meeting with the President of the Estonian Olympic Committee, Urmas Sõõrumaa, which took place yesterday [23 March 2021]. I am happy to report that the meeting was meaningful, and Sõõrumaa had many questions about MMA and the Estonian MMA Federation. We discussed the work of IMMAF and the differences between amateur and professional MMA, and youth vs. adult sport. We were able to relay how the Estonian MMA Federation has built up a national MMA scene from scratch to a level that we can be proud of today, boasting educated referees and judges, a thorough medical system, guidelines and protocol for organising competitions, youth and adult pathways and participation in international level competition. We were also able to detail the good working relationship that the EMMAF holds with IMMAF, which unifies more than 120 national federations from all over the world, 49 of which have official NOC or NSA recognition.

While our immediate-term goal is to get our national team back to the gym as soon as possible to prepare for the 2021 European and World Championships, we also see it as important to eventually be recognised by the Estonian Olympic Committee. Recognition would give our sport equal opportunity to operate in Estonia, to have nationally recognised licensed coaches, to regulate our sport better and to benefit from resources from the Estonian Government and local municipal governments.

In concluding our meeting, Sõõrumaa expressed his opinion that the Estonian Olympic Committee should be the umbrella organisation for all sports and sporting activities in Estonia, at all levels. Our follow-up meeting with him is scheduled for this Friday, 26 March 26th.

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Four IMMAF World Champions set for stacked alumni showcase at BRAVE CF 49 https://immaf.org/2021/03/24/three-immaf-world-champions-set-for-stacked-alumni-showcase-at-brave-cf-49/ Wed, 24 Mar 2021 13:00:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42171

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By Jake Smith

Brave Combat Federation returns for their 49th installment on Thursday, March 25th with a night of super fights which feature an abundance of IMMAF alumni.

In the co-main event, Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres (9-1-1) faces short notice replacement Blaine O’Driscoll (9-3-0). The 2014 & 2015 IMMAF World bantamweight champion was originally slated to face Sean Santella in a 125lbs bout, with the winner proceeding to the semi-finals of BRAVE’s flyweight tournament. The two fought in an instant classic back in September 2020 but due to the bout ending in a majority draw, they were scheduled to run it back.

With Blaine O’Driscoll stepping in on one weeks notice, the bout has been moved to a catchweight of 134lbs but the winner will still proceed to the semi-final of the tournament. 

Having made the walk twice since signing with BRAVE, Torres; who was the first two-time IMMAF World gold medallist, has already established himself as a fan favourite and a major talent to the flyweight division and will be looking to further establish this with an impressive victory over O’Driscoll.

Elsewhere on the card, two of the best ever to step into the IMMAF cage will face off in what is expected to be one of the fights of the night. Muhammad Mokaev (4-0-0) faces Abdul Hussein (7-1-0) in a flyweight clash; which will see two huge prospects meet at an early stage in their professional careers.

Mokaev joined the professional ranks in 2020 and has fought four times, with his impeccable skill set transferring to the professional game seamlessly and his unbeaten record across amateur and professional extending to a staggering 27 bouts. He meets his toughest challenge to-date in the form of Abdul Hussein. After a seven fight flawless amateur career, Hussein turned professional in 2016 and after amassing an impressive 4-0 record, was signed to BRAVE CF. Hussein lost his first bout under Brave but soon bounced back to winning ways, securing three victories from his last three.

Both men etched their names in IMMAF history with incredible success at tournaments. Mokaev was crowned IMMAF Junior World champion in 2018 & 2019, as well as a Junior European gold medal (2019). Then, in his final run in the amateur ranks, Mokaev claimed gold in the senior division at the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open.

Hussein’s major IMMAF success came in 2016, when he cruised to bantamweight gold at the IMMAF World Championships, following a equally successful European Open Championships a year prior.

The Brave 49 event carries the moniker of “Super Fights”, and that theme lasts from top to bottom with the card set to be opened by undefeated Latvian up-and-comer Matiss Zaharvos facing up against Gamzat Magomedov, another international IMMAF standout and 2017 amateur World Champion.

Based in Ireland, Zaharvos enters with a 4-0 record and will compete for the first time in 2021 after winning his last two bouts under the banner of Brave and both via stoppage. Gamzat Magomedov brings a 4-1 slate and is a four-time Brave veteran after an amateur career that culminated in a quick but decorated IMMAF tenure, first appearing for the Bahrain national team at the 2017 Africa Open where he picked up a gold medal before the wrestling specialist racked up five back-to-back wins at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, achieving gold in the treacherously deep bantamweight division.

Meanwhile, highly decorated IMMAF alumni, Sola Axel makes his professional debut on the card. The Frenchman, who competed between middleweight and welterweight during his time in the IMMAFs will make his first professional outing at 175lbs.

Axel will be looking to make a statement, having not competed since November 2019, in the IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships.

The former European and Pan American gold medallist looks to establish himself as a one to watch in the Brave welterweight division with an eye-catching performance against, Italian Kuitty Begaj.

Also on deck is 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA European Open featherweight gold medallist Abdulmanap Magomedov (1-1-0).
Former team Bahrain representative Magomedov, who competed 18 times on IMMAF platform, will meet BRAVE debutant Maksim Trokhimchuk (1-0-0). During his IMMAF tenure, Magomedev showed a dominant, yet unpredictable style, with 13 of his 15 amatuer wins coming by either decision (seven) or first round stoppage (six).

The unpredictability of Magomedov’s game is what makes the Russian such a threat to his opponents.

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Dynamic Hungarian Federation looking forward to IMMAF Events https://immaf.org/2021/03/23/dynamic-hungarian-federation-looking-forward-to-immaf-events/ Tue, 23 Mar 2021 09:58:33 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42030

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The Hungarian Mixed Martial Arts Federation HMMAF is blazing a trail as one of IMMAF’s most dynamic federations.

Despite the Covid-19 Pandemic, HMMAF worked extremely hard in 2020 to promote the sport, encourage athletes and officials and to build relationships with key players across sport and is now preparing for a return to competition in 2021 with a full schedule of events and a determination to take part in IMMAF Competitions.

Gábor Kókai, who has been HMMAF President since June 2020 said: “Last year we had a newly elected leadership team and created new goals and plans to develop the federation and promote the sport of MMA. The association has many plans for 2021. Despite ongoing Covid restrictions, we will hold the Hungarian championship qualifiers without spectators and fans – for now – but hopefully that will change. We will also continue the training of referees, which started last year, and we are steering our coaches to the IMMAF App, which includes coach education. As in 2020, we will organize a training camp in Szeged in 2021 too. But our main priority is to send competitors to IMMAF championships.

HMMAF 2021 National Event Calendar

25 Apr 2021
Amateur MMA Hungarian Championship Qualifier
Csákvár (Hungary)

5-8 Aug 2021
Training Camp in Szeged (Hungary)

15 Aug 2021 
Amateur MMA Hungarian Championship Qualifier
Ikrény Beach (Hungary)

16 Oct 2021
Amateur MMA Grappling Championship Qualifier
Jászberény (Hungary)

13 Nov 2021
Amateur MMA Hungarian Championship Round
Szeged (Hungary)

2020 – Standing up to Covid-19

Co-operation with other combat sports

HMMAF believes in making alliances with other combat sports and were happy to co-operate with Hungary’s “Karate Kombat Promotion.” HMMAF provided licensed referees and judges to work at their events as well as supervisory support.

Training camps for Athletes and Officials

Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, HMMAF organised a Summer Training Camp in 2020, providing a safe environment which fully fulfilled all compulsory pandemic regulations during training and referee education courses, where they were able to improve the level of our officials’ skills.

Fight Night

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, in accordance with the recommendations of local government, the HMMAF Amateur MMA Championship took place in Szeged, in November 2020, without spectators and fans, but were still a great success with participants.

MMA is a Sport Campaign

HMMAF was fully behind the international lobbying campaign “MMA is a sport” which aimed to educate people about the sport credentials and benefits of amateur MMA and lobby for its inclusion as a recognised sport by the international sports body GAISF. HMMAF collected signatures for Petition on “MMA is a sport” and promoted the campaign on social networks and with specially created merchandise.

With the IMMAF Event Calendar now confirmed, 2021 is shaping up to be an exciting one for amateur MMA in Hungary.

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Bahrain’s amateur alumni shine in BRAVE CF 48 https://immaf.org/2021/03/22/bahrains-amateur-alumni-shine-in-brave-cf-48/ Mon, 22 Mar 2021 19:19:22 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42006

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By Caoilte de Barra

The latest action from BRAVE CF 48: Arabian Night highlighted the elite level of talent now coming out of Bahrain, currently ranked top of the IMMAF World Team Rankings. That is no surprise when we see how their former amateur representatives are doing in the pro ranks. 

The event, which took place Thursday March 18, saw three former Bahrain fighters compete as professionals. Murtaza Talha Ali, Abbas Khan and Abdulla Alyqoob were all successful in their pursuit of victory. Their teammate Magomed Idrisov couldn’t notch up a win as his bout was cancelled. 

Two-time IMMAF World Champion Murtaza Talha Ali rounded off proceedings for the Bahrain fighters as he extended his impressive run in the pro ranks. Ali was undefeated in the amateur ranks and is still riding that momentum into the pro ranks, his record currently sits at 3-0 respectively.

Murtaza Talha Ali (left) in action at BRAVE CF 48, Photo via BRAVE CF

The highly-touted prospect outwrestled his opponent before raining down some vicious ground and pound blows forcing the referee to call a halt to the bout. He has now faced 3 much more experienced fighters in his pro career, all with a minimum of five pro fights and winning records at the time of fighting. 

Abdulla Alyqoob was the first of the trio in action. The Bahrain fighter took the fight on short notice replacing teammate Ali Yaqoob to make his pro debut. Alyqoob had seven bouts across three IMMAF competitions during his amateur career. He competed at both flyweight and bantamweight as an amateur and took a risk with this fight by stepping up to fight at a 150lb catchweight against Ramyar Luqman.

Abdulla Alyaqoob (left) at mid fight at BRAVE CF 48: Arabian Night, photo via BRAVE CF

The step-up to both pro and another weight class was no issue for him as he took home a clear cut decision victory. Long time IMMAF amateur competitor Abbas Khan was up next and looked to bounce back from a pro debut loss to fellow IMMAF alumni Yann Liasse.

Abbas Khan (left) following his victory, photo via BRAVE CF

The Bahrain based fighter had what seemed to be a tough task in facing the more experienced Omar El Dafrawy but the experience built up as an amateur made that gap in pro experience seem redundant. Khan put on a strong showing in the 165lb bout and took home the first pro win of his career. 

The collective, who all train together at KHK MMA, are continuing to show the level of fighters that are coming out of Bahrain.

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Nine days left to enter Young MMA Journalists’ Competition https://immaf.org/2021/03/22/nine-days-left-to-enter-young-mma-journalists-competition/ Mon, 22 Mar 2021 18:49:16 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42007

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There are just nine days left to enter the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF)’s Young MMA Journalists Competition, which was launched in January to an enthusiastic response and closes at midnight GMT on 31 March 2021.

Two winners are to be awarded the opportunity to report on the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan from 27 November to 4 December under the training and mentorship of a senior journalist with decades of experience in covering elite, international sport. Travel, accommodation and routine daily costs will be covered by the IMMAF.

The winners’ written and audio-visual work about the action and news around the championships will be published on official IMMAF platforms. The journalists will receive training, remotely in advance of the event as well as onsite, also with guidance from IMMAF’s communications team.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, said:

“Don’t miss out on this unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive professional training and report on amateur MMA’s largest and most prestigious event of the calendar year. IMMAF is committed to supporting the development of MMA journalists from around the world, as important actors in the development of the sport for which IMMAF was founded.”

HOW WILL THE REPORTERS BE CHOSEN?

This opportunity is open to any young person worldwide who is not a professional journalist and is 26 or under.

To enter, provide the following to isobel.carnwath@immaf.org by the following date:

  1. CV – A one-page curriculum vitae or resume detailing your education and any work experience in reporting sport and/or in operating cameras and editing material for audio-visual material.
  2. SUMMARY – A 250-word summary in English saying why you want to be part of the project and what you hope to do in your future career.
  3. EXAMPLE OF WORK – A 400-word written story in English OR a selection of edited audio-visual interviews or reports (maximum duration 3 minutes; MP4 format) which you have carried out in reporting MMA or any other sport or live news events.
  4. PUBLISHED WORK – Links or pdfs of any published works, if applicable
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA – Links to any key posts on your social channels that you feel would support your submission / illustrate your portfolio / style

The audio-visual interviews can be conducted in another language. The subject matter does not have to be MMA, but the material must have been filmed and edited by the candidate.

The event must be something you have covered in person. It cannot be an event watched on TV, but it could also be any type of interview you have carried out. Any level of MMA or sport can be covered – from school or youth to professional level.

The standard of English for the written work does not need to be perfect but must reflect your ability without significant help from anybody else.

DEADLINE

The competition opens today, 13 January 2021 and closes at midnight GMT on 31 March 2021.

Submissions will be judged by a panel of experienced journalists and media professionals from around the world.  Successful candidates will be informed of the results by the end of June 2021.

JUDGING CRITERIA

Entrants will be judged based on the quality of the submissions, their enthusiasm and long-term promise and potential.

OFFICIAL RULES (TERMS & CONDITIONS)

See Official Rules (Terms & Conditions)

ENQUIRIES

For enquiries contact isobel.carnwath@immaf.org

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IMMAF Alumni Christian Duncan continues win streak at Cage Warriors https://immaf.org/2021/03/22/immaf-alumni-christian-duncan-continues-win-streak-at-cage-warriors/ Mon, 22 Mar 2021 16:05:43 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=42003

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By Jake Smith

Of the five IMMAF alumni who competed on Cage Warriors The Trilogy 3, Christian Duncan took home the biggest win of his career while Tobias Harila has marked himself as a serious contender in the Featherweight Division.

Christian Leeroy Duncan’s perfect start to professional life continued at Cage Warriors 120, with a second round TKO victory over Will ‘Drago’ Currie, although the circumstances in which the bout was deemed over were somewhat controversial

After dropping the first round, Duncan knew he had to try something different. He opened the second round with a flying knee, catching Currie flush on the chin and backing him up against the cage. Duncan then unloaded a flurry of shots onto Currie’s head. The referee was taking a close look at the action but decided not to step in.

Seconds later, Currie appeared to be finding his way in on a double leg with Duncan still chipping away with shots. It was at that point the referee stepped in and waved the contest off, much to the despair of Will Currie, who appeared to be fit to carry on.

In his post fight interview, Duncan was happy to explain why he had delayed a while before joining the professional ranks. He credited the IMMAF platform with preparing him not only for his first professional bouts but those he will have in the years to come. He said: ‘I went to the IMMAFs, the worlds, so there you are fighting guys from all over the world and each guy you fight has a very different style.

“So, if we are taking this 5 years down the line, by the time you’re at UFC level, you’re going to be fighting these guys from around the world. If you only get used to the style where you’re from, when you go to those other regions, for example in the UFC, you’re going to need to adapt. It’s better to get the experience early so when you match up in a later game, you’re ready.”

When Tobias Harila was matched against Aidan Stephen in the first bout of his Cage Warriors contract, it was clear the promotion had big plans for the Swede. Stephen was the highest level opponent ‘Bad Intention’ has faced in the professional game. Stephen’s ground game was an area that had been highlighted as a potential stumbling block for Harila and 40 seconds into the fight, Stephen shot for a double leg. Harila immediately sprawled and ended up in a top half guard. Staying calm and collected, Harila landed some heavy ground and pound before methodically working to find some space and unloading a huge right hand onto the chin of Stephen. Harila needed just over a minute to get the job done and with that victory, he has now moved to the upper echelons of the stacked 145lb division.

Former European Open bronze medallist, Scott Pedersen‘s long awaited professional debut against fellow debutant Matthew Elliott did not end in the fashion the IMMAF medalist would have dreamt of. Elliott’s elite judo and wrestling skills came to fruition early into the bout and led to a dominating performance from Irishman Elliott. 

Meanwhile, Swedish athlete Rostem Akman’s road back to the UFC took a big knock as he dropped out of the Cage Warriors Welterweight tournament. In his first bout since being released by the UFC, Akman faced top Irish prospect, Ian Garry. In the second round, Garry pushed forward and after backed Akman up against the cage, before unleashing a monstrous head kick, which sent Akman crashing to the canvas & the fight being waved off. 

Finally, Michele Martignoni was another alumni to taste defeat, with the Italian being handed his first loss in the professional ranks by rising star, Nathan Fletcher.

Image credit: Cage Warriors/Dolly Clew

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IMMAF Board of Directors approve seven new IMMAF Member Federations https://immaf.org/2021/03/20/immaf-board-of-directors-approve-seven-new-immaf-member-federations/ Sat, 20 Mar 2021 18:54:43 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41975

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A decision packed virtual meeting of IMMAF’s Board on 17 March, concluded with a decision to recognise seven new Member Federations from three continents.

The new representatives – from Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Guyana, Malta, Senegal, Sierra Leone and St Lucia – shows that the Covid-19 crisis has not slowed the rapid global growth of IMMAF. 

In other major decisions, the final 2021 Competition Calendar was agreed, giving IMMAF Federations and athletes a road map for the long-awaited return to competition starting on 30 July, with events for all age groups catered for, climaxing in the IMMAF World Senior and Junior Championships in Nur Sultan Kazakhstan from 27 November to 4 December. https://immaf.org/2021/03/18/immaf-confirms-world-championships-2021-events/

The IMMAF Directors also approved the addition of three new members to IMMAF’s Athletes’ Commission. With one of the former commission members stepping down, Chairman Irman Smajic and his team were able to reach out successfully to MMA Legend Forrest Griffin to join the team. https://immaf.org/2021/03/19/ufc-hall-of-famer-forrest-griffin-joins-immaf-athletes-commission/

In addition, an open application process was put in motion to select two more candidates from the current generation of active IMMAF athletes, to give a stronger voice to athletes regarding policy decisions. After reviewing the applications, the IMMAF Athletes Commission requested Board approval to add Jack Corr (Northern Ireland) and Colleen Augustin (Malaysia) to the Commission which was granted.

Jack Corr (Northern Ireland) is an experienced martial artist in karate, wrestling and MMA, competing in 3 European and 3 World Championships both at Junior and Senior level, winning a bronze at the Junior European championships 2018. 

He began coaching alongside his father Danny Corr when he was a teenager and since 2017 has been active in the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF) using MMA to reach young people across NI alongside a fulltime youth worker. Jack is now a youth MMA coach and has also been an advocate for MMA as a sport at political and media events.

Colleen Augustin (Malaysia) – Colleen is an IMMAF world championships bronze medalist and an Asia Open champion. She has become a very popular figure within the Malaysia/south-east Asia region for MMA. Colleen has made several national television appearances and is an accomplished speaker and communicator.

The IMMAF Board also received updates and progress reports on the ongoing quest for recognition from the CEO Densign White, with a Governance Reform Tracker showing that virtually all recommendations made by an independent Governance expert in 2020 have now been achieved, with the goal of achieving Tier 1 Governance standards (according to standards set by the Association of Summer Olympic Sport Federations) by the end of 2021. IMMAF Communications Director Isobel Carnwath also updated the Board on the 2021 IMMAF Communications Strategy and Plan, which will be highlighted by a number of specific campaigns aimed to raise awareness of IMMAF and engage positively with external and internal stakeholders.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “This latest Board Meeting shows how hard the IMMAF teams have been working, despite the difficulties caused by the Covid crisis and we are making great progress in all areas, from members services and development to communications and governance, and with the strong support of federations and volunteers who share our passion for amateur MMA. But above all, I am excited that we will soon be able to connect again with athletes and federation staff at our events. Like the athletes, I have missed IMMAF Competitions and can’t wait to take part in live sport again.”

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UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin joins IMMAF Athletes’ Commission https://immaf.org/2021/03/19/ufc-hall-of-famer-forrest-griffin-joins-immaf-athletes-commission/ Fri, 19 Mar 2021 16:40:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41964

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UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin has accepted an invitation to join the Athletes’ Commission of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (MMA).

Forrest Griffin commented: “I believe the IMMAF’s mission is to spread the best practices and love for training and competing in MMA to as wide and diverse a group as possible, while keeping the athletes’ wellbeing at its core. The IMMAF has shown the power that MMA has to break barriers, be they geographical, socioeconomic or cultural and unite us in the most engaging sport in the world.”

IMMAF is the only legitimate, global governing body for amateur and recreational mixed martial arts, founded in 2012 to further the development, recognition and regulation of the sport, with the vision of seeing it into the Olympic Games. With a seven-year track record of organising international, nations championships and developing the sport globally, IMMAF’s membership today includes 120 National Federations worldwide with National Olympic Committee recognition in almost 50 countries. IMMAF has advanced programmes for the education and certification of MMA coaches, referees and other technical officials, as well as Youth Development and is supported by the UFC®.

The role of the IMMAF Athletes’ Commission is to ensure that an athlete viewpoint is at the heart of all policy decisions relating to competitors. Commission members are encouraged to use the platform to drive new initiatives and opportunities for MMA’s participants.

Forrest Griffin, 43, rose to prominence in 2005 as winner of the UFC’s inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, after battling through an iconic final collision against TUF rival Stephan Bonnar. Griffin went on to win the UFC light-heavyweight world championship from Quinton Jackson in 2008 following a career defining submission victory over legendary Brazilian, Mauricio Rua. Griffin announced his retirement from MMA competition in 2013 and the Hall of Fame inductee is now based in Las Vegas as Vice-President of Athlete Development at the UFC Performance Institute.

Former IMMAF heavyweight world champion and current Athletes’ Commission chairman, Irman Smajic, stated: “We are here to represent all athletes under the global IMMAF banner by connecting athletes with a platform that can give them a voice. It means a lot to have such a legend join us who can help that voice to carry further and demonstrate our commitment to link the past with the future, in order to learn and progress together.” 

Member Development Consultant and Athlete Commission Liaison, Jorden Curran, stated: “We are honoured and excited to have Forrest accept the invitation. Forrest is a veteran who has seen and done it all in his competitive career and has remained close to new developments as the sport evolves. Such unique experience can be of high value in athlete related matters and developments within IMMAF. I believe Forrest will have a highly motivating effect on our team and his interest in learning more about grass roots sport development and youth engagement is truly exciting to hear.”   

For more information on the IMMAF Athletes Commission and its members, click HERE.

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Generation Game; Shinaliyev and Adilserek embody Kazakh MMA evolution https://immaf.org/2021/03/19/generation-game-shinaliyev-and-adilserek-embody-kazakh-mma-evolution/ Fri, 19 Mar 2021 11:45:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41967

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By Jorden Curran

The nation of Kazakhstan is among the foremost regions in the world for amateur MMA. With an emphasis on youth development, the country enjoys a thriving national scene that receives strong government support and as a result is set to host the 2021 IMMAF World Championships later this year, boasting a national team ranked 3rd in the IMMAF senior world rankings and 2nd in the junior team rankings.

The 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior World Championships has been confirmed for the 27 November to 4 December in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan at Barys Arena.

Since the amalgamation of IMMAF and the WMMAA, Kazakhstan quickly became one of the most prominent forces on IMMAF’s premier amateur stage. Since then, much has been seen of Kazakh talent and many medals have been claimed under the nation’s flag, but just five years ago it was the unassuming Berik Shinaliyev (main image), who first gave the IMMAF audience a taste of Kazakhstan’s potential, as he quietly made his way to the 2016 European Open in Prague and became an instant crowd favourite.

Bringing with him a mostly stand-up repertoire, Shinaliyev used his unorthodox in-and-out skillset to elude takedowns as much as possible and puzzle his rivals. His wild savvy, spotlighted by a spinning back-kick knockout in the opening round of the men’s flyweight tournament, caught the attention of onlooking nations including Team UK, who between competition days offered some extra guidance towards passing an opponent’s guard. 

Shinaliyev earned a bronze medal in his first IMMAF outing after a submission loss to Irishman David Fogarty, and the Ireland team soon befriended their Kazakh rival. They would meet again at the 2017 European Open where Shinaliyev would get the better of Ireland’s Dylan Kennedy via a unanimous decision and would eventually claim a second European Open bronze medal upon a split-decision loss to Sanan Safarli, the eventual gold medallist.

It’s been mixed results for Shinaliyev since turning professional in 2017, but last night the 35-year-old’s tally evened to 3-3 while competing for a fifth time under the banner of prominent Kazakh MMA organisation, Octagon. 

He was joined on the same card by a product of the latest generation of talent to graduate from the IMMAF pathway, 22-year-old Gani Adilserik (pictured, above), now 2-0 after last night’s arm-bar submission triumph. 

Unlike Shinaliyev who travelled as the lone challenger of an underfunded team for his 2016 IMMAF debut, Adilserik represented the full-fledged Kazakh national team in 2018 and 2019; a national super squad of athletes, regularly among the deepest lineups of national talent with 20+ individual contenders spanning the men’s and women’s tournaments within both junior and senior ranks.

Adilserik earned the 2019 junior flyweight world title with an impressive hit list of rivals, first upsetting Muhidin Abubakar, who entered the 2019 Junior World Championships off the back of national dominance in the UK. The Kazakh hopeful went on to surpass Ireland’s Gary Rooney and stopped medal favourite Murat Ibrahimov via a belly-down arm-bar in the tournament final, foreshadowing what has since become his signature hold and securing world championships gold in one of the most competitive junior divisions.      

With home field advantage for the 2021 IMMAF World Championships, will this be the year that “best of the rest” Kazakhstan turns up the heat and leapfrogs the front runners of Bahrain and Russia, to lead the IMMAF medal table?

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IMMAF confirms World Championships & 2021 Events https://immaf.org/2021/03/18/immaf-confirms-world-championships-2021-events/ Thu, 18 Mar 2021 17:12:28 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41959

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has confirmed its finalised Championships schedule for 2021, following a board meeting on 17 March.

IMMAF will recommence its nations MMA tournaments in the summer with its 2021 Youth World Championships for 12 to 17-year-oldsfrom the 30 July to 1 August in Istanbul, Turkey.

The 2021 European Senior and Junior Open Championships is to follow between 16 and 21 August in Russia.

IMMAF’s competition year is to culminate with the 2021 Senior and Junior World Championships which has been confirmed for the 27 November to 4 December in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan at Barys Arena.

The amateur MMA governing body’s first World Teams Championships in Manama, Bahrain is being rescheduled to January 2022. Meanwhile a further event is being planned for September in Europe.

IMMAF plans to resume its full competition calendar complete with all continental tournaments in 2022 and is currently also seeking hosting rights bids for 2023.

IMMAF Championships Director, Alistair Pettitt, said:

“The unprecedented uncertainty caused by the global pandemic, the ensuing restrictions on movement and economic instability put a stop to IMMAF events in 2020, which has continued into this year. Sports entities in virtually every country have been impacted severely in the way they deliver sport and are navigating their return-to-play in a higher risk, global landscape. It is therefore greatly welcomed that we are able to resume events this year, providing a route back to competitive MMA for youth, juniors and seniors. Plans are also now firmly advancing for a full calendar of events for 2022, and the aim is, by the end of 202, to have a full menu of 2023 events for host cities to bid for.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“We are excited to finally be resuming sports competition again after a long hiatus. We hope the announcement of our finalised competition dates will give our athletes targets to focus on, with many returning from extremely challenging training environments as shaped by the pandemic. We very much look forward to reconnecting in-person with IMMAF’s international family in a few months’ time.”

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UFC GYM® India announces partnership with MMA India Federation & IMMAF to develop amateur MMA talent throughout India https://immaf.org/2021/03/17/ufc-gym-india-announces-partnership-with-mma-india-federation-immaf-to-develop-amateur-mma-talent-throughout-india/ Wed, 17 Mar 2021 16:50:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41926

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Partnership will include talent and scouting program to further develop amateur MMA

UFC GYM® India today announced a new joint partnership with the MMA India Federation, a member of IMMAF, the governing body of amateur MMA, to launch a national talent and scouting program as part of its continued efforts to develop amateur MMA throughout India. The new program will be led by IMMAF licensed coaches from the MMA India Federation, and coaches will recruit and invite amateur athletes to local UFC GYM franchises for a membership to continue their training. 

As part of this collaboration, UFC GYM India will also provide amateur athletes locations to try out for select MMA India events. 

The MMA India Federation is the governing body for amateur MMA, covering 24 states and three union territories throughout the country. This partnership will provide UFC GYM India with an unprecedented grassroots opportunity to grow the organization’s overall awareness to the nation’s more than 1.38 billion residents.

“We are honored to partner with IMMAF and UFC GYM India to launch our regional talent scouting program to help build a talented roster of amateur MMA talent that could potentially comprise India’s national amateur team for the IMMAF International Championships,” MMA India Federation President Sharif Bapu said. 

In 2017, UFC GYM announced its partnership with UFC GYM India to launch 100 gym locations throughout India by 2027, representing the largest partnership agreement in UFC GYM history.

“UFC GYM India, IMMAF and MMA India share a common vision to mentor, train and groom the next generation of MMA athletes from India,” UFC GYM India Managing Director Istayak Ansari commented. “We will be supporting the selection of amateur MMA athletes by the MMA India Federation and IMMAF, by providing membership and coaching at our select gyms across India. Our goal is to collectively help create the next generation of MMA athletes who will represent India in future professional combat sports events and hopefully UFC.”

Since debuting in 2009, UFC GYM has opened more than 170 locations and is in development in over 37 countries around the world, training a global community of more than 125,000 members.  

“We’re thrilled to support the continued development and growth of MMA throughout India, while also raising awareness for UFC GYM’s TRAIN DIFFERENT® mentality and programming for fitness enthusiasts of all ages and athletic abilities,” UFC GYM Chief Executive Officer Adam Sedlack said. “India is a burgeoning market for UFC GYM and we can’t wait to show our world-class facilities and overall fitness offerings as part of this new and amazing program.” 

Established in 2012, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is the global governing body for amateur MMA, with national representative organizations in 120 countries across five continents, with more than 45 recognized by their National Olympic Committee or Ministry of Sport.

“On behalf of IMMAF, I would like to congratulate the MMA India Federation and UFC GYM India on sealing this seminal partnership, with its huge potential to foster significant development to recreational and amateur MMA in India,” IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said. “Credit is due to the committed work and exemplary organization of MMA India, and to Istayak Ansari’s vision and support of well governed MMA and talent pathways.”

As the international governing body, IMMAF has developed the first international, unified rules, regulations and standards for amateur MMA. The organization has also developed and implemented the first internationally recognized grading systems, coaches and officials licensing systems, across IMMAF member nations. 

If a UFC GYM franchise is interested in developing a partnership with an IMMAF – affiliated national federation in another country, please contact Isobel Carnwath at isobel.carnwath@immaf.org.

If a National Federation would like to join IMMAF as a member, see information about requirements and how to apply here: IMMAF | How to Apply – Federations.

UFC GYM INDIA Director Istayak Ansari, MMA INDIA Brand Ambassador Sunil Shetty, President Sharif Bapu and Vice-president Ajay Marwah

About IMMAF
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 through 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 120 National Federations worldwide with National Olympic Committee recognition in more than 45 countries. IMMAF has advanced programs for education and certification of MMA coaches, referees and other technical officials, as well as Youth Development. Supported by UFC, IMMAF is the only legitimate international governing body for MMA, working to gain sport recognition and see MMA into the Olympic Games. For more information, visit
IMMAF.com

About MMA India Federation
Mixed Martial Arts India is the regulatory body for the sport of MMA in India. The federation is committed to the development of MMA and its athletes, working for a safe and well governed sport. MMA India sanctions some of the top fight nights and promotions in India and is a national representative of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF).

About UFC GYM®
UFC GYM® is the first major brand extension of UFC®, the world’s premier MMA organization.  In alliance with New Evolution Ventures™ (NeV), developers of many of the world’s most successful fitness brands. As the first to combine the worlds of MMA and fitness, UFC GYM’s TRAIN DIFFERENT® approach creates an atmosphere where members can see immediate results and appeals to all ages and training levels. UFC GYM is the ultimate fitness experience. The brand is not what you expect, and more than you can imagine. With 170 locations opened and over 700 currently in development, UFC GYM is revolutionizing the fitness industry. For more information, please visit
www.ufcgym.com. Follow UFC GYM at Facebook.com/UFCGYM, Twitter and Instagram: @UFCGYM. Subscribe at YouTube: www.youtube.com/UFCgym.

About UFC®
UFC® is the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization (MMA), with more than 625 million fans and 142 million social media followers. The organization produces more than 40 live events annually in some of the most prestigious arenas around the world, while broadcasting to approximately 900M TV households across more than 175 territories. UFC’s athlete roster features the world’s best MMA athletes representing more than 70 countries. The organization’s digital offerings include UFC FIGHT PASS®, one of the world’s leading streaming services for combat sports. UFC was acquired in 2016 by global entertainment, sports and content company Endeavor, along with strategic investors Silver Lake Partners and KKR. UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit
UFC.com and follow UFC at Facebook.com/UFC, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok: @UFC.

Media Contacts:
Isobel Carnwath –
isobel.carnwath@immaf.org
Ashley Fitzgerald – ashley.fitzgerald@ufcgym.com
Brian Smith –
bsmith@ufc.com

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IMMAF European Open Medalists set for Cage Warriors 122 https://immaf.org/2021/03/17/immaf-european-open-medalists-set-for-cage-warriors-122/ Wed, 17 Mar 2021 12:47:16 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41917

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By Jake Smith

IMMAF European Medalists, Tobias Harila and Michele Martignoni will both compete this Saturday, 20th March on Cage Warriors 122. The duo fight on the final night of Cage Warriors’ third installment of ‘The Trilogy’.

Many athletes struggled to compete during the COVID pandemic but Harila had an extremely active 2020, fighting three times. Following his three victories in 2020, ‘Bad Intention’ caught the attention of major European promotion, Cage Warriors.

This upcoming bout will be the first of Harila’s multi-fight Cage Warriors contract. With the promotion pitting him against Aidan Stephen, an athlete at the very top of a deeply talented Featherweight division, it shows they believe he deserves to be in the upper echelon of the division. Fans could be in for a classic striker vs. grappler match up, with Harila’s punching power transitioning successfully to the professional ranks. Meanwhile, Stephen’s dominating wrestling and ground game has resulted in six of his eight victories coming by way of submission or decision.

Harila competed in six IMMAF tournaments, taking the gold back to Sweden with him, twice. His IMMAF debut came at the 2016 World Championships, but his competition came to an end on Day 3, suffering a unanimous decision loss to eventual lightweight finalist, Ferdun Osmanov (Bulgaria).

Just two month later Harlia was back on the IMMAF stage, featuring in the 2016 All Africa Championships. Two KO/TKO victories later the Swedishman found himself on the top of the podium with his first IMMAF gold medal sitting comfortably around his neck. Harila was hoping to replicate his success two months later, at the 2016 European Open Championships. He was defeated in the opening round by Milad Ahady (UK).

In March of 2017, and after racking up another 3 amatuer victories away from the IMMAFs, Harila was back on the platform at the European Open. He made it all the way to the final, only to be on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Ferdum Osmanov, once again. His second gold came at the Asian Open Championships, where Harila showed his elite striking, finishing all of his bouts by way of punches.

In his first Cage Warriors bout, Michele Martigoni upset the applecart with a tough fought decision victory over top Bantamweight prospect Wesley Maia. At Cage Warriors 122, he will be looking to stop another prospect in their tracks when he faces Nathan Fletcher. Both men will be putting their undefeated records on the line as the winner moves one step closer to challenging for the 135lbs belt. With five first round finishes between them, viewers can expect to see a high paced, technical clash from the first bell.

Martignoni’s amateur debut came at the 2015 European Open Championships. The Italian was ousted in the opening day of the tournament by Iceland’s Bjartur Guðlaugsson. He came back to the European Championships a year later, looking to right the wrongs of his first tournament. The Italian showed monumental improvements across his game and beat David Evans (USA) on day one, then securing two dominating unanimous decision victories against Carlos Castro (USA) and Hoger Salih (Sweden). ‘The Italian Thunder’ faced one of the favourites of the competition, Swedishman, Daniel Schälander in the final. Schalander took the bout after submitting Martignoni with a North-South Choke in the last round.

After the bout, Martignoni turned to the professional ranks and is coming into this Cage Warriors show with a 6-0-0-1 record.

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5 Dream Bouts of IMMAF Alumni https://immaf.org/2021/03/16/5-dream-bouts-of-immaf-alumni/ Tue, 16 Mar 2021 09:35:14 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41821

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By Jake Smith

We are living in the age of ‘super fights’. Champions regularly switch weight categories to secure a legacy as one of greatest of all time. Bouts are taking place that, while they may not make sense in rankings, need to happen because of fan demand. The IMMAF have played host to some major amateur bouts over the years. There have been many top prospects face each other at early stages in their career. There have also been many ‘what if’ moments. ‘What would happen if these two athletes competed in the IMMAF at the same time?’, ‘What would happen if they met in the cage in the professional ranks?’ Here, we take a look at 5 dream bouts between IMMAF Alumni currently advancing through their pro careers.


Leah McCourt vs Manon Fiorot 2

McCourt and Fiorot collected gold at the IMMAF World Championships in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Before shining on the World Championships stage, both athletes first emerged as the IMMAF European Open, when McCourt earned her first international gold in 2015 ahead of Fiorot who earned the silver medal in 2017. The pair have since gone on to establish themselves as two of the biggest prospects in European MMA.

McCourt and Fiorot have met once already when, then at 1-1, McCourt welcomed Fiorot to the professional ranks, at Cage Warriors 94. After a hard fought 15 minutes, McCourt took the bout via a split decision.

This would be the last of McCourt’s Cage Warriors career, with the Northern Irish athlete opting to sign a multi-fight deal with global promotion Bellator. In her first two Bellator bouts, McCourt needed only 8 minutes to extend her winning streak to four. In February 2020, ‘The Curse’ fought in the biggest night of her MMA career so far; in a main event slot against Judith Ruis at a sold out 3 Arena Dublin.

McCourt is quickly becoming one of the biggest faces in Bellator. As her stature continues to rise, so does the level of competition and her next bout is likely to be against a title contender.

After her loss to McCourt, Fiorot took part in Extreme Fighting Championship’s (EFC) ‘The Fighter’. A show with a similar format to the UFC’s ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, in which athletes compete against each other in exhibition bouts . After an impressive performance winning the show, French national Fiorot signed with EFC and she needed only one opportunity to show her dominance in the division before she was given a world title shot against Amanda Lino. Her first world title left Fiorot wanting more and she signed with UAE Warriors, eager to show her prowess under a different promotional banner. Once again, Fiorot tore through the division, being crowned champion after three fights.

The UFC then came calling and ‘The Beast’ picked up where she left off. She shone on Fight Island with her punch perfect UFC debut turning a lot of heads and she looks set to add a third world title to her collection.


Jose Torres vs Muhammad Mokaev

This dream fight matches the first ever athlete to win back-to-back IMMAF world titles against the new kid on the block. The Legend vs The Prodigy. The USA vs the UK. Jose Torres vs Muhammad Mokaev is a contest which would excite MMA fans all over the world.

Both men showed they were a cut above their rivals in all their IMMAF competitions. Torres, a two times USA National Champion, was crowned IMMAF Bantamweight World Champion in 2014 and 2015. After his final tournament win, ‘Shorty’ turned professional in 2016 and tore through the Titan FC’s Flyweight and Bantamweight divisions, being crowned the promotion’s double champion in 2017. After defending both belts, the UFC came calling, after 2 bouts, going 1-1, Torres moved on and found a new home at Brave CF.

Mokaev also shone brightly on the IMMAF stage, taking home gold from the Junior World Championships in both 2018 and 2019, and also the 2019 Junior European Open title. Mokaev capped off his amateur tenure by adding senior gold to his collection at the 2020 Oceania Open, the last IMMAF Event before Covid-19 struck. The fanbase and hype surrounding Mokaev when he was an amateur had never been seen before on the MMA stage, with experts making comparisons between the British prospect and UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Upon the announcement of ‘The Punisher’ turning pro, he was inundated with offers from many major promotions, opting to sign with Brave. Within four months, Mokaev competed four times and got his professional career off to a flying start, securing 4 victories. 

With both athletes signed to Brave, Torres at the very top of the Flyweight division and Mokaev looking to rise through the 125lbs rankings quickly, there is the possibility of the two meeting in the not too distant future. 

Torres and Mokaev are soon to be involved in monumental bouts on Brave CF 49 when they face Sean Santella and fellow IMMAF champion, Abdul Hussein, respectively.


Murtaza Talha  vs. Anton Turkalj

Once again, here are two athletes who have previously met but have developed so much since the first the first outing that the second is very much needed!

Murtaza Talha Ali and Anton Turkalj first met in the fighting area in 2018, where the two were competing in the final of the 2018 European Open. The impressive Turkalj was on a hot win streak en route to meeting the undefeated world champion. After 3 hard fought rounds, Murtaza had his hand raised in a unanimous decision victory.

Murtaza remained the conqueror of the IMMAF 205lb ranks. In addition to winning the 2018 European Open, he took home the iMMAF world title twice, in 2017 and 2019, and most recently claimed gold at the 2020 Oceania Open. He joined the professional ranks in November of 2020, signing with Brave CF. Since signing, the Bahraini Light Heavyweight has competed twice, with overwhelming victories over Vadim Litvin & Dmitriy Krivulets.

Following the loss to Murtaza, Turkaj turned pro and has transitioned perfectly, amassing a solid 6 fight win streak. Since turning pro, the Swedish standout has stayed as active as he possibly can, most notably making the walk 4 times in 2019 and all six of his victories have come within the distance. Turkaj is back in action on Brave CF 50, where he faces Vadim Litvin, Murtaza’s debut opponent.

With the two on such similar career trajectories under the same promotional banner, there is a chance that we may see Talha Ali vs Turkalj II in 2020.


Irman Smajic vs Ryan Spillane

Heavyweights Smajic and Spillane first squared up back in 2016 at the European Open Championships, in the first round of the tournament.

‘The People’s Champ’ Smajic was too much for a young Spillane, finishing the bout after only 16 seconds of the first round with an early barrage of strikes. Smajic made it to the finals, where he suffered a defeat to Daniel Galabarov, who had also ended the 2015 campaign’s of both Spillane and Smajic, to win the previous year’s Euro title. 

Smajic went on to become the most decorated athlete in IMMAF history, twice winning the IMMAF World Championships in 2016 and 2017 and earned a second European Open silver medal in 2016 before winning the 2017 Euros at super-heavyweight, followed by taking gold at the 2017 Asia Open. Having turned professional, Smajic currently holds a perfect 3-0 record, but managing only one outing a year since 2018. With no bouts officially announced, Smajic could well be looking for his first bout of 2021.

After defeat to Smajic, Spillane fell to 2-5 and found himself on a three fight skid. The rematch almost happened 4 months later, when both competed in the 2017 IMMAF World Championships. Had Spillane bettered Lev Vins, he would have faced his Swedish rival in the final but it wasn’t to be.

After a tough few years at the elite amateur level, the young Irishman entered 2018 with a 3-8 amateur record and with a point to prove, a record to straighten, and medals to claim. 

He did just that at the 2018 European Open with a coming of age performance, fighting his way to the tournament final in Bucharest to win the gold. His semi-final performance over Matias Anttila resulted in an Omoplata submission that received nomination for the IMMAF Performance of the Year Award.  

At the historic 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships, Spillane made it to the final with further career best performances, only for his final opponent, Alexandre Chaddad, to withdraw for medical reasons after a tough semi-final, and so Spillane collected the gold. Now a proven achiever, Spillane earned his final gold medal at the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open and finished his amateur career on a high.

Spillane’s exciting style on the amateur scene caught the eye of Bellator, who have signed the young Irishman before he has even set foot in a professional fighting area. A long awaited second meet with Smajic has been on both men’s wishlist for the past few years.


Igor Glazkov vs Andreas Gustafsson

As an unexpected entry to the list, how about a catchweight bout between Igor Glazkov and Andreas Gustafsson to wet the appetite of many fans?

Igor Glazkov claimed Light Heavyweight gold at both the 2018 Junior IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships and the Senior 2019 European Open, and naturally weighs in a few pounds under the 205 limit. As a former wrestling champion of Siberia, he showed his grappling prowess and thunderous hands throughout his IMMAF competitions. Glazkov has transitioned to the professional ranks with ease and secured three impressive victories since making the move in 2019.
After establishing an impressive 5-0-0 amateur record on the swedish domestic scene, Gustafsson made his only IMMAF appearance at the 2018 Unified World Championships. After three utterly dominating decision victories and a slick first round arm bar, Gustafsson found himself in an IMMAF Middleweight final at the first time of asking. He faced Russia’s Dzhamal Medzhidov but came up short, losing out on a unanimous decision. Gustafsson turned pro in 2019 and has competed for several major promotions including Cage Warriors, Brave and most recently, KSW, where he lost only via a split-decision to go 6-1 as a pro.

With both men showing the depth of their skill-sets at professional level, having victories coming by way of strikes, submissions and decisions, who knows how a bout between this exciting duo would play out!

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From athlete to editor – how Daniel Schalander continues to follow his MMA dream https://immaf.org/2021/03/15/from-athlete-to-editor-how-daniel-schalander-continues-to-follow-his-mma-dream/ Mon, 15 Mar 2021 11:09:47 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41813

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By Caoilte de Barra

Two-time IMMAF medalist Daniel “Spiderpig” Schalander is one of the most well rounded fighters on the MMA circuit. His skills range from fighting in the arena to coverage as accredited media not to mention his general involvement with local promotions. His life could be described as the ultimate MMA experience.

Schalander is famous on the Nordic MMA scene, specifically in Sweden, a nation he represented for the first time in IMMAF competition at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships. Since then he has collected a European Open gold medal and an Asian Open bronze medal. The experience of fighting at this level is something that he describes positively for anyone who wants to progress and ultimately transition to pro. 

“Fighting in IMMAF is the perfect stepping stone towards a successful pro career in my opinion,” he began. 

“It lets you test yourself, develop and grow, as you fight the top tier amateurs in the world. The skill level at IMMAF tournaments is a lot higher than you find on the low-level pro scene and the opportunity to fight a lot, and regularly, really helps grow your mentality and skill set.”

Return to competition

Schalander has a level headed approach towards elite competition. He has been absent from IMMAF competition since 2017 due to injury and it is unlikely that we will see the All-Stars Gym fighter return to action soon. However, he has got involved in the media side of MMA so he remains closely connected to the sport.  

“Right now my main focus is on the media side of things. I have a neck injury that put me on the sidelines and as of now, I don’t have any plans to return to competition. It’s been over three years since my last fight and my life is just in such a different stage right now that I think it would be hard to restructure it again in a way that is needed to perform at my best.

“Fighting is not a game and you run a real risk of receiving permanent damage if you are not 100%. So if I’m not fully devoted to life as a professional fighter I don’t see the point for me to come back. When I was competing the only goal I had in life was to become the best fighter I could possibly be and to give myself the best opportunity of reaching that goal. Today that’s just not where I’m at mentally.”

Working in the media

Daniel’s media work is now visible on Kimura.se, where Daniel is Editor-in-Chief, as well as on MMA Viking. His journey spans over a decade, since he started by creating highlights videos in his mid-teens, then upskilling to specialise in this line of work. 

“Back when I was 15 or so I used to make MMA highlight videos. The videos became quite successful which made a lot of the Swedish media sites reach out to me to join them.

“That in turn was the start of me developing my skills in video and photography. For me, it’s really been the ultimate experience as a fan of the sport. Not many people get to experience the sport so close to the action, both literally and figuratively, as I’ve had the privilege to do.” He added.

Schalander’s progression in his media career has brought him back to IMMAF competition in recent years. This time, in a new role as the team photographer for Sweden at events in 2018 and 2019.

“Yes, I was the team photographer for the Worlds in Bahrain 2018 and the Europeans in Rome in 2019. The experience was a lot less stressful than fighting myself, and I also didn’t have to cut any weight, which is a big plus.

“It was amazing to still “be a part of the team” and to experience all the camaraderie that comes with travelling to a tournament. Even better was the fact that I knew everybody on the team from being in it myself just a few  years before.”

Schalander’s involvement with the Swedish set-up is no surprise when you realise that Schalander was the youngest photographer ever given credentials for a UFC event. This was headlined by none other than UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic. This was the Swede’s second taste of being credentialed with the UFC following his initial appearance in April that year working on general media duties for MMAViking. 

“The event was UFC on Fuel TV 5 in Nottingham, it took place in September 2012. Being there for MMAViking our main interest at the event was the UFC debuts of Gunnar Nelson and Akira Corassani.”

“As for my photography skills at that event they were pretty terrible. I’m glad to say I developed a lot in the years following and about two years later I’d say they reached a point of decent quality.”

Sweden’s strong presence in IMMAF

After being around some of the best pro and amateur fighters in the world, Schalander believes that several factors play a role in Sweden’s amateur success. Noting that the structure in Sweden makes the sport accessible for all, this has been a contributing factor in the emergence of female competitors in particular.

“In Sweden, in general, when it comes to sports we have a system that is very inclusive. There are a lot of non-profit sports associations that make sports easily accessible to all members of society. This allows many people to try many different sports to find what they are good at and enjoy doing.”

“The structure of amateur competition is also very strong in Sweden with regular national competitions, giving fighters the opportunity to fight often. Equality and women in sports are also more prevalent here than in some countries. So we see a lot of success for female Swedish athletes in all sports and that has also been true for MMA as many of the Swedish medals have been won by women.”

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Confident Scott Pedersen to make pro debut at Cage Warriors 120 https://immaf.org/2021/03/12/confident-scott-pedersen-to-make-pro-debut-at-cage-warriors-120/ Fri, 12 Mar 2021 16:48:28 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41809

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By Jake Smith

Scott ‘Denkharft’ Pedersen, the 2019 IMMAF European Open Bronze Medalist, will make his long awaited professional debut in a Featherweight bout against Matthew Elliott at Cage Warriors 120 on Thursday March 18th.

Throughout his 25 fight amateur career, Pedersen competed in three IMMAF events and held multiple regional titles. The Welshman’s introduction to the IMMAFs came in 2017, at the World Championships, where he came up short against Quitin Thomas in the opening round.

Not to be deterred, Pedersen’s next appearance on an IMMAF platform came at the 2018 European Open Championships. Already establishing himself as an athlete who is as fresh in the last minute as he is in the first, it came as no surprise when his first IMMAF victory came by way of a unanimous decision over Austrian Daniel Schordje. Pedersen bowed out in the second round to Pavel Senchenko, who went on to win Gold in the tournament. 

He returned once again at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA European Senior and Junior Open Championships for what would be his most successful tournament. After a round two TKO against Rachid Bullguchev of Belgium and a split decision over Tobias Zacho Storm of Team Denmark, Pedersen found himself in a semi-final bout against Antonio Marti. After an extremely close bout, the Welshman’s tournament landed on the wrong side of a split decision against the Spaniard, but he claimed the bronze medal in the featherweight division.

With his dominating prowess and eye catching style, Pedersen established himself as a fan favourite on the amateur scene: the 24-year-old has been steadily turning heads on his way to the professional ranks.

Last year, Pedersen made the decision to move his training to one of the most sought after gyms in Wales, Shore Mixed Martial Arts.The anticipation heading into Pedersen’s professional debut is not too dissimilar to the excitement that surrounded fellow Team Wales Alumni and team mate, Jack Shore, ahead of his professional debut.

‘Denkharft’ credits his confidence heading into the professional game, to the experiences he had competing in multiple IMMAF events. He said:

“The IMMAF platform gave me the opportunity to see all different types of looks from high level fighters across the world that’s where my confidence turning pro comes from.
“To call myself a professional is something I’ve been working towards since I was a kid. I can’t wait to walk in that area with the 4oz gloves on!”

Cage Warriors The Trilogy 3 takes place on March 18th, 19th & 20th and will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.

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IMMAF Coaches making waves in the Caribbean https://immaf.org/2021/03/12/immaf-coaches-making-waves-in-the-caribbean/ Fri, 12 Mar 2021 16:41:37 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41754

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By Jake Smith

MMA continues to grow globally and IMMAF’s Development Department  is working continuously with our National Federations to improve standards via a system of certified coaches to help produce the next generation of MMA athletes. While we have all witnessed the rise of Russian MMA dominance, and more recently Kazakhstan and Bahraini athletes coming to fruition on the global stage. But who is next? Could the Caribbean Islands be the next amateur athlete production line? In this article, we will take a closer look at the stories behind the new IMMAF certified coaches making waves in the Caribbean:


Dr Kent Bazard Bahamas

Dr Kent Bazard

Sport physician and senior house officer in Radiology, Dr Ken Bazard is the 4th Caribbean IMMAF certified coach and current BMMAF president.

After competing in Chinese Sanda for a number of years, amassing a professional record of 11-1, the sports physician was introduced to full contact fighting. In 2003, his skill set developed furthermore when he was introduced to world renowned wrestling Coach Kenny Johnson, who taught Bazard jiu jitsu fundamentals.

The Bahamas Mixed Martial Arts Federation held the inaugural Pan-American championship and Dr Bazard explained why it was so important for the region to do this: “I was very honored and proud to have hosted the first Pan-American IMMAF championships in Nassau. It was a very good event to have, something to have in the region, for regional countries because it is so hard for us usually to travel to Europe and around the world where the IMMAF have their events so it was my passion to have an IMMAF event hosted nearby, in the region, so that we can compete.”

Although things were tough during the pandemic, it has not wavered Dr Bazard’s ambition. He has his sights set firmly on continuing his progression through the IMMAF coaching levels while simultaneously continuing the growth of MMA in the region.

“I am very committed to the growth locally here in the Bahamas and around the region we have lots of support for mma in the region. Talented fighters, lots of talented coaches so I am a proud member of the IMMAF and it is a significant achievement for me to become a certified Level one coach and I will continue my studies and advance my levels in MMA and become a certified IMMAF coach in MMA.

“IMMAF has made amateur MMA very professional and has presented it in a very professional, very safe manner,” said Dr Bazard.


Renaldo Stuart and Rollins Ayene – Barbados

Dr Paul Forte & Renaldo Stuart

One of Barbados’ most decorated combat sports athletes, Renaldo Stuart, is the current Ambassador for the Barbados Mixed Martial Arts Federation while his head coach Rollins Ayene is now the first certified coach on the island. IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov believes Stuart is an excellent  fit for the ambassadorial role: “There has been a lot said about ‘a journey in martial arts’. I think today, many athletes overgrown the boundaries of their first core sport and wish to extend their journey to the whole family of combat sports and martial arts. Renaldo is a brilliant example of accomplishment and continuous personal growth. Isn’t it what the sport in general should be about?”

As has been the case with so many countries across the globe, the COVID pandemic has severely impacted the development of young athletes. Some sections of the world are starting to return to normality but this is not the case for Barbados.

With COVID restrictions still in place across the island, the BMMAF have found new ways for their athletes to train, all while sticking to COVID protocols. President of the Barbados Mixed Martial Arts Federation, Dr. Paul Forte, divulged:

“To this date, the Barbados Mixed Martial Arts Federation (BMMAF) has continued its efforts to condition the minds and bodies of its members through various unorthodox mechanisms…

“Our development is now strongly focused on individual training through the programmes offered virtually, whether through the IMMAF brand or home grown. We meet on various days at the beach, to engage in non-contact face to face training with strict Covid19 protocols in place. So far, these regular get-togethers have been important developmentally. Our athletes and coaches are mentally and emotionally motivated to further grow the sport of MMA.

“Taking full advantage of non-contact beach training and conditioning, and with strict correlated protocols in place, the BMMAF has increased these activities and started non-contact training & conditioning competitions to further provide deeper mental stimulation to athletes and coaches during this distressing time.”


Keron Bourne and Kerry Grant – Trinidad and Tobago

Keron Bourne

Keron Bourne was the first certified MMA coach in Trinidad and Tobago but brings a wealth of competitive experience with him. He has been a stand out athlete in an array of combat sports, such as Wrestling, Kickboxing, Mua-Thai and Sambo – twice placing 5th in the World Championships of the latter discipline. 

Bourne’s reasoning behind getting involved in MMA came from a desire to complete himself as an all round Mixed Martial Artist. He said: “One of the main reasons I started MMA was because I believe that a fighter must be able to fight in any position, on the ground or standing.

“MMA was the ultimate platform for me to showcase my ability to fight standing and on the ground and also open my eyes to the importance of learning different combat styles.”

The athlete turned coach runs his club, Untamed Combat Training Club, in Port-Of-Spain. Reflecting on his entry into the world of combat sport, Bourne For me, growing up it made a way out from getting involved with the wrong company. It’s also provided a platform in which it opened doors for me to travel the world, giving me the opportunity to make new life-long friends.

“It (MMA) gave me discipline, the ability to work hard and to be consistent and to play fair. These attributes groom me in becoming the man I am today.”

Musician, composer, pilot, mixed martial artist. Four words that you wouldn’t usually associate with each other… unless you’re discussing newly certified IMMAF Coach Kerry Grant, also from Trinidad and Tobago.

The multi talented athlete’s upbringing instilled his work hard attitude from an early age, with his parents driving the idea of that if he was going to do something, he should do it to the best of his ability and that once his skill level was at a place to share with others- he should do so. He explained: “My parents always told me when I’m doing something, always do it properly and to the best of my ability or do not do it at all. This stuck with me through life as I grew.

“I believe we were all placed on this earth to share our skills, no matter what they are. If you have talents, do not bury them. My attitude to life is simply this.

“Life is to live and not to exist!” 

Grant and his team gym, Southern Warriors from the mantra of ‘We Are Not Ordinary People’. He told us about the origin of  the mantra and why he felt it was important to implement it across his team. He said: “I first opened my dojo in 2004. I was young, only 24 years of age and I had teenagers as students. Most of which were not easily motivated. I had to find a solution to bring out the fire within them.

“Then one morning as I myself was working out, I found it hard to train that particular morning. I also needed motivating, but there was no one around. I had to dig deep. Motivate me and it just occurred to me that in my ordinary state of mind I would not complete my task of training that day.

“In an ordinary state of mind, I would have quit. And so this is where the ‘We are not ordinary people’ mantra was born! I began saying over and over in my head, ” I am not ordinary” until I shouted it out to myself. It worked! A new wave of powerful motivation flowed through me and I never looked back since.

“That mantra empowers my students and me daily, not just in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, but also in every aspect of our lives.”

With such amazing influencers on the islands, be ready for Caribbean fighters to start making their mark at future IMMAF Events!

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NZMMAF goes to school to showcase MMA’s physical and mental benefits https://immaf.org/2021/03/11/nzmmaf-goes-to-school-to-showcase-mmas-physical-and-mental-benefits/ Thu, 11 Mar 2021 09:00:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41721

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With a growing global awareness of bullying and depression, especially around teenagers, the NZ MMA federation has been instrumental in pushing for Mixed Martial Arts to be part of the high school physical education programme. 

A number of schools are now working with MMA to help with student fitness and overall well being. Both Matt Toa (NZ Vice President) and Terry Hill (NZMMAF President) have been instrumental in organising training programmes to help students cope and deal with the social pressures most teenagers are encountering in their lives today . 

With various structures around how to format the training procedures , the MMA educators have touched on something that is working well within the framework of education programmes. 

This starts with a disciplined approach to the training sessions, by breaking down the different components ie; stance , posture , how to move correctly as well as the basic stand up techniques and defence. From clinching, holding, throwing and takedowns the training format moves forward into the ground game, with controlling position, submissions and escapes. 

With all the various components covered, individual instructors are free to develop training formats that work best for them.  External specialist coaches can also be bought in to help move into areas that need more specific training methodology. By covering  different characteristics  in each session the students alleviate the boredom of prolonged repetition that may turn them off in a normal classroom setting . 

“The self esteem growth and physical improvements the students are subjected to, speak volumes for the positivity that MMA can have for our youth today,” said NZMMA President Terry Hill. “One parent just recently came and spoke to one of the instructors, thanking them for the training and laughing about the fact that their child loves MMA so much his enthusiasm is actually contagious. Unlike the experience of other sports, not only can you see them sweat but they are fully absorbed by what they were doing.”

To conclude, Terry said: “Our experience shows how MMA boosts health and wellbeing but also offers useful skills in self defence, which should be mandatory for all school children, just as much as learning to read and write. Where is MMA going in the future? MMA is the future! In so many special and diverse ways.”

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Mongolia MMA sets ambitious programme for growth https://immaf.org/2021/03/10/mongolia-mma-sets-ambitious-programme-for-growth/ Wed, 10 Mar 2021 14:23:39 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41733

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By Jorden Curren

Mongolia, which was recently given observation status by the IMMAF Board, is determined to move quickly as a powerhouse of Asian, and global MMA, under the guidance of a former Judoka and Diplomat Pantii Gankhuyag.

The national body was established in January 2019 to promote and develop martial arts in Mongolia and increase physical activity among the youth of the country, in line with government objectives, and to widen cooperation among domestic martial arts groups toward integration at the international level. The Association has begun a long-term four-year plan towards development of coaches and cultivation of MMA athletes to competition level.

The Association builds on sport development through seminars, workshops and training opportunities. It’s president, Pantii Gankhuyang, is tasked with leading the national body over the next 3 years and to obtaining government recognition for the sport of MMA. 

Mongolia counts on vast resources from the volunteer sector to help in national development of sport with schools, universities and student clubs often involved. The IMMAF is committed to providing technical support in building foundations for recreational participation and competitive amateur MMA. 

Pantii Gankhuyag (pictured above) is a judoka and member of the Mongolian Democratic Party, formerly a diplomat in Japan who served as Governor of the Mongolian Dornogovi Province from 2008-2016. Mr Gankhuyag has a lifelong passion for martial arts with an interested in how sport and MMA can contribute to national society. 

The national Association benefits from the experience of Olympic competitors and coaches and maintains diversity of skillsets through invitations to experts from government and developed sporting backgrounds to provide guidance for new generations.

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Anniversary of last IMMAF Event gives hope for the future https://immaf.org/2021/03/08/anniversary-of-last-immaf-event-gives-hope-for-the-future/ Mon, 08 Mar 2021 09:36:35 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41688

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By Caoilte De Barra

March 8, 2020 marked the final day of the only IMMAF event to take place before the world came to a screeching halt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia welcomed nations from around the world for the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championship and over 3 days, some of the best amateur talent in the world competed in the Gold Coast with all eyes set on taking home a gold medal. Australia took home five gold medals with Bahrain close behind with a tally of three. 

Many of the medalists are now embarking upon a new journey in the pro ranks, and some fighters have signed exclusive deals with some of the biggest MMA organizations in the world. Ireland’s Ryan Spillane and England’s Muhammad Mokaev are the best examples of this. 

SBG Cork fighter Ryan Spillane was the sole Irish representative at the Open. The 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA World Champion added another gold to his collection with a first-round TKO victory over Dane Alchin. The Irishman first debuted in IMMAF back in 2015 and this fight marked the end of an era as Spillane signed off his amateur career with a win. His success as an amateur saw him rewarded with a Bellator MMA contract, where he awaits new on his pro debut. 

Muhammad Mokaev left behind a real legacy when he signed off his amateur career with an undefeated record of 23-0. At the Gold Coast the two-time amateur Jr world champion competed in the senior ranks. He dominated Abdulla Alyaqoob in the opening bout of the competition before sealing gold by submitting Abdulla Mubarak in the final. Despite the pandemic, Mokaev stayed active and has picked up four consecutive victories as a pro in 2020. Now signed with BRAVE CF, 2016 IMMAF World Champion Abdul Hussein awaits Mokaev for his next bout. 

Australia’s Olivia Ukmar and Colby Thicknesse were two other stand outs of the competition. Ukmar is scheduled to make her pro debut next month following a successful amateur career. Four months after her 2019 World Championship fight, the 29-year-old made it two wins in as many days in high-level competition on the Gold Coast to take home her first IMMAF gold. 

Young-gun Colby Thicknesse lit up the tournament over the three days. The IMMAF debutant took on experienced competitors in his bouts. He made an instant impression with a stoppage over Ali Yaqoob in the opening round. Two consecutive decision wins rounded off the competition for the Australian representative. Since the championships, Thicknesse added to the trend of winners entering the pro ranks. He is now 1-0 as a pro following a win in the latter stages of 2020. 

The world has changed a lot since this event and the competition will go down in IMMAF history for that reason. However, it will also be remembered as a swansong for a number of IMMAF’s greatest perennial talents.
Check out the full list of results from the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships here and the medalists for each division here.

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Aussie Active Kids Programme attracts public funds to MMA https://immaf.org/2021/03/06/aussie-active-kids-programme-attracts-public-funds-to-mma/ Sat, 06 Mar 2021 09:00:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41665

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By Caolite de Barra

In New South Wales, Australia, MMA has received state funding for its “ActiveKids Programme”. This aims to get school-aged kids into sport and active recreation. IMMAF qualified coach Julian Evans has been at the forefront of this initiative. 

Under the programme, parents, guardians and carers will receive two $100 vouchers, one for each half of the year, for school enrolled children towards the cost of sports and recreation. The programme is now in its fourth year of existence which has seen 2.6 million vouchers redeemed. 

The government’s continued investment in the future of school children in sport and active recreation has led to the programme’s popularity growing in NSW. Satisfaction levels are actively tracked, with the customer satisfaction rating currently standing at an impressive 99.8%

Evans, who was involved in fitting the IMMAF Youth Policy into the New South Wales requirements, broke down how the process works:

“Generally speaking, the NSW goals are to increase children’s participation in physical activity, reduce obesity/overweight issues in children, and to overall change the physical activity and behaviours of children and young people in the state.”

“The process itself is quite streamlined now after several years of the program:

1) provide a structured program of a minimum of 8 weeks that contains moderate-intense levels of activity

2) provide personal and business details, relevant insurance, details of the activity

3) have appropriate accreditation for higher-risk activities and also Working with Children Check clearance”

The timing of the program has come at a crucial moment, where it can help kickstart sporting participation. MMA is growing rapidly in Australia, where activities in amateur MMA are thriving,  and funding could prove to be a pivotal moment in the continued growth of the sport. 

“We are at a critical time now at the tail-end of Covid factors where schools and sports are opening up once more. A renewed enthusiasm for any sports participation has already been seen.”

“Add to this the prominence of mixed martial arts in pop culture and the media, and the fact that there is an established syllabus that can be delivered safely and according to each student’s ability: this is a watershed moment for MMA to become a well-established standard programme for school students’ participation.”

Having completed both IMMAF qualifications, Evans is well equipped to deliver the program. He highlights how it can be seamlessly worked into current training schedules.

“The format that the IMMAF syllabus provides for me can naturally be fitted into the regular training timetable in my schools. We can train a mix of defence/offence/reversals and grappling every lesson, or we can dig deep into a specific technique and apply learnings from that in the development, for example, of combinations.”

This giant leap in growth for the sport in Australia will be a positive factor for parents as well. The programme will help ease the financial pressure of sport and allow peace of mind when it comes to delivery.

“The ActiveKids programme has been of critical importance in making my martial arts programs possible in schools, not least of which as it provides a lower financial entry point for parents.” 

“There is also the reassurance that the programme being delivered has met the school’s requirements for safety and security – Working with Children Checks and all insurances, lesson plans, and 1st Aid readiness are all also pre-verified.”

“With IMMAF’s strategic priority being youth development, carefully crafted projects which attract public interest, and funding, are crucial to sustainable development,” said IMMAF President Kerrith Brown. “Yet again, our friends in Australia are blazing a trail in amateur MMA.”

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IMMAF standout Rostem Akman joins Cage Warriors title tournament on road back to UFC https://immaf.org/2021/03/05/immaf-standout-rostem-akman-joins-cage-warriors-title-tournament-on-road-back-to-ufc/ Fri, 05 Mar 2021 12:24:07 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41633

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By Jorden Curran

Swedish UFC veteran and former amateur MMA star Rostem Akman, has been revealed as one of four standouts competing to earn the welterweight crown of Cage Warriors, the prestigious and long standing European MMA promotion.

“I’m very happy that I finally get to compete, I’ve missed it a lot,” Akman commented. “Cage Warriors is a good platform, so my goal is to win the belt and get back in the UFC. My first opponent is an up and coming fighter who is called “The Future” – his time is maybe in the future but my time is now.”

Kicking off on Friday 19th March at London’s York Hall, Akman (6-2 pro record) meets undefeated Irishman Ian Garry (5-0) in the tournament semi-finals at Cage Warriors 121. On the opposite side of the bracket, UK based Latvian competitor Madars Fleminas (8-2) meets experienced pro contender Jack Grant (16-6). 

Akman enters the tournament with a vast catalogue of experience spanning his 14-2 amateur record, including two IMMAF European Open titles earned at the 2015 and 2016 tournaments, plus an IMMAF World Championships bronze medal earned prior to his current pro tenure. Both Akman and Garry hold a unanimous decision win over CW contender James Sheehan, and Akman’s long list of international experience while representing the Swedish national team has seen him face a diverse spectrum of talent and styles, from Bulgaria, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the UK, Ireland, Italy and more, including a first round submission stoppage over current Bellator standout Kiefer Crosbie.  

As an amateur Akman became known for his takedowns and smothering control on the ground before turning pro and letting loose his heavy hands with a more aggressive approach lending to a 100% finish record across all his wins.  

Cage Warriors 120, 121 and 122 will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass on 18th, 19th and 20th March.

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IMMAF to host ‘Athlete Weight Management in Sport’ Thought Leadership panel https://immaf.org/2021/03/05/immaf-to-host-athlete-weight-management-in-sport-thought-leadership-panel/ Fri, 05 Mar 2021 10:40:01 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41630

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FT. OLYMPIAN PAULA RADCLIFFE WITH A CROSS-SPORT EXPERT PANEL
19 APRIL 2021, 17:00hrs – 18:15 hrs UTC
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is set to host its first in a series of cross-sport Thought Leadership panel discussions with “Athlete Weight Management in Sport” on 19 April 2021 from 17:00hrs to 18:15 hrs UTC, online.

The panel line-up includes:

  • Paula Radcliffe, MBE, British Olympian, long-distance runner; previous holder of the Women’s World Marathon Record.
  • Clint Wattenberg, Director of Nutrition at the UFC Performance Institute.
  • Dr. Mike Loosemore, Commonwealth Games Chief Medical Officer, Team England boxing doctor, former AIBA Medical Commission member, Safe MMA.
  • Dr. Randa Basharon, IMMAF Medical Commission; ringside physician(Nevada State Athletic Commission, USA Boxing, IMMAF and the US National Muay Thai Association; American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians member).

The discussion will be hosted and moderated by Anti-doping and Integrity expert, Michele Verroken of Sporting Integrity, who serves as IMMAF’s Anti-doping advisor.

The event will feature a closing talk by IMMAF President and judo Olympian Kerrith Brown, addressing his own historic experiences with weight cutting as an elite athlete, and the opportunity for questions and answers with the panel.

Weight-cutting is deemed the biggest risk to athlete health and safety in mixed martial arts but is not an issue distinct to MMA, impacting a range of mainstream sports. The aim of the panel discussion is to share experiences and learnings from across sport to promote awareness and provide recommendations for safe and effective weight management that can be practically applied by athletes, coaches and administrators.

“Athlete Weight Management in Sport” is open to the public and takes place as part of IMMAF’s 2021 Technical Seminar Week (19 to 23 April). Information about how to register will be published shortly. 

Paula Radcliffe said: “Athlete welfare should be a priority across all sports so I’m delighted to support IMMAF as it shines a spotlight on the issue of weight management. My position is that athletes can compete at a healthy, natural weight and still be world class champions. By opening up the debate we can change any culture that endorses abnormal weight management.”

Director of Nutrition at the UFC Performance Institute Chris Wattenberg said: “Managing body weight is endemic to weight class sports such as mixed martial arts and is entangled into the cultural identity of the sport. While there are many pitfalls, weight making can be done strategically to support both athlete performance and health but requires a seismic cultural shift in priorities away from the ‘if I can make it, then I should cut it’ mindset that is common in the sport.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “I am proud to see IMMAF’s Thought Leadership Series launch with this topic, which is so embedded in sport, including MMA. Sports’ governing bodies have a duty of care to address the risks to athlete safety posed by bad practices in weight management, and education is absolutely key to this.”

Register here: https://app.livestorm.co/immaf/discussion-on-athlete-weight-management

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Danish MMA Federation brings together combat sports with new Myfightbook initiative https://immaf.org/2021/03/03/danish-mma-federation-brings-together-combat-sports-with-new-myfightbook-initiative/ Wed, 03 Mar 2021 07:03:01 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41400

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By Jake Smith

The Danish Mixed Martial Arts Federation (DMMAF) has launched their own Myfightbook which alongside MMA, will work closely with other federations to present a unified entity across combat sports in Denmark, while also creating a new code of conduct to clearly state how athletes associated with the federation should behave.

In a highly important step in the organisation of Danish combat sports, the DMMAF invited the Danish Muay Thai Federation, the Danish Boxing Federation and the Danish Taekwondo Federation to also join their new Myfightbook website, with all three accepting the offer. The move means that Danish Combat sports will have a united front moving forward and all four federations can use the same system to keep up to date with fightbooks and medical records.
In addition to the introduction of their MyFightBook site, the DMMAF have implemented a brand new Code Of Conduct, or Adfærdskodeks after becoming aware of the unfortunate growth of underground fighting across Europe and upon realising they did not have a clear cut set of rules regarding their athletes competed in such unregulated events.

The new Code Of Conduct does not only clearly explain how to behave as an athlete associated with the federation, but also clearly states the sanctions that would follow if coaches or athletes were to partake in illegal or unregulated events. The Code Of Conduct was accepted by the Demark General Assembly in January 2021.

To coincide with the new set of regulations, the DMMAF put forward a new commission for disciplinary cases to meet the new meaning that members of the federation who are held with respect in the sport or have superior knowledge of both theory and practice but do not have affiliations to any clubs or gyms, can also be held to account and must abide by the new Code Of Conduct.

The steps the DMMAF have taken over the last few months will play a crucial role in attaining the safety standards set by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.

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Australia shows the way with Covid safe Open event https://immaf.org/2021/03/01/australia-shows-the-way-with-covid-safe-open-event/ Mon, 01 Mar 2021 12:22:55 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41358

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By Jake Smith

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation of Australia (IMMAFA) successfully held their first COVID safe event of 2021, the Queensland Open on February 20th, 2021.

The event, held at Gamebred Academy in Brisbane, had 38 athletes from five Nations including Australia, New Zealand, France, Brazil, and Greece – all based in Australia – competing in the Open. The matches included youth (U18s), junior and senior bouts.

For many of the athletes, it was their first time competing on the IMMAF circuit and with so many young athletes competing, the tournament is set to expand in future. There’s great potential for many of the youth and junior competitors to perform in IMMAF events for years to come.

Australia has been somewhat at the forefront of IMMAF development over the last 18 months. The Gold Coast hosted the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships. They have been pivotal in pioneering and piloting the new IMMAF specialist coaching courses MMA stand-up and MMA ground, both of which will be rolled out globally.

Team Australia are experiencing notable success across the IMMAF scene and are currently ranked as the No.5 Senior team in the world, with their most recent global success coming by way of Strawweight, Olivia Ukmar, claiming Sliver in the 2019 IMMAF World Championships. 

2020 IMMAF Oceania featherweight champion, Colby Thicknesse also recently made an successful transition to the professional ranks with a 1st round submission on his pro debut.

Once again, the high standards of IMMAF and the various divisions available means amateurs have plenty of opportunities to gain competitive experience. Providing a COVID safe platform upon which young amateur athletes can compete means that competitors have the chance to compete more frequently during these uncertain times for amateur sport.

Sevastiyan Kostov played a lead role in the running of the Queensland Open. He said: “With IMMAFA, we were very happy to be able to restart those state competitions, with the sport development globally being delayed by the various restrictions. Here in Queensland, we were lucky that the restrictions were not too harsh, which together with the other major sports in Australia, turned the state into the sport capital of the country.

“In fact, the project of running those series of regular state tournaments with IMMAFA, is pending since last year, but actually was stopped by last year’s events.

“The event saw youth, junior and senior bouts, it was important to cover all divisions in order to help continue the development of young athletes in these uncertain times.”

The development of the athletes during such an uncertain time was also something that was very much important to the IMMAFA team, as Kostov explained: “Me, the president of IMMAFA Richie Cranny and the other officials and coaches involved in development of the sport under IMMAF share common vision about progression in the sport of MMA from grass roots. 

“In order to prevent leaking of athletes, which is common in MMA, we designed this series of tournaments throughout the year. The wins from those tournaments go into a national ranking list system based only on victories, which helps us compare athletes from different regions, when the times come to assemble a national team. For example: you might not win every tournament during the year, but collecting victories through the IMMAFA tournaments might climb you at the top of the rank list.

“In this last tournament, compared to the previous state level tournament, we pretty much double the numbers of competitors between youths and have probably four times more adults in the divisions. 

“I believe in the concept of IMMAF for development of MMA into an Olympic sport, together with the progression tournament system we implemented here in Australia will resonate even more with coaches and athletes and I wish this year to have fewer odds outside the sport to deal with, both as organiser and coach.”

Full list of medalists from the 2021 Queensland Open:

YOUTH BOYS / -61.2 KG BANTAMWEIGHT / 16-17 YEARS OLD

1 Liam Benton (AUS) 
2 Lewis Essery (AUS)

YOUTH BOYS / -77.1 KG WELTERWEIGHT / 16-17 YEARS OLD

1 Kyle Mayocchi (AUS)
2 Randall Rowan (AUS) 
3 Josh Creed (AUS) 

YOUTH BOYS / -44 KG / 12-13 YEARS OLD

1 Codey Toft (AUS)
2 Steven Diamond (AUS) 
3 Stirling Cartwright (AUS)
3 Thoran Schellhammer (AUS) 

YOUTH BOYS / -52 KG / 12-13 YEARS OLD

1 Riley Wells (AUS) 
2 Matthew Harvey (AUS) 
3 Tayvian Marden-Ryle (AUS) 

YOUTH BOYS / -57 KG / 14-15 YEARS OLD

1 Nick Nicolas (AUS) 
2 Tomas Schellhammer (AUS)
3 Orlando Nagy (AUS)

YOUTH BOYS / -67 KG / 14-15 YEARS OLD

1 Brodie Mayocchi (AUS) 
2 Orson Mccomish (AUS) 
3 Hayden Absalom (AUS) 

YOUTH BOYS / 72+ KG / 14-15 YEARS OLD

1 Ariki Cliffe (AUS) 
2 Brooklyn Cartwright (AUS)

YOUTH GIRLS / -56.7 KG FLYWEIGHT / 16-17 YEARS OLD

1 Talulah Linegar (AUS) 

SENIOR MEN / -61.2 KG BANTAMWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION B

1 Jefferson Kawamoto (BRZ) 
2 Lachlan Paulsen (AUS)

SENIOR MEN / -65.8 KG FEATHERWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION C

1 Liam Forrest (AUS) 
2 Victor Khuu (AUS) 

SENIOR MEN / -70.3 KG LIGHTWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION C

1 Dario Strbac (AUS)
2 Finn Mumford (AUS)

SENIOR MEN / -70.3 KG LIGHTWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION B

1 Jonathan Kuhn (FR) 
2 Alastair Volders (AUS)
3 Alex Young (AUS)

SENIOR MEN / -70.3 KG LIGHTWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION A

1 Abraham Rugato (AUS)
1 Ryan Bishop (AUS)
2 Julian Prowse (AUS)

SENIOR MEN / -77.1 KG WELTERWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION C

1 Matt Natad (NZ)
2 Ishaan Rai (AUS)
3 Dylan Murphy (AUS)

SENIOR MEN / -83.9 KG MIDDLEWEIGHT / 18+ YEARS OLD / SKILL DIVISION B

1 Liam Sue-Tin (GRC)
2 Shaun King (AUS)

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MMA India National Championships sets benchmark for COVID protocols https://immaf.org/2021/02/26/mma-india-national-championships-sets-benchmark-for-covid-protocols/ Fri, 26 Feb 2021 17:17:09 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41354

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By Caoilte de Barra

The Fourth MMA India National Championships took place at the Babu Sunder Singh Institute of Technology and Management in Lucknow, India from 19 February 2021 to 21 February 2021. The event followed COVID safety protocols which can serve as a benchmark for upcoming IMMAF events in 2021.

The event welcomed 223 athletes from 22 states and 3 union territories from across the country. History was created as over 37 women registered to compete, highlighting the growth in popularity and take-up of the sport amongst women. 

The State Government of Uttarpradesh provided their support for the event as well as assurances they will continue to support and host future events. In addition to this, the State Sports Minister provided a positive update by assuring the sport would soon gain official recognition by the Sports Ministry in New Delhi.

2018 IMMAF Jr. World Champion Mahboob Khan was in action at the event as he retained the national title for a third consecutive year. The exciting young fighter is renowned for finishing fights following his two first-round finishes at the 2018 IMMAF Junior World Championships to secure gold. 

Khan also featured at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships as a senior. He outpointed 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships winner Troy Fumo in the opening fight but did not feature in the following round. 

Two other former India National team representees, Akash Gautam and Karan Chauhan also competed. Although both were unable to secure a medal position. Gautam notably competed at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships and Chauhan at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships respectively. 

It is expected that some of the winners of the event will represent India at future IMMAF Championships. 

See below for the full list of medalists from the 2021 MMA India National Championships. 

Female: Atomweight:

  1. Vridhi Kumari (TN)
  2. Shvanshika Sharma (UP)
  3. Aksheta Shenbhogue (KA)
  4. Shivani Sen (UP)

Female: Strawweight:

  1. Fathima (TN)
  2. Anamika Verma (UP)
  3. Kavyasree K (KA)
  4. Geeta Das (MP)

Female: Flyweight:

  1. Muskan Ratre (CG)
  2. Maithri (KA)
  3. Ritika (UP)

Female: Bantamweight:

  1. Khushboo (MH)
  2. Mandeep Kaur (UK)
  3. Quasain Khan (UP)

Female: Lightweight:

  1. Irshita Aggrawal (UP)
  2. Aushi Singh (DL)
  3. Shiwari Sharma (HP)
  4. Surahbi Sankila (MP)

Female: Middleweight:

  1. Divya Rajeswari (TS)

Male: Strawweight:

  1. Shabarish A (TN)
  2. Mohd Abdul (TS)
  3. Adarsh Barot (GJ)
  4. Ishan Kumar (CG)

Male: Flyweight:

  1. Mahboob Khan (TS)
  2. Bhavesh Dangariya (MP)
  3. Mohamed Arbaz (TS)
  4. Umer (JK)

Male: Bantamweight:

  1. Lenin Prakash (TN)
  2. Limasunep Imchen (Nagaland)
  3. Shubham Waghmare (MH)
  4. Deepak Shekawat (HR)

Male: Featherweight:

  1. Kaushik Sai Kumar (TN)
  2. Rajesh Pujari (OD)
  3. Ram Mohan (HR)
  4. Nitesh Kumar (CH)

Male: Lightweight

  1. Rahul Thapa (HR)
  2. Rishab (MP)
  3. Glen Fenando (TN)
  4. Eshu Sharma (UK)

Male: Welterweight

  1. Zarmawia (MZ)
  2. Owais Yaqoob (JK)
  3. Siddant Singh (DL)
  4. Gursewak (CH)

Male: Middleweight:

  1. Anurag Singh (UK)
  2. Uday Pratap Singh (UK)
  3. Nitiraj Singh Chouhan (MP)
  4. Paramveer Singh (CH)

Male: Light Heavyweight:

  1. Tashi Wangchu (AR)
  2. Adarsh S (KA)
  3. Nagendra Singh (UP)
  4. Sachin Gurjar (MP)

Male: Heavyweight:

  1. Hassan Hashmi (UP)
  2. Mohit Aggarwal (CG)
  3. Prudyot Roy (UP)

Male: Super Heavyweight

  1. Yogesh Jadhav (MH)
  2. Raktim Singha (WB)

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IMMAF alumni Duncan faces toughest pro challenge at Cage Warriors 120 https://immaf.org/2021/02/26/immaf-alumni-duncan-faces-toughest-pro-challenge-at-cage-warriors-120/ Fri, 26 Feb 2021 16:32:19 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41350

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By Jake Smith

Top middleweight prospect and former IMMAF European silver medalist, Christian Leroy Duncan is aiming to extend his perfect start to life as a pro to 3-0-0, when he faces Will ‘Drago’ Currie at Cage Warriors 120 on March 18.

In his third Cage Warriors event, the first on the main card portion of a fight night, he will face his toughest opposition to date. Duncan is no stranger to the Cage Warriors stage, spending a majority of his 23 bout amateur career split between the Cage Warriors Academy platform and IMMAF tournaments.

In 2017, the Gloucester man made a statement in his first appearance on the IMMAF platform, at the World Championships. Duncan fought his way into medal contention with victories over John Caseneuil, Madi Doshmukhametov and tournament favourite Dario Bellandi. Duncan clinched the middleweight bronze after coming up short in the semi-finals against Khaled Laallam of Team Sweden, who went on to claim gold that year.

12 months and two victories on the Cage Warriors platform later, Duncan competed in the IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships. After a positive start, his exit from the tournament came in the quarter finals and once again by way of a unanimous decision loss to team Sweden, with Andreas Berg Gustafsson bringing his participation to an end.

He medalled once again at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA European Senior Open Championships claiming silver, after losing a unanimous decision to Russian Igor Glazkov in the middleweight final.

In one last run at IMMAF gold, Duncan competed in the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships, but departed after the second round loss to Sultan Omarov.

The middleweight has made an impressive start to life as an MMA professional. His successful transition has seen the former multiple IMMAF medalist secure two slick finishes over Kyle McClurkin and Lukasz Marcinkowski, both on the Cage Warriors stage.

Duncan’s offensive style, layered with his exciting spinning techniques and angled attacks has quickly established him as one to watch in the Cage Warriors middleweight division.

Fans could be in for a classic striker vs grappler bout when Duncan meets ‘Drago’- with four of Currie’s five professional victories coming by way of submission.

With a victory over Currie, Duncan will be looking to looking to further cement his name towards the top of the Cage Warriors middleweight division. 

Cage Warriors 120 takes place Thursday, March 18th 2021 and is being streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.

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IMMAF announces 2021 Technical Seminar Week https://immaf.org/2021/02/26/immaf-announces-2021-technical-seminar-week/ Fri, 26 Feb 2021 13:07:26 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41340

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19 APRIL – 23 APRIL, ONLINE
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) will be hosting its second virtual Technical Seminar Week for members from 19 to 23 April, with registration information to be released shortly.

Highlights include:

  • From Amateur to Pro: What it Takes to Make it?” with IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov and UFC Performance Institute Shanghai Head Coach, Dean Amasinger. 
  • UFC referee and IMMAF Regulatory Affairs Director, Marc Goddard on “The proving of regulatory pathways & the need for continual development in MMA.
  • “Youth MMA Programme – A Roadmap to Mainstream Funding and Support” with Danny Corr, chairman of IMMAF’s Peace Through MMA Commission. Corr is acclaimed for his Fight to Unite youth project in Northern Ireland, which tackles issues affecting young people and helps to build positive futures for them and their communities.
  • Commonwealth Games medical secretary and renowned Antidoping and Integrity consultant, Michele Verroken addressing “Risk Management in Anti-doping.”

The week is also set to feature a cross-sport panel discussion on athlete weight management, as the first in a new IMMAF Thought Leadership series, which will be open to the public and to be announced shortly.

See the full programme listed below.

IMMAF’S President Kerrith Brown said: “We are pleased to return with IMMAF Technical Seminar week aimed at knowledge sharing with our membership to further the sport development of MMA globally. Our 2020 edition was the first to be held online due to travel restrictions wrought by the pandemic, and yet turned out to IMMAF’s best attended Seminar Week yet. Based on its success, its enhanced inclusivity and the eco-benefits of organising online, we have brought the event forward this year to create continued opportunities for learning and growth during the ongoing lockdowns worldwide. We look forward to reuniting in person with our members at our Championships later in the year.”

For enquiries, contact: info@immaf.org


IMMAF 2021 TECHNICAL SEMINAR WEEK

MONDAY 19 APRIL 

13:00 hrs: President’s Welcome & CEO Update
President Kerrith Brown OLY & CEO Densign White OLY, MBE

14:00 hrs: From Amateur to Pro: What it Takes to Make it in MMA?
Dr. Andrew Moshanov – IMMAF Director of Development
Dean Amasinger, Head Coach – UFC Performance Institute Shanghai 

17:00hrs: (Public Event): Panel discussion on athlete weight management
Register here: https://app.livestorm.co/immaf/discussion-on-athlete-weight-management

TUESDAY 20 APRIL 

13:00 hrs: Youth MMA Programme – A Roadmap to Mainstream Funding and Support
Danny Corr – Fight to Unite, IMMAF Peace Through MMA Commission, UAMMAA

14:00 hrs:  National Federation Role and Responsibilities
Densign White OLY, MBE – IMMAF CEO

WEDNESDAY 21 APRIL 

13:00 hrs: MMA FIT (aerobic workout session)
Bertrand Amoussou – IMMAF Board Director

14:00 hrs: Introducing the IMMAF Policy for Championships Legacy
Jorden Curran – IMMAF Member Development Consultant

THURSDAY 22 APRIL 

13:00 hrs: Risk Management in Anti-doping
Michele Verroken – Sporting Integrity, IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant

14:00 hrs: The Proving of Regulatory Pathways and the Need for Continual Development in MMA
Marc Goddard – IMMAF Regulatory Affairs Director, international referee

FRIDAY 23 APRIL 

13:00 hrs: Introducing the Internship & Volunteers Programme at IMMAF
Jaine Shah – IMMAF Athlete Equipment & Volunteers Manager

14:00 hrs: TPPS and Child Safeguarding Policies for MMA Championships
IMMAF Events Team

15:00 hrs: President’s Closing Speech

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Mariscal’s pro career has its roots in first ever IMMAF World Champs https://immaf.org/2021/02/25/mariscals-pro-career-has-its-roots-in-first-ever-immaf-world-champs/ Thu, 25 Feb 2021 11:36:01 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41333

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By Blaine Henry

The hosting of IMMAF’s first amateur World Championships in 2014 sparked off a chain of events that created MMA stars of today like Jose Torres and Alessio Di Chirico. But in that inaugural event, another American, Jose Mariscal, won a gold medal in the lightweight division, which many see as MMA’s most competitive division. 

Mariscal’s amateur run was stellar. But it was when he competed at the IMMAF World Championships that he really began to find himself. As history records, Mariscal went through the tournament winning four fights, but the most impressive part was that they were all first round submissions. Since then, Mariscal turned pro and has not taken any easy fights. 

Even before turning pro, Mariscal had a laundry list of accomplishments. In addition to the National and World Championship with IMMAF, Mariscal is a well accomplished grappler. He’s won nine Jiu Jitsu championships and has a black belt in Judo and Japanese Jiu Jitsu. He also had success in junior college wrestling. 

But what’s even more impressive is he’s found time in between his grappling ventures to have some pretty significant accomplishments in striking sports. He’s won three kickboxing National Championships, third at the World Kickboxing Championships, and a Golden Gloves boxing champion. 

The Pro Career of Jose Mariscal 

The amateur submission streak extended to the pro career of Jose Mariscal. In his pro debut in October 2014, Mariscal won by first round submission. He defeated Trey Cole III with a triangle at 1:14 of the 1st round. Mariscal went on to win his next two fights as a pro. 

After a few fights at lightweight, Mariscal moved down to featherweight where he had more of a size advantage and has fought there ever since. 

Fast forward to the present day and Jose Mariscal has a 10-6 record. He has competed in, and headlined, some of the best upper-tier regional promotions like LFA and CFFC. 

Looking at his record, Mariscal does not take easy fights. He’s taken on the challenges of Lashawn Alcocks, Tim Cho, Frank Buenafuente of Bellator, and Gregor Gillespie, Bryce Mitchell, Youssef Zalal, and Steve García of the UFC. He does not pass up an opportunity to fight. He is the epitome of the motto “anyone, anywhere, any time.” 

By far his best win was when Mariscal defeated Youssef Zalal in 2019. Mariscal brought the fight all night in the LFA 57 main event and took the decision. 

This desire to take on the best can be traced back to his IMMAF era and the tournament style format of a World Championships where you must fight often, and hard. The American pioneered the mentality of being prepared to take on all-comers and paved the way for future IMMAF champions like Muhammad Mokaev who share this IMMAF fighting spirit.

Mariscal hasn’t had the best of luck recently. After beating Youssef Zalal, Mariscal has dropped three of his last four contests. But you can count on him to bounce back. The desire to fight anyone is also accompanied by a tenacious desire to improve. Mariscal will do exactly that. Losing is an important part of a fighter’s career since a loss is when they learn the most. 

With 2020 pretty much a lost year due to the impact of COVID 19, Mariscal is preparing for a major comeback in 2021. “Chepe,” as he’s known, plans to come back stronger than ever and to apply all the lessons he’s learned going way back to his IMMAF Championship debut in 2014.

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Senegalese MMA builds on rich tradition of traditional wrestling scene https://immaf.org/2021/02/24/senegalese-mma-builds-on-rich-tradition-of-traditional-wrestling-scene/ Wed, 24 Feb 2021 12:23:46 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41329

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By Caoilte de Barra

With Senegalese fighters on the rise, meet the organisation which has been building national legitimacy for MMA since 2012. Based in Dakar, MMA Senegal are currently in the advanced stages of IMMAF recognition with membership expected to be confirmed at the upcoming IMMAF board meeting. 

MMA Senegal is recognised by the country’s Ministry of Interior, and is connected to clubs across the capital, Dakar, amongst other regions. The non-profit was founded in 2012 to promote and engage people in combat sports, MMA in particular.

President – Pape Demba Kane – is a former MMA fighter and has over 10 years of experience working in the finance industry. Committed to developing MMA in the country, Kane aims to aid members and fighters to explore their capabilities and find the right discipline in Senegal.

He has established a trained workforce including volunteers and a board of trustees that brings together diverse experience from industries including martial arts, coaching and club management, journalism and media as well as the financial sector.

There are plans in place for a supportive collaboration with the national wrestling scene, which is hugely popular, to establish thousands of MMA licenses. Meaning MMA Senegal is ready to join IMMAF and an international community that will enable greater development at home with the added opportunity for local MMA pathways. 

MMA Senegal joining IMMAF comes as no surprise with the rise of Senegalese MMA as of late. On the 14th December 2019, Dakar played host to ARES FC 1, the debut show of the first Afro-European MMA League. 

ARES FC promoted a show filled with high-level talent from around the globe. The show attracted worldwide media attention and was aired live on UFC Fight Pass. The focal point for many was the emergence of Oumar Kane a.k.a Reug Reug, who took to the cage for the first time at ARES FC 1.

‘Reug Reug’ is also an undefeated Senegalese Wrestling Champion, a wrestling style not often seen in MMA but whose stars are national heroes in Senegal. Now fighting under the ONE Championship Banner, he has become a star ever since his successful debut against Sofiane Boukichou and is continuing to rise in the sport. 

Other promotions have also begun to sign talent with such background. KSW recently signed two-time ‘King of the Arena’ Senegalese Wrestling Champion, Serigne Ousmane ‘Bombardier’ Dia. ‘Bombardier’ holds a 2-0 record in MMA and faces former World’s Strongest Man, Mariusz Pudzianowski (13-7) in his promotional debut. 

The rise of these fighters has put the folk style wrestling on the map internationally. Senegalese Wrestling events attract sell-out crowds that fill out arenas including football stadiums in Senegal. Competitors like ‘Bombardier’ and ‘Reug Reug’ are often seen as celebrities. 

The sport is not solely grappling based as it allows blows fighters compete to knock each other onto the ground or out of the ring. Fights can last anywhere between 30 seconds to 30 minutes. (Source: A Fighting Chance: Wrestling Out of Poverty in Senegal | Time

The rise in Senegalese Wrestlers transitioning to MMA is refreshing and with the help of MMA Senegal it may not be long before we all come to enjoy this style of combat in IMMAF competitions.

Image Credit: ARES Fighting Championship

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Blast from the Past: Why 2015 was a vintage year for Irish Amateur MMA https://immaf.org/2021/02/24/blast-from-the-past-why-2015-was-a-vintage-year-for-irish-amateur-mma/ Wed, 24 Feb 2021 12:16:54 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41326

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By Jake Smith

Irish MMA has caught the attention of fans around the world for some time. Back in 2015, several young prospects represented the tri colours at IMMAF Championships competing in both the Worlds and the European Open.

The 2015 IMMAF World Championships took place in Las Vegas from 6-11 July. Overall, it was not the most successful run out for Team Ireland, only medalling twice, however, numerous members of the Irish team have gone on to establish themselves as notable names in the professional ranks.

The biggest success story of the year for Team Ireland came in the featherweight division. At 6-2, Frans Mlambo came into the 2015 World Championships with solid amateur experience. Following victories over Abylai Tolesh, David Evans & Nicolas Ott, faced Joel Moya Schonodorff of Team Sweden, in the final. Mlambo came out on top and clinched the only gold of Ireland’s World Championships that year.

Sinead Kavanagh was the second most successful Irish athlete that year, securing silver in the women’s featherweight division. The World Championships would prove to be Kavangh’s final bouts as an amateur, before turning pro two months later. 

James Gallagher and Kiefer Crosbie also represented Ireland at the 2015 Worlds. After a 3rd round rear-naked choke victory against Sam Agushi, Gallagher had to withdraw from the competition due to injury. Crosbie would be back later in the year to compete in the European Open.

Alongside Crosbie, Ryan Spilane and Sam Slater also fought at the 2015 IMMAF European Open Championships, which was held in Birmingham, England, from 19-22 November. All three made it to the quarter finals in their respective weight divisions.

Fast forward six years later, and many of the aforementioned athletes are now signed to global promotions. Gallagher, Kavanagh, Crosbie, Miambo have been leading the charge of Irish MMA in Bellator for several years.

After clinching gold at the 2020 Oceania Open, Spillane joined his fellow Irish IMMAF Alumni and signed with Bellator in mid-2020.

Sam Slater has competed in numerous promotions including BAMMA, Brave CF and most recently, Bellator.

Aforementioned athletes full results:
Kiefer Crosbie – 2015 World Championships (first round), 2015 European Open (Quarter Final)
James Gallagher – 2015 World Championships (first round – Withdrew due to injury)
Sinead Kavanagh – 2015 World Championships (Silver, Featherweight)
Frans Mlambo- 2015 World Championships (Gold, Featherweight)
Ryan Spilane- 2015 European Open (Quarter Final)
Sam Slater- 2015 European Open (Quarter Final)

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IMMAF medallists among winners at 2021 Dagestan MMA Championships https://immaf.org/2021/02/23/immaf-medallists-among-winners-at-2021-dagestan-mma-championships/ Tue, 23 Feb 2021 10:19:14 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41324

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By Jorden Curran

The recent Dagestan Amateur MMA Championships was a showcase of suplexes and flyweight knee knockouts on the weekend of February 13. For those who earmarked themselves as the region’s top up-and-comers, the event was a final qualifying round for the Russian national finals set to take place from 27-31 May. Other top standouts such as IMMAF European Open gold medallist, Salamat Isbulaev, qualified for national finals earlier this year, via the Orenburg city championships and other region-based events. 

Russia’s amateur MMA network spans the entirety of Russia, from Moscow and St Petersburg to Siberia and the Urals, drawing thousands of athletes competing to advance through their local city, regional and federal championships in order to reach the coveted national finals, which is regularly attended by Russian combat sport icons such as Fedor Emelianenko and Nikolai Valuev.

Team Russia welterweight standout Islam Bagomedov (pictured), who won gold in the senior welterweight division of the 2018 IMMAF World Championships and bronze in 2019, went up in weight to earn the middleweight crown of this year’s Dagestan championships. In addition, former IMMAF junior world silver medallist, Shamil Bakhachaliev, continues to grow and was the star of the championships with a sensational walk-off flying knee KO.

“Dagestan championships as always means the highest competition levels,” Bagomedov commented. “Every weight was full of tough guys. Due to the pandemic, I went through a 1.5 year hiatus from fighting. I could have gone straight to the national championships of Russia, but because of a long lay-off I wanted to warm up a little bit, to test my condition. I tried my hands at middleweight now and it felt quite good. I even felt it might be my weight. This year I still plan to compete at 77 kg, if not debut in professional MMA, then I’ll transition to 84 kg next year.”

Russia’s organised amateur network has ushered the careers of talent such as Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC champion Petr Yan and Bellator champion Vadim Nemkov, to name a few, and we will undoubtedly come to see several of the newest faces stake their claim within leading promotions in years to come. But first, it’s on to the national championship finals in May and subsequent qualification to the IMMAF World Championships and European Open later this year.

2021 Dagestan championship medallists below:

52,2kg – Strawweight
1st place Omarov Kurban
2nd place Kakaev Khizar
3rd Musaev Ramazan
3rd Batyrov Abdullabey 

56,7kg – Flyweight
1st Zubairov Dalgat
2nd Azizov Aziz
3rd Ordashev Shamil
3rd Nutcalkhanov Akhmed

61,2kg – Bantamweight 
1st Asadulaev Ainuddin
2nd Magomedov Murad
3rd Ziyavdinov Abdulkhakim
3rd Magomedsaidov Islam

65,8kg – Featherweight 
1st Ibragimov Aligadzhi
2nd Bakhachaliev Shamil
3rd Zainukov Kurban
3rd Agashyrinov Artur

70,3kg – Lightweight 
1st Abasov Usman
2nd Guseinov Abubakr
3rd Omarov Abdulatip
3rd Mutalimov Magomedsalam

77.1kg – Welterweight
1st Magomedov Magomedrasul
2nd Aliev Abdula
3rd Mamatkhanov Akhmed
3rd Malikov Taimaz

83,9kg – Middleweight
1st Bagomedov Islam
2nd Ibragimov Ruslan
3rd Abdulkhalimov Muslim
3rd Magomedgadzhiev Isa

93kg – Light-Heavyweight
1st Kurbanov Shamil
2nd Surkhaev Arslan

120,2kg – Heavyweight
1st Ibnukhazharov Khalil
2nd Magomedov Idris
3rd Magomaev Magomedrashid

120,2+ kg – Super-Heavyweight
1st Dzhamaldinov Mura

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Olympics news site insidethegames.biz launches IMMAF amateur MMA section in sponsorship deal https://immaf.org/2021/02/22/olympics-news-site-insidethegames-biz-launches-immaf-amateur-mma-section-in-sponsorship-deal/ Mon, 22 Feb 2021 11:27:32 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41308

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Flagship Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games news site, insidethegames.biz, has today launched a section dedicated to IMMAF amateur MMA, sponsored by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.

The section includes a dedicated IMMAF news page and Championships updates, as well as comprehensive information spanning amateur MMA, its rules and regulations, reigning world champions, IMMAF social responsibility and organisational information.

Founded in 2012, the purpose of IMMAF is to further the development, recognition and regulation of the sport of MMA (mixed martial arts). With a seven-year track record of organising international, amateur championships and developing the sport globally, IMMAF’s membership today includes 120 National Federations worldwide with National Olympic Committee recognition in almost 50 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. 

insidethegames.biz was founded by Duncan Mackay in 2005. The free-to-all site now attracts 20 million visitors a year from more than 200 countries and is regarded globally as the go-to source for news on the Olympic Movement, major sporting events, National Olympic Committees and the International Federations. Publishing seven days a week, insidethegames.biz covers the business, politics and bid process behind the global multi-sport Games. With a motto of “We lead, others follow” insidethegames.biz prides itself on breaking the best sports news stories first before any other outlet. Its team of journalists have experience stretching back to the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and set the news agenda for the multi-billion-dollar sports industry every day. To sign up for free daily e-alerts click https://www.insidethegames.biz/register.  

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“We are excited to see amateur MMA featured in its own dedicated section on one of the world’s leading sports news sites, bringing the sport to a wider audience. The platform will give exposure to the vast amount of work IMMAF is carrying out in the development of the grassroots and amateur sport and in setting benchmarks for good governance, integrity, participant safety and equity in combat sports. We look forward to a fruitful partnership with insidethegames.biz as we continue our bid for sport recognition from the Olympic movement, to provide better safeguarding and equal opportunities for participants of MMA.”

Sarah Bowron, Managing Director of Dunsar Media, said, “We are delighted to be working in partnership with IMMAF. insidethegames.biz is uniquely placed to help International Federations to tell their story and ensure their progress and achievements reach those that matter, throughout the world, on a regular basis, as fast as possible. The last 12 months has been unprecedented for everyone, not just the global sporting community, and yet insidethegames.biz has continued to provide the highest quality editorial copy keeping the decision-makers of world sport informed of the latest news, seven days a week. This latest collaboration is yet again a testament to the hard work and constant desire for editorial excellence and accuracy that insidethegames.biz thrives on. I look forward to seeing how the ambitions of IMMAF progress.”

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5 IMMAF alumni who are setting the gold standard as Pros https://immaf.org/2021/02/20/5-immaf-alumni-who-are-setting-the-gold-standard-as-pros/ Sat, 20 Feb 2021 13:57:22 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41265

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By Jake Smith

Since our inception, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has witnessed hundreds of Alumni go on to sign with major promotions around the world. Here, we are going to take a look at five global stars who have competed in the IMMAFs.  

ALESSIO DI CHIRICO

Alessio Di Chirico entered the world of amateur mixed martial arts through the IMMAFs. The 2014 World Championshipship tournament played host to all three of the Italian’s amateur bouts. After making light work of Cole Fetzner in the first round, finishing the Canadian with strikes, two decision wins against Karol Linowski & Eivind D.S. Kjønsvik clinched Di Chirico Gold in the light-heavyweight division.

After taking home IMMAF gold, Di Chirico turned pro. After amassing an impressive nine fight win streak, the UFC came calling.

After mixed fortunes in his first seven UFC bouts, Di Chirico scored his biggest victory to date at the start of 2021, with a highlight reel head kick knockout over Joaquin Buckley.

JACK SHORE

After amassing eight amateur wins on the regional scene, Jack Shore represented the UK in the 2015 IMMAF European Open Championships. It was clear from the outset that the Welshman would be a force to be reckoned with. Three dominant 1st round submissions secured Shore‘s place in the 2015 final against Norway’s Geir Kåre Cemsoylu Nyland. Nyland made it to the final bell but all judges scored the bout in Shore’s favour – extending his impressive unbeaten run to 12 bouts.

It then took only one more professional victory before Cage Warriors signed the top Welsh prospect to a professional contract. Over the next two years, ‘Tank’ tore through the Cage Warriors bantamweight division, claiming and defending the belt before signing with the UFC in 2019. 

Shore’s dominance at 135lbs has transferred impeccably to the UFC, with rear-naked choke victories over Nohelin Hernandez & Aaron Phillips. 

His next outing, against Hunter Azure, is set to be his toughest to date.

JAMES GALLAGHER

James ‘The Strabanimal’ Gallagher competed in the 2015 IMMAF World Championships. Following a 3rd round rear-naked choke against Sam Agushi, the then 5-0 amateur, was forced to withdraw from the competition due to injury. This would also prove to be Gallagher’s last amateur bout.

Gallagher’s self confidence and charismatic attitude established him as a huge fan favourite, and helped him catch  the eye of several major promotions. Gallagher opted to sign with Bellator MMA and his star power quickly became apparent. In only his fifth bout for the promotion, Gallagher faced Ricky Bandejas in a bout many believed would see the winner enter title contention. Bandejas handed Gallagher his only professional loss to date, but that did not deter the young athlete. 

The 24-year-old bounced back and four convincing victories and three main events later, the Strabane native is one of the biggest names in Bellator and is edging ever closer to his shot at the bantamweight title.

LEAH MCCOURT

Leah McCourt is an incredibly decorated IMMAF athlete. In 2015, McCourt represented Northern Ireland and claimed lightweight gold in the European Open, the only gold medal for her country that year.

Nine months later, Leah replicated her success at featherweight, claiming gold in the 2016 IMMAF World Championships. 

McCourt then made the decision to move into the professional game. After a loss to Rizlen Zouak in her first pro outing, McCourt picked up her first win when she faced fellow IMMAF Alumni, Manon Fiorot, in 2018.
 
‘The Curse’ was one of many European talents scooped up by Bellator. After victories over Hatice Özyurt and Kerry Hughes, the 28-year-old was set to face Judith Ruis on the main card of February 2020’s Bellator Europe Series 7, but following James Gallagher’s withdrawal from the main event weeks prior, McCourt’s bout was placed in the coveted main event slot, in front of a sold out 3Arena. The resulting win over Ruis catapulted McCourt to the upper echelons of the division. 

MANON FIOROT

Manon Fiorot first competed in the IMMAFs during the 2016 World Championships, suffering a loss in her first amateur bout and crashing out of the championship.

In 2017, Fiorot fought in European Open with a point to prove. After a victory over Eva-My Persson, she competed in a hard fought final, taking home silver. Seven months later Fiorot returned, with an even more developed skill set and taking home gold from the IMMAF World Championships. 

Upon turning pro, she took part in EFC’s ‘The Fighter’ series, coming up trumps with victories over Cornelia Holm and Beckie Ainscough. The victories set Fiorot in good stead heading into the EFC flyweight division and following a third round stoppage of contender Mellony Geugjes, Fiorot found herself competing for her first major international title. 

Fiorot faced a fierce champion in Amanda Lino. After a hard fought 25 minutes, the Frenchwoman was crowned the new EFC flyweight champion. 

‘The Beast’ collected her second world title less than a year later. After signing with UAE Warriors, Fiorot competed twice in as many months before landing her shot at the title in November 2020, in a bout in which she dispatched Gabriela Campo with ease.

The 31-year-old made her UFC debut in January 2021. Her performance against Victoria Leonardo was nothing short of punch perfect and has left many eager to see how far she will go.

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IMMAF standout Dee Begley aims for first pro victory https://immaf.org/2021/02/19/immaf-standout-dee-begley-aims-for-first-pro-victory-this-weekend/ Fri, 19 Feb 2021 11:32:16 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41263

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By Caoilte de Barra

Flyweight prospect Dee Begley is looking to secure her first win as a professional MMA athlete and build upon the experience she learned as an IMMAF amateur. 

Following her stint as an amateur, Begley opted to turn pro and found herself travelling to Montreal, Quebec for her debut. Across from her stood a 6-fight pro in Corinne Laframboise. Despite a valiant performance, the Irish fighter walked away with a loss to the Canadian. 

Training out of SBG Ireland, Begley will compete in her 2nd pro bout on the Clan Wars 40 card on March 21st. Her fight against Indra Davis will historically serve as the promotion’s first-ever pro women’s bout.

She made her IMMAF debut as a Flyweight at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, however, the Irish representative lucked out in the opening round to eventual gold medalist, Michele Oliveira (Brazil). 

The loss did not discourage Begley as she went on to pick up a championship title on the national scene before entering the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships. Begley’s second World Championship bow saw her move up to the bantamweight division. The opening round saw Begley matched with 2017 IMMAF featherweight World champion, Fabiana Giampa (Italy). 

Begley finished the Italian in the 2nd round via TKO/KO. The improvements made in the space of a year were evident. Riding the momentum of her opening-round victory, Begley drew 2017 bronze medalist Karoline Hulkko (Finland) next. A dominant display saw her advance to the semi-finals, securing a medal position. 

The semi-final did not go to plan for Begley, losing to eventual winner LaNeisha Vinson (USA). Despite the result, she did not leave empty-handed, contributing to the Ireland medal tally alongside SBG and IMMAA teammates Ryan Spillane and Lee Hammond.

The experience of winning a medal in IMMAF and competing at that level was an important part of Begley’s development and transition from amateur to pro.

“The IMMAFs are the highest level of competition for an amateur in MMA and to be able to test myself at that level and medal was a big achievement for me,” Begley told IMMAF.org.

“I really believe every amateur MMA fighter who’s thinking about turning pro should test themselves at the IMMAFs first, the experience you get from fighting people with such different styles is invaluable!” 

She is now preparing to fight on the Emerald Isle for the first time as a pro. This time around Begley will be hoping to return to the success she tasted like an amateur and create more promotional history at Clan Wars 40.

Image credit: Gym+Coffee

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USA in focus – what place does MMA occupy in youth sports? https://immaf.org/2021/02/17/usa-in-focus-what-place-does-mma-occupy-in-youth-sports/ Wed, 17 Feb 2021 09:34:42 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41210

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By Jorden Curran 

In 2017 TIME magazine estimated that the U.S. youth-sports-economy is a $15 billion dollar industry that continues to grow, charting equipment, travel, training and other costs. The pools of youth talent are seeing participants in soccer, American football, baseball and other activities of high popularity begin to navigate lucrative pathways, scholarships and sponsor opportunities. However, it can be a steep financial journey for the millions of parents and families making the long-term investment to see their child have a shot at making it, not to mention the mental pressure that such goals place upon both parent and child, with only 2% of high school athletes going on to play at the top level of college sports and even fewer successfully making it to the professional level. 

As financial equality gaps expand, sport participation is also affected. For families in the States, participation in sport is reported at just 19% for households making $25k income, yet figures rise to 41% for families earning $100k+. As a result, some sports are far more accessible than others and MMA should ensure that low-income families are not left behind.   

Annual cost to families, by sport (Source: TIME, 2017):

Lacrosse – $7,956
Hockey – $7,013
Baseball/softball – $4,044
American football – $2,739
Soccer – $1,472
Basketball – $1,143
MMA – ???

Let’s ask ourselves the question, as “the world’s fastest growing sport”, what space does MMA occupy within the galaxy of youth sports in the USA? With a lack of organised governance towards grass roots development, we in fact have no current way of tracking or knowing for sure what the potential of Youth MMA can be and where it is currently at.
Jon Frank, president of the United States Fight League (USFL), discussed Youth MMA’s current place and its level of opportunity and access for the youth of America. He notes a recognisable absence of engagement in MMA among low-income communities. Such an issue is historically uncharacteristic of martial arts, such as boxing or karate, which over the decades have built themselves on a foundation of community impact and accessibility. 

“We are missing out on a key demographic of participants,” Jon states. “Historically, kids from lower income communities used combat sports to stay out of trouble and many champion boxers came from these low-income areas. Unlike Boxing which has a vast amount of community-based training and competition opportunities, BJJ and MMA are often cost prohibitive and few business owners have been willing to invest in low-income communities. This is something we are working on right now.”

In 2019 the USFL’s youth pankration league produced 34 young athletes who qualified to represent Team USA at the IMMAF Youth MMA World Championships in Rome. The event was the first of its kind for Youth MMA in the world, providing competitive opportunity at an international level with rule sets tailored for safety and divisions for youngsters from the ages of 12 to 17. Team USA blew away the competition with 28 total medals and the nation’s girls in particular produced an unrivalled level of success compared to their international counterparts.  

No doubt, the USA is producing young champions in MMA with equality of opportunity producing an outcome that screams potential for both girls and boys. Yet, as young MMA participants age beyond the youth level, what is the outlook for their sustainability in the sport, and what opportunity does, or can MMA provide as an accessible alternative to the nation’s leading youth activities? 

“ESPN estimates over 6 million kids participate in some form of Martial Arts in the United States. In some ways Martial Arts can be considered a base sport because it’s often the first organized athletic activity parents place their kids in,” Jon explains. “Unfortunately, it is also a base sport because so many quit after completing their black belt programs, as in traditional Martial Arts, and many quit sooner. The draw of more video game time, among other things, is sometimes overwhelming and parents feel conflicted about making their child do an activity that they don’t want to or don’t feel like doing. 

“In comparison, youth Jiujitsu and MMA participation in the United States is unique from other Martial Arts, as participants often stay involved much longer than other traditional forms, especially those who train in gyms that participate in competitions. A little further down the road, many of these kids are also drawn to high-school wrestling which sometimes starts as a supplement to their BJJ or MMA training.” 

However, this stage in life is where young people’s direction can shift once again, as Jon explains, towards new social priorities and core programs such as in wrestling that see MMA practitioners branch away to the singular discipline which offers them more activity.

“Once kids reach high school, new social situations arise such as boyfriends and girlfriends and part time jobs that leaves much less time for athletics. For many good athletes who would otherwise stay involved in MMA, it is high school wrestling that slowly draws them away.  Many kids are unable to physically participate in both activities, but many others just lose interest and focus on wrestling, this is mainly due to the consistent competition opportunities that exist in wrestling as compared to MMA.”

Amateur wrestling is widely renown as the strongest foundation for a professional MMA career, and many veterans of the NCAA college leagues have graced the UFC to capture world titles. Yet, when tracking the UFSL hopefuls as they enter high school, only those who remained active in MMA have continued to prominence as MMA competitors in later life, with many young prospects having dropped out of the sport, never to return, even those who accumulated talent as wrestlers. Top USFL graduates who entered at a youth stage have included the likes of Brian Ortega, Aaron Pico, Kay Hansen, Lucas Brennan, Angela Lee and Christian Lee, to name a few, and most recently, Victoria Lee, who a gold medal during 2019 at the IMMAF Youth World Championships.    

“Many former youth USFL athletes have gone to the highest levels in the professional MMA ranks,” Jon explained. However, he added; “each and every one of these athletes with the exception of one, who was pursuing the Olympics while in High School, remained active in MMA during high school. For those who quit MMA during high school, none, regardless of how talented or gifted, were able to do the same. Not to say this is not possible, but unfortunately the vast majority just never returned to the sport after stepping away for 4 years. 

“None of this is surprising or unreasonable,” Jon adds. “The opportunities in Youth MMA are extremely limited and in most of the United States, unreachable. The prospects of an actual IMMAF Youth World MMA Championships have kept more of the older kids engaged and should help grow awareness of the sport with each consecutive event.” 

The USFL president, who has witnessed the progression of some of MMA’s biggest names in the USA, believes that the advent of an international circuit of youth MMA competitions will have a revolutionary effect on the sport of MMA in general, ushering some of the following developments: 

  1. A larger base of athletes that will increase the number of elite professionals, especially in the female ranks where it is often difficult to match competitors and even harder to salvage matches if one participant withdraws due to injury. 
  2. High level professionals will be younger and healthier, meaning less wear and tear than their counterparts who enter MMA at the end of a previous athletic career. 
  3. Athletes who are brought up in a youth developmental system will have an advantage over those who are not afforded such an opportunity. This may bring dominance to certain nations who embrace this while leaving many others behind. 
  4. Finally, While MMA has been around for over 25 years, it still lacks the recognition of being an actual sport. Even today’s MMA greats who have had rewarding careers will still defer to their base sport when it’s time to give back to the community or promote athletics. It’s hopeful that the advent of Youth development in MMA will finally give the sport a sense of community that is lacking today. As an example, Brazilian Jiujitsu arguably became popular in the United States because of the UFC. Since then, BJJ has essentially split from MMA and offers countless competition opportunities and lifelong participants who view the sport as their sole Martial Art. This may be why the BJJ world has an enormous sense of community while the MMA community does not. 

“They say It takes a community to raise a child,” Jon adds. “The youth version of MMA has been tried, tested and vetted for safety in the United States. It’s time for the greater MMA community to get behind youth participation and young athlete development in order to make MMA both an expressive Martial Arts activity as well as a thoroughly developed sport of opportunity for young people.”

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IMMAF unveils online grading scheme for youth participants https://immaf.org/2021/02/16/immaf-unveils-online-grading-scheme-for-youth-participants/ Tue, 16 Feb 2021 14:48:12 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41207

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The IMMAF Youth Development Commission, following its virtual meeting on 10 February, has prepared new guidelines to allow assessment of the technical competency of young athletes.

In the challenging times of restricted practice and the need of the social distancing, the IMMAF Youth Development Commission recommended that IMMAF national federations, clubs and coaches begin to conduct grading online, when it is not possible to manage examination in the conventional way, in a class in front of peers and parents. 

Following a thorough review of the pilot trials in Hong Kong, the Commission found that an online method was feasible and should be valid, particularly for the first grades Yellow and Orange.

Grading is seen as an important part of a young athlete’s journey within the sport and is a common practice in all mixed martial arts, and therefore coaches should encourage young athletes to continue improving their skills. The chairman of the Youth Development Commission, former MMA pro standout Stanislav Nedkov of Bulgaria said: 

“I would like to thank the IMMAF President Kerrith Brown for empowering the Director of Development Andrew Moshanov and all my colleagues of the Youth Development Commission to develop new pathways for youth MMA athletes. We have done an enormous work during the last few months to create a tool which works, and which is fair and safe. With this tool, we will be able to motivate athletes in their development, so they have the chance to compete internationally and, with God’s grace, one day at Olympic level too.”

Vice Chairman of the Commission, Danny Corr, who is also chair of the MMA for Peace Commission https://immaf.org/2020/07/15/immaf-launches-peace-through-mma-commission/ and driving force behind youth-centric social welfare sport projects in his native Ulster said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to engage our young people especially during these difficult times. IMMAF are leading the way and ensuring our young athletes have the best outcomes and are provided with safe and effective online training and that they are able to grow and develop happily and healthily without the risk of abuse or neglect.”

Mexico is amongst the IMMAF Member Federations who are working hard to implement youth policies. The Mexican Mixed Martial Arts Federation is aware of the importance of developing an orderly and replicable system that allows them to measure the development and knowledge of the students, within their Federation, and many of its own members had their own MMA systems, awarded grades and took exams.

But now, MMA Mexico has worked to implement the IMMAF grading system. According to the Federation President Raul Salas Navarro: “In the last year we have successfully achieved approximately 30 graduations, a number that will increase in the coming months, as due to restrictions imposed to combat Covid 19, Mexico has had to slow down assessments. We believe that the IMMAF grading system is definitely the right way forward for the development of our athletes and is another key milestone in the journey to achieve recognition of the sport at Olympic level.”

Download the Online Grading Policy here.

The Youth Development Commission, which was created by IMMAF at the end of 2019, also discussed the process of managing the mandatory grading process for competitors at the Youth World Championships starting in 2021.

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Mokaev defies Covid challenges to make the grade as a pro https://immaf.org/2021/02/15/mokaev-defies-covid-challenges-to-make-the-grade-as-a-pro/ Mon, 15 Feb 2021 11:35:42 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41204

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By Jake Smith

2020 saw many mixed martial artists, from amateur through to elite professional, struggle to stay active. Muhammad Mokaev may have been the exception to this, enjoying a productive 12 months which saw the former two-time IMMAF Jr World Champion take his career to the next level.

After developing his skill set against athletes from all over the globe on the IMMAF scene and becoming one of the biggest prospects in world MMA, Mokaev made the decision to turn professional. Following discussions with many leading global promotions, including Bellator MMA and One Championship, the 20-year-old opted to sign with Brave Combat Federation.

Throughout his tenure competing across several different IMMAF competitions, Mokaev became the #1 ranked Junior in the world & claimed the Oceania Gold prior to turning professional, amongst several other accolades. His success led to him being invited to train with KHK MMA under HH Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa. After clinching his 2nd Jr IMMAF world title in November 2019, the refugee reflected on his humble beginnings, stating: ”five years ago I was cleaning mats to get free membership. Now I’m here, second time world champion.”

11 of 13 of Mokaev’s victories during his time competing in IMMAF competitions came by way of unanimous decision so it came as no surprise when the bantamweight secured his first professional victory with a dominant unanimous decision over fellow debuting pro Glenn McVeigh. Mokaev put any questions firmly to bed regarding how the young prospect’s skills would carry over to the pro leagues.

Over the next four months, Mokaev entered the cage three times; facing Hayden Sherriff, Jamie Kelly & Dave Jones. A sub-minute TKO stoppage against Sherriff, 3rd round rear-naked choke against Kelly; and Jones tapping to strikes, Mokaev continued to silence any doubters while securing a healthy 4-0-0 record to see out the year.

This led to ‘The Punisher’ having his hand raised for the sixth time – His fourth time as a professional plus his previous two at ameatuer – in 2020.

Although only four fights into his professional career, comparisons between Mokaev and UFC lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov are already being made.

Mokaev is the latest to add his name to the long list of top professional talents who spent their development years on the IMMAF platform. We are very much looking forward to seeing how the former IMMAF stand-out flourishes.

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IMMAF EGM approves statutes changes https://immaf.org/2021/02/13/immaf-egm-approves-statutes-changes/ Sat, 13 Feb 2021 18:08:57 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41196

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The National Federations of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation have today approved changes to the IMMAF Statutes at an Extraordinary General Assembly which commenced at 15:00 hrs. (UTC).

The updates to the Statutes reflect the recommendations of a recent independent, good governance audit carried out of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation. Changes include:

·       the requirement for Annual General Meetings.

·       staggered, four-year terms for a maximum of two terms for Board Directors.

·       athlete representation on the Board

·       a target for 30% female representation on the Board

·       to reflect IMMAF as a Swiss entity

In 2020, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation relocated as a company to Switzerland, the home of the Olympic movement. The appointment of Swiss auditors at Price Waterhouse Cooper was also approved by the assembly.

The motion to change the IMMAF Statutes was approved by 55 to 2 votes, with 2 abstentions and 2 votes discounted by the scrutineers, out of a total of 61 votes. 

The motion to appoint Swiss auditors was approved by 57 votes with 2 abstentions. 

The EGM was attended by 61 full members, with voting rights, as well as observational members. Independent consultants Denis Rowan and Geoff Wilson acted as scrutineers.

Speaking to the assembly, IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commended the ongoing work of the National Federations in the shadow of the global pandemic. He continued to emphasise the significance of the statutes changes that were to be approved at the Extraordinary General Meeting.

“The changes to the statutes that we are implementing today strengthen IMMAF as an organisation through ensuring its processes and procedures adhere to the best standards in good governance and meet the criteria of the IOC as we seek to eventually become an Olympic Sport. In applying to the World Anti-doping Agency and to GAISF, we want to demonstrate that we are setting a benchmark for a gold standard in good governance as we continue to work to change perceptions of our sport. Our strengthened foundation will contribute to the legacy we are creating for MMA’s youth.”

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IMMAF alumni Weeks and Naimov set to feature in UFC Fight Pass double-header https://immaf.org/2021/02/11/immaf-alumni-weeks-and-naimov-set-to-feature-in-ufc-fight-pass-double-header/ Thu, 11 Feb 2021 12:52:52 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41014

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By Caoilte de Barra

On Friday February 12th, two former IMMAF competitors will feature on UFC Fight Pass across two separate events. Darian Weeks (4-0) will be hoping to remain undefeated at LFA 99 while Muhammadjon Naimov (5-1) is looking to capture the featherweight title on Titan FC 67.

Muhammadjon Naimov was the sole representative for Tajikistan at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships. Naimov was unable to get past the quarter finals, losing to eventual tournament winner, Shoaib Yousaf, England. Although, he was impressive in the round of 16 when he finished Italy’s Antonio Lerose.

Following the IMMAF World Championships, Naimov went on to win five fights within a year as an amateur. In 2018 Naimov won his pro debut by way of a referee stoppage and not long after signed a contract with Titan FC, where he has fought for the majority of his pro career to date. After finishing three of his four Titan FC bouts, Naimov earned a spot on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) with his eyes on winning a UFC contract. 

Just over four years on from his IMMAF World Championship debut, Naimov was outpointed by UFC contract winner Collin Anglin on DWCS. The 26-year-old is now hoping to return to winning ways by securing the Titan FC featherweight championship against Olivier Murad.

Over in Park City, Kansas, the undefeated American, Darian Weeks will make his Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) debut against Bellator MMA veteran Craig Fairley. As an amateur, Weeks was regularly seen across IMMAF competitions between 2017 & 2018. 

The exceptional rise of the Missouri fighter could see him reach new highs this coming year. Three victories in as many days saw him win the 2017 UMMAF National Championship Tournament as a middleweight, before representing the U.S. at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships. 

A highly motivated Weeks returned to IMMAF competition in 2018 with a certain poise about him as he dropped down a weight class. Fighting at Welterweight, he won the IMMAF Oceania Open Championships to set him up for a spot in the World Championships. 

The US representative made a statement in his opening bout of the competition by finishing Shadi Morjan in the first round. His next fight turned out to be his last as an amateur, though, as Weeks bowed out of the tournament on a loss.

Having spent most of his amateur career fighting in IMMAF competition, Weeks’ alluded to this experience being pivotal in his transition to the pro game.

“I’ll always be grateful for my time as a competitor under the IMMAF banner. Consistently competing against high-level athletes from around the world helped prepare me for when I transitioned to the pro game. A lot of my success as a professional is because I’ve always embraced the toughest challenges in the cage, and the IMMAF provided me many opportunities to test my skills against world-class competition.”

The fight IQ from competing at a high level as an amateur has been apparent from the beginning of his pro career. Mature, high-level performances have seen Weeks go 4-0 as a pro in MMA along with a sole pro boxing victory. Each display has seen Weeks improve with a new task awaiting him on LFA 99 as he looks to continue his rise.

Both fights can be watched around the world live on UFC Fight Pass.

Photo credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

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IMMAF confirms new qualifications for MMA stand-up and MMA ground https://immaf.org/2021/02/11/immaf-confirms-new-qualifications-for-mma-stand-up-and-mma-ground/ Thu, 11 Feb 2021 07:59:30 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=41001

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The IMMAF Coaching Commission, which met on the 9 February, confirmed its commitment to a coaching pathway which welcomes specialists from other combat sports, whether stand up or ground based. With successful pilot courses held in Australia in 2019 and 2020, IMMAF is now ready to roll out the programme worldwide.

Richie Cranny, chairman of the Commission, said: “I have always been a big believer in encouraging coaches from other sports to consider MMA and we’re giving them a warm welcome to the MMA and IMMAF family. Based on the Australian pilots we have now finalised a coaching pathway into MMA for coaches from different styles and will offer split coaching qualifications for “MMA Stand-Up Coach” and “MMA Ground Coach”.

Andrew Moshanov, IMMAF Development Director said: 

“We welcome specialists from sambo, judo, kickboxing, muay thai, wrestling, boxing to MMA. Their contribution to the methodology of coaching in mixed martial arts will be priceless. They just need to be prepared to rethink the applicability of the techniques of their core sport, review it from a biomechanical standpoint and then adapt their coaching accordingly. Creating pathways that offer early specialisation is not that unusual in high performance sport, and we want ours to lead to a full IMMAF qualification at Level 1, 2 or 3. The sport will flourish if more coaches with a split qualification take their expertise back to their clubs and gyms.”

In the early days of mixed martial arts, MMA was often seen as a mixture of a few combat sports.  Over the years of its development MMA as a sporting discipline became more of a melting pot, where skills of different combat sports underwent transformation and adaptation. Today it is well established as a separate sport, in its own rights, clearly defined with specific rules and distinctive techniques, which “are borrowed” from other sports, but adapted to suit MMA.

During the evolution of the sport to date, very few athletes have been trained trained purely as mixed-martial-artists. Most of them experienced so-called evolution of their core style and technical repertoire as they established themselves as MMA athletes.

Adaptation takes time

Head coach of the Russian MMA Team, Gennadiy Kapshai, who was a former wrestler and professional Thai-boxer himself and is now a member of IMMAF’s Coaching Commission reflects on his own journey:

“It may take an advanced level athlete up to three years to adapt the technique of his core combat sport to the new format of MMA. As for a coach, it may happen sooner. I look back on my own journey from Thai boxing coach (with a decent wrestling base) to MMA coach, I can say it took me a year and a half to review my coaching means and methods to fit the purpose. At that time, I spent 5-6 hours a day in the gym teaching and coaching top athletes.”

IMMAF Board Member and Coaching Commission Member Bertrand Amoussou said: “as a former judo athlete, I know that at the elite level, there are no equally skilled athletes in standing and ground based judo.  We see something very similar now in MMA. There is a common definition of MMA athletes as either strikers, wrestlers, or universals. It seems that their coaches display great competence in one or another area so what IMMAF proposes is an extension of that ethos.”

The IMMAF Coaching Commission also discussed IMMAF’s youth grading format and how to incorporate live drills and is planning a series of Webinars for countries on the youth grading prior to Youth Worlds 2021 as well as proposed amendments to the coaching education syllabus.

For more information about the IMMAF Coaches Commission please contact: Andrew.moshanov@immaf.org

Download the pioneering IMMAF MMA training and grading  application at the App Store or Google Play Store

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Wanted: Marketing & Communications Assistant https://immaf.org/2021/02/11/wanted-marketing-communications-assistant/ Thu, 11 Feb 2021 07:56:07 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40999

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For the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) – the global governing body for the sport of MMA, partnered with the UFC and working to see amateur MMA into the Olympic Games

Read more about IMMAF here

  • 1 day per week or equivalent hours (freelance)
  • Suitable for a graduate or final year degree student in Marketing and Communications (or an essay- based subject such as English Literature)
  • Ideally, London based

The Role

To support the Brand and Communications Director across the following areas:

  • PR
  • Marketing
  • Creative Assets Management 
  • Admin

The Opportunity

  • to work as part of an international sports governing body in the one of the world’s fastest growing sports
  • to gain PR and marketing experience working closely with the Brand and Communications Director, as part of a small team allowing a broad view of the company
  • to benefit from some specific tasks tailored to your areas of interest to help your career development
  • access to industry connections and consultancy for developing your career in sport
  • opportunity to increase hours within IMMAF as the company grows
  • opportunities to assist the MarCom Director at international events working on media operations (currently expensed with a volunteer per diem)

You ..

  • have a high level of English literacy and are good communicator with a clear writing style
  • have a good understanding of narrative
  • are adaptable and show initiative
  • are a collaborative worker
  • can work at speed and are able meet deadlines
  • are able to carry out detailed and focused tasks, but also able to respond quickly and in a timely, professional manner to ad hoc demands
  • enjoy challenges and have a can-do attitude

Example Tasks (with guidance and support provided)

  • writing / copy-editing
  • creating presentations
  • pitching stories to the media 
  • media research
  • coverage reports
  • selecting images for stories, press releases and presentations
  • managing media applications and lists for events
  • writing letters
  • general MarCom admin support 
  • opportunities to provide media operations support at Championships 

TO APPLY PLEASE SEND YOUR CV AND COVERING LETTER TO ISOBEL.CARNWATH@IMMAF.ORG BY 28 FEBRUARY 2021

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New Israeli IMMAF member ISR-MMAF sets out ambitious programme https://immaf.org/2021/02/09/new-israeli-immaf-member-isr-mmaf-sets-out-ambitious-programme/ Tue, 09 Feb 2021 12:45:46 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40996

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In late 2020 the IMMAF board of directors confirmed individual and observational membership to a further four national governing bodies who have joined the  fast growing IMMAF global membership. This included the highly promising Israel MMA Federation (ISR – MMAF), which has recently gained the spotlight of extensive Israeli national sport coverage.  

The first official MMA association now established in Israel as an IMMAF Member has an impressive leadership team and some clearly defined and ambitious plans.

AT A GLANCE: ISR – MMAF GOALS

  • Promote amateur MMA as a sport to represent Israel
  • Increase the number of athletes and coaches
  • Support amateur athletes 
  • Build a vast youth development infrastructure

An extensive team of experts, headed by businessman Gilad Har Oz as chairman, will guide the organisation, with MMA coach and former competitor Ido Pariente acting as CEO, Itzik Rubinov as competition manager and digital director, and Erez Elroy joining the board alongside board member/CFO Ziv Hashi. Furthermore, COO Almog Maimon contributes a decade of grass roots sport development commitments at the community level, working with local authorities, schools and at-risk youth groups.

“It’s about time the sport of MMA gets recognition from the state of Israel, and by securing IMMAF membership, this goal is now possible,” said CEO, Ido Pariente. “We can help develop and support MMA gyms throughout the country. We aim to support and guide the new athletes and coaches whilst developing a national team to represent the country in international events. ISR-MMAF will create a  sport league in Israel that provides a safe and educational environment for athletes as young as 8 years old.” 

The fast-growing reputation of MMA has been well recognised in Israel for the need to govern and develop the sport thoroughly, with aims to bring MMA recognition to the attention of government with an ambitious and “open-minded” vision, featuring a two-year plan to develop the nation’s best performing men and women to represent Israel on the international IMMAF platform.

A national amateur championships circuit will span five events per year with a commitment towards seeing all Israeli MMA clubs integrate their direction within the organisation. The group boasts a proven track record with partners such as Itsik Rubinov having managed the Israeli BJJ league. “We are very happy to be the ones to lead this project and make MMA grow in Israel,” says COO Almog Maimon

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “We are delighted to welcome Israel to the ever expanding list of IMMAF Members. ISR-MMAF’s leadership team includes business experts, former elite level MMA competitors and educators. They all share IMMAF’s vision of creating the best environment for both competitive and recreational athletes with a particular focus on youth. We look forward to working closely with ISR-MMAF.”

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IMMAF youth grading takes off in New Zealand https://immaf.org/2021/02/05/immaf-youth-grading-takes-off-in-new-zealand/ Fri, 05 Feb 2021 14:24:15 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40992

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The IMMAF Youth grading pathway got a welcome boost in New Zealand on 2 February with 23 youngsters getting expert tuition from a team of MMA stalwarts led by NZMMAF Vice President Matt Toa.

The fledging system aims to encourage children, and their parents, to appreciate the excitement and fun of MMA in an environment where safety and security are a top priority.

Matt Toa, who is Head Coach and Gym Owner of the Otago Fight Centre in Dunedin, South Island New Zealand, was delighted with the response not only of the participating young athletes but their parents as well, who are crucial to the development of youth sport systems.

“We had previously been grading the youth at the Otago Fight Centre under our own Hammerhead MMA system until last year when we changed over to the IMMAF grading system,” said Matt.

“We had to tweak and make adjustments to our old system to ensure we covered all the elements in the new syllabus and I am very pleased how it has taken shape.

“It’s great to be able to offer a grading system at our gym that is internationally recognised and it gives our students a solid pathway for the future, whether they intend to compete later or remain as recreational participants, it’s good for them to know their skill-sets.”

On this session Matt and his team awarded the following grades:

Yellow Orange 3
Yellow 3
White Yellow 6
White 11

IMMAF Development Director Andrew Moshanov said: “It’s great to see the example being set by Matt and his team in New Zealand. Getting young people and their families to understand that MMA is both a fun sport and an excellent learning experience is a huge strategic goal for IMMAF. We want as many youngsters to take part in MMA, even at recreational level, and for the most committed of them to compete at international level, and we hope, one day be able to compete even at the Olympics.”

NZ is also known as the “factory of champions” with a steady stream of athletes turning professional. The New Zealand based fight team Hammerhead MMA has produced IMMAF world championship medallists Sarah Archer 2 x bronze strawweight 2015/16, Jess Bradley bronze flyweight 2015 and Hannah Dawson 2 x Silver strawweight 2017/19.

Andrew continues: “NZ has a mighty taskforce of 25 IMMAF certified coaches. I am delighted to see how well NZ coaches are levelling the development of all groups of athletes and paying equal attention to the grass roots, youth, recreational and competitive side of the sport.

For more information about the IMMAF Youth Development programmes please contact the IMMAF Director of Development Andrew Moshanov – andrew.moshanov@immaf.org

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Athletes Commission recruiting active IMMAF competitors – apply now https://immaf.org/2021/02/04/athletes-commission-recruiting-active-immaf-competitors-apply-now/ Thu, 04 Feb 2021 11:02:54 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40990

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The IMMAF Athletes Commission is seeking to recruit two additional guest members, 1 male and 1 female, to join the commission in its representation of athletes worldwide under banner of IMMAF.

The Athlete Commission will propose new members who fulfil the following requirements to the IMMAF Board for approval:

  • At least 18 years old
  • A current amateur MMA competitor registered with their national federation
  • Feature within the latest IMMAF rankings
  • Aim to remain active as a competitor in upcoming IMMAF championships
  • English speaking ability
  • Enthusiasm for understanding and representing the interests of all IMMAF athletes
  • Willing to engage with athletes from different nations to learn and discuss thoughts

The involvement of active IMMAF competitors will be crucial towards the commission’s aim of representing the current generation of amateur athletes. The guest members will leave the commission upon turning professional or exiting the IMMAF rankings, so as to ensure fresh representation of the current generation of competing athletes.

Successful applicants will take part in monthly commission meetings to discuss ongoing developments relating to athletes and will be invited to feature in and pitch further development projects.

For questions or to apply please contact the Athlete Committee liaison: Jorden.curran@immaf.org. Candidates must be nominated via email by their national federation. The deadline for applications is February 12.

For more details on the IMMAF Athletes Commission, view the official terms of reference HERE

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Michael Bisping’s mentor Allan Clarkin completes IMMAF coaching course and says “I still wish to learn” https://immaf.org/2021/02/03/michael-bispings-mentor-allan-clarkin-completes-immaf-coaching-course-and-says-i-still-wish-to-learn/ Wed, 03 Feb 2021 15:35:34 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40984

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A good coach is always learning

Allan Clarkin, the head coach of Black Knights gym, in Burnley, England, has just completed an IMMAF Coaching course. Clarkin, who guided the career of UFC legend Michael Bisping, and is one of Britain’s bestmartial arts coaches, was enthusiastic about his experience.

“I am 69 this month and have been coaching for over 40 years but I still wish to learn and hope to progress onto more courses that IMMAF have to offer,” said Clarkin. “Many people are running clubs/classes or gyms but have never taken a coach award, of any type. I was very impressed with the IMMAF course which gives insight into many aspects of coaching, and will give all those who obtain the certificate a more professional approach, and more credibility. This type of course is a must for all those who are running MMA gyms, I would also say to those who run other style of combat sports, get on this course.”

“The fact that the IMMAF grades syllabus is International is also a feather in the cap,” said Clarkin. “Anyone going to another club anywhere in the world can say, “yes, my standard is as good as yours”. The grade syllabus lays strong foundations, for recreational or competitive standards.”

Andrew Moshanov, IMMAF Director of Development said “We designed the system of coach education to match the coaches’ needs and aspirations so Allan’s reaction is very encouraging. It is vital that all coaches are on the same page, particularly when we talk about progressive introduction of the skills and techniques of such a complex and demanding sport as mixed martial arts.” 

“I agree with IMMAF’s no head shots policy for under 18s”

Allan Clarkin is also very supportive of the IMMAF policy to refuse head shots in competitions for Under 18 athletes. “The reason I decided to work with the IMMAF family, was because of this policy to have a progressive scale of contest development, with no head strikes for young people, which is much needed in Martial Sports. The young person can then decide, when they are 18+. if they wish to compete in the adult groups and accept head strikes, This way, they make the choice, not the parents or a club coach, as regards competing with head strikes,” said Clarkin.

“I believe this underlines the fact that IMMAF offers the highest level of safety in competition, with high level officials who have to undertake in depth courses. Add to this drug testing and standardised contest gear, and it raises IMMAF head and shoulders above the rest as the credible world governing body for MMA.”


IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown: “On behalf of IMMAF, we welcome the supportive words of Allan and are very pleased that someone with decades of experience in combat sport appreciates the hard work that we are doing to regulate and promote the sport of MMA, especially for the benefit of athletes and coaches, who are our key stakeholders.”

Allan and Mike “The Count” Bisping in the “Black Knights Academy” in Burnley, United Kingdom 

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Spotlight on MMA in Barbados during the pandemic https://immaf.org/2021/01/29/spotlight-on-mma-in-barbados-during-the-pandemic/ Fri, 29 Jan 2021 08:42:32 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40958

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The COVID -19 protocols implemented by the government of Barbados have once again disrupted the Barbados Mixed Martial Arts Federation‘s plans to resume contact training and to host events. Despite this, the BMMAF has continued to offer coaching and training to its members, albeit through unorthodox means.

“We have been offering individual training programmes virtually, whether using IMMAF materials or own-created,” reports President Paul A. Forte. “We organise sessions on various days at the beach for non-contact, face-to-face training with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. These periodic physical sessions have helped keep athletes and coaches mentally and emotionally motivated in the sport.”

Based on the success of the non-contact beach training and conditioning, with strict protocols in place, the BMMAF plans to increase these sessions and also to launch non-contact competitions to “provide greater mental stimulation to athletes and coaches during this distressing time.”

“Going forward too,” says Forte, “under government restrictions, we will be evolving our training programmes to incorporate the recruitment, training and further training of young athletes through non-contact activities.”

IMMAF’s Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, expanded on the BMMAF’s recent successes in by congratulating Rollins Ayene as the first coach on the island to become certified under IMMAF. Meanwhile, one of Barbados’ most decorated athletes, Renaldo Stuart, has taken on the role of ambassador for the federation. Besides his accolades in professional and amateur MMA, Stuart has achieved also across sambo, beach-wrestling, pankration, taekwondo, sanda and grappling.

Moshanov commented: “There has been a lot said about ‘a journey in martial arts’. I think today, many athletes outgrow the boundaries of their first core sport and look to extend their journey in the wider family of combat sports and martial arts. Renaldo embodies such accomplishment and continuous personal growth. Isn’t this what sport is meant to be about? “

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “These times are presenting huge challenges to sport, and so it is inspiring to see how proactive and innovative the BMMAF is being in keeping MMA alive and continuing to deliver to MMA’s participants in Barbados. By sharing these experiences, we can learn from each other as we persist in developing the sport and in positively shaping and changing lives.”

Paul Forte and Renaldo Stuart

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IMMAF Gradings mandatory for Youth Championships in 2021 & beyond https://immaf.org/2021/01/26/immaf-gradings-mandatory-for-youth-championships-in-2021-beyond/ Tue, 26 Jan 2021 11:46:01 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40944

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced the mandatory requirement for under-eighteens to be graded under IMMAF as a condition of entry into its Youth Championships.

The criteria will apply for the first time at the 2021 IMMAF Youth World Championships, scheduled for July or August with details to be finalised. The entry requirements will be added to IMMAF Championships Handbooks, and screening processes implemented.  

From July 2021, grading levels required of youth participants across IMMAF Championships will be as follows:

In 2022 and beyond, the grading requirements across IMMAF Championships will be:

The decision was made by the IMMAF Board on 16 December, following a 360° review of the IMMAF Progression Pathway and its relationship to the Competition Pathway – spanning the Coaching, Youth and Regulatory Committees and IMMAF’s Membership. An earlier proposal that grading qualifications should be required of adult athletes has been revoked.

IMMAF promotes the IMMAF Talent Development Pathway – a technical progression scheme – as the tool to establish standards across the sport of MMA.  IMMAF Grades assessments are marked and recorded by IMMAF certified coaches using the IMMAF App, available for free from the App store and Google Play.

IMMAF Director of Development Andrew Moshanov said: 

“We have carried out a lot of work on the coach education and certification front and are happy that the vast majority of IMMAF member nations now have competent, certified coaches who are authorised to roll out the grading of athletes. We should always remember that the grading of young athletes is an important part of their journey in the sport. It provides recognition of their progress, which is paramount, regardless of whether they decide to enjoy MMA purely as a recreational, non-competitive pastime or they wish to try competing. For the latter group of children and teenagers, the 2021 Youth World Championships may be their first international, competitive experience and it is therefore critical that we comply with the requirements of international sport and youth policies and implement safety standards.”

“In the lead up to the Youth Worlds, we will run a series of webinars for the national federations, in which we will explain the gradings process and answer any questions.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“The institution of an entry-level, standard for IMMAF’s youth competitors is a significant milestone in the development of MMA, raising the levels of safety and legitimacy at the grassroots and amateur levels. This will in time enhance the quality of upcoming talent right up through the competitive amateur and professional ranks of the sport.”

IMMAF will be issuing more detailed information and guidance to National Federations. Please contact your National Federation for further information.

Download the pioneering IMMAF application at the App Store or Google Play Store 

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Spain boasts fastest take-up of IMMAF Grading App among MMA coaches & students https://immaf.org/2021/01/21/spain-boasts-fastest-take-up-of-immaf-grading-app-among-mma-coaches-students/ Thu, 21 Jan 2021 18:57:28 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40933

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Director of IMMAF’s national federation in Spain, Antonio García Morales, recalls:

“If we look back several decades, it was at the end of the ‘90s when MMA arrived in Spain under the name of Vale Tudo and Valencia was one of the first Spanish provinces, if not the first, to begin its development.”

It was in 2012 when the Spanish Federation of Olympic Wrestling and DDAA (FELODA) under then president, Mr. Angel López Rojo and then technical director, President Mr. Francisco Javier Iglesias Serna, decided to incorporate MMA into its statutes. The sport was initially listed under ‘Combat Grappling’ since FILA (international wrestling) had it incorporated under this name at the time (under specific rules), and then later in 2015 as MMA (mixed martial arts) under IMMAF.

“In 2015, MMA achieved official sport recognition in Spain. Backed by the government under the CSD (Higher Sports Council), FELODA was granted authority over the national development of MMA and its structures as an Olympic federation.”

Today, Spain has the highest number of athletes (410) and coaches (47) of any nation to be using the state-of-the-art, IMMAF mobile App for training and grading in the IMMAF Technical Progression Scheme for MMA.

IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, reports: 

“All provincial head coaches, across Andalucía, Baleares, Canarias, Cantabria, Asturias, Madrid, Castilla, Galicia, País Vasco and Catalonia are fully trained and certified by IMMAF and are ready to further roll-out the grading system in the regions.”

“We are delighted to be working together with a special department of the Spanish National Sports Council called the National Coaches School, directed by Mr. Javier Prieto and responsible for managing the program and requirements for training coaches. We are currently working towards the full alignment of national and international coaching programs.” 

Alongside the technical progression scheme, which is accessible to all participants of MMA, the Spanish federation has also evolved a competitive pathway. 

Antonio García Morales elaborates:

“MMA competitions in Spain are structured to provide selections for national championships, the winners of which go on to represent the country in IMMAF’s international tournaments. As members of the national team, the selected athletes’ expenses are paid by FELODA and they can formally register as high-performance athletes with all the benefits that this entails.”

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Manon Fiorot symbolises a new era for French martial arts https://immaf.org/2021/01/21/manon-fiorot-symbolises-a-new-era-for-french-martial-arts/ Thu, 21 Jan 2021 16:36:12 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40925

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The incredible performance of Manon Fiorot on Jan 20 at UFC Fight Night was much more than another emphatic debut for a newcomer to the organisation, it was a symbolic demonstration of a new era in French MMA, showing the potential of what French sport can contribute to the top-flight of Mixed Martial Arts.

The 2017 IMMAF bantamweight World champion and European Open silver medallist turned pro in 2018 and stormed into the UFC flyweight division this year with much anticipation, dragging a fearsome win-streak behind her. The 30-year-old striking specialist dissected her UFC rival, Victoria Leonardo, with near flawless balance and footwork, and with takedown defence to boot. The masterful performance saw Fiorot control the distance with her trademark side-kicks and sniper precision shots to set up a highlight reel head kick and subsequent TKO in the second round. 

While French talent in the UFC has been pioneered in previous years by the likes of Cheick Kongo, Cyrille Diabate, Tom Duquesnoy, and most prominently by Francis Ngannou, Fiorot is the first new prospect to emerge since restrictions on MMA in France were lifted and the sport became subject to state governance and development. 

Fiorot ushers the start of a new era for French MMA as a product of France’s embedded combat sport pathway and heritage. Second only to Japan, France is the most successful country in the history of the World Karate Championships, and that prominence sees French karate enjoy government support and a deep national talent pool spanning hundreds of thousands of practitioners. Starting off at the age of seven, Fiorot rose to the top of that great karate population to win a division 2 national championships and progressed to place third in the elite first division and joined the world leading French national team. She later went on to accumulate a 15-0 amateur K-1 record and two national titles before transitioning to MMA.

Fiorot at 2017 IMMAF World Championships

Fiorot’s use of the IMMAF platform could not have been more beneficial while representing France’s national MMA team. The learning curve that she was provided undoubtedly set her up for success as a professional. Fiorot took to the elite amateur level for the first time at the 2017 IMMAF European Open in Sofia and progressed to the final where the wrestling of world champion Cornelia Holm got the better of the French standout who took home the silver medal. Later that year, Fiorot entered the 2017 IMMAF World Championships and was not taken down once as she cruised to the gold medal. 

Fiorot’s professional transition also marked a dramatic evolution of fighting style; no longer is she the evasive striker cautiously maintaining distance while in the process of adapting her skillset, she has become a highly aggressive and threatening striker, confidently pressing in the face of opponents and all the more-scary with a controlled dispatch of pinpoint ferocity, doing so with poise and balance that is simply second-nature at this point of her martial arts evolution.

The IMMAF believes that Manon’s triumphant and calculated journey can blaze a new trail and highlight further opportunity to the world class products of French combat sport, from karate and beyond, with avenues to develop their abilities and secure professional careers in MMA, taking France to new heights within the world’s fastest growing sport.

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IMMAF CEO comments on extended brain health collaboration between UFC & Cleveland Clinic https://immaf.org/2021/01/19/immaf-ceo-comments-on-extended-brain-health-collaboration-between-ufc-cleveland-clinic/ Tue, 19 Jan 2021 10:11:50 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40898

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UFC Provides $1 Million Contribution to Fund Research for the Next Five Years

Study Examines Effect of Head Impacts on Long-term Brain Health

IMMAF CEO Densign White has commented on UFC® ‘s recently announced five-year extension of its longstanding collaboration with Cleveland Clinic and continued support of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study, highlighting the work carried out by IMMAF in the same space.

‘The UFC should be applauded for their commitment to athlete welfare, and this type of research will benefit amateur athletes as well as the pros. It is as equally important for us at IMMAF to protect our athletes as they continue along the performance pathway to the professional level. 

‘I am proud too of the work of the IMMAF to improve athlete health and wellbeing. Our gold standard medical protocol, safe weight management policy, enhanced protective equipment design, the single fight per day policy, Anti-Doping programme and the decision of the IMMAF board to implement a no-headshot policy for youth have all been ground-breaking in the combat sports space.’

ABOUT THE UFC® & CLEVELAND CLINIC COLLABORATION

The multi-year commitment from UFC to the Cleveland Clinic and Professional Athletes Brain Health Study is supported by a $1 million contribution to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, ensures that research will continue to help determine the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma and factors that put certain individuals at higher risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Since joining the landmark study in 2011, UFC has committed more than $2 million via three rounds of financial support.

Now entering its 10th year, this study – led by Cleveland Clinic’s Charles Bernick, M.D., and Aaron Ritter, M.D. – is the largest of professional athletes exposed to repetitive head trauma and the first to include retired and active male and female fighters concurrently.

The Professional Athletes Brain Health Study (formerly the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study) was established in 2011 to examine the cumulative effects of repetitive concussive and sub-concussive impacts to the brain in a group of professional fighters. The study has since expanded to include athletes in other sports exposed to repetitive head impacts (RHI), including professional bull riders. Information from this project will help guide new policies and practices that can improve brain health in sports and others exposed to RHI in military or civilian populations. 

UFC’s commitment to aid in the funding of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study is provided in conjunction with other organizations in the combat sports industry and facilitates ongoing progress in answering critical questions regarding the long-term effects of exposure to RHI that affect both athletes competing in sports and active-duty military personnel.

To date, the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study has enrolled more than 800 active and retired athletes. Participation is voluntary. Athletes in the study receive free, ongoing assessments of brain health and function, including MRI scans. Individual tests are repeated annually for a minimum of four years.

The longer an athlete is assessed, the more valuable information will be amassed. However, during the past 10 years, researchers have detected subtle effects of RHI on brain structure and proteins released in the blood following impact. These changes can be measured over time and may be early indicators of brain injury, bringing researchers one step closer to helping athletes proactively make informed decisions about their careers based on personal brain health data. Additionally, as CTE researchers nationwide prepare to begin clinical trials, the Repetitive Head Impact Composite Score developed from data in the study will be critical in determining the effectiveness of new therapies.

As the study embarks on the next decade of research, investigators will focus on social determinants to better understand how one’s environment impacts the onset of CTE pathology, as well as the role of neuroinflammation within the brain in the immediate aftermath of head trauma.

“Exposure to repetitive head trauma puts a person at risk for the development of cognitive changes that may occur years after an athlete has retired,” said Dr. Ritter, co-primary investigator of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study. “The science coming out of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study is clearly showing us that not all individuals experience cognitive changes, and each individual may be affected in different ways.

“Our study is unique because we are attempting to look at all of these factors — whether they are genetic, inflammatory, based on the number of fights, time between fights, etc.— simultaneously to determine which are most important in keeping an athlete’s brain healthy. The key for the next 10 years is to discover which factors are most crucial in each individual. The Professional Athletes Brain Health Study is the largest and longest-lasting study to look at this issue. Without the support of the UFC, a study like this would never happen.”

(photo credit: Jeffrey J Coleman / Shutterstock.com)

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IMMAF celebrates certification of first CARICOM coaches from Jamaica https://immaf.org/2021/01/15/immaf-celebrates-certification-of-first-caricom-coaches-from-jamaica/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 16:25:58 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40894

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IMMAF congratulates its first CARICOM coaches for their attainment of level 1 certification in MMA coaching.

Recently elected MMA Jamaica Sports Federation President, Matthew Colquhoun, along with experienced martial artists and mixed martial artists, Lawrence Kareem, Simpson Osanie (Fight For Peace) and Osanie Miller, were awarded their IMMAF licenses in the past week.

MMAJSF President Matthew Colquhoun

Colquhoun, who is three- time Pan American gold medallist in Combat Sambo and a renowned wrestler, commented:

“As the new President of the MMA Jamaica Sports Federation I look to bringing the vibrant energy of youth into the development of the sport of MMA in my country. Getting this certification is the first step.  I look forward to completing the other levels and encouraging all members and athletes to get certified as well. I truly appreciate the work of the IMMAF team in uniting stakeholders in the Caribbean region, as well as around the world. I look forward to continuing this great work together.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“I’m proud of our coaches’ hunger to learn and to continue to develop the sport during this period, despite the crippling impact of the pandemic on gyms worldwide. This attainment of the IMMAF Coaching qualification by Jamaican coaches puts a stake in the ground regionally, and I hope to see our other Caribbean nations follow raising the quality of MMA coaching and athlete development there.”

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IMMAF announces Anti-doping Athletes’ Rights Act https://immaf.org/2021/01/15/immaf-announces-anti-doping-athletes-rights-act/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 16:15:20 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40892

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Pictured: IMMAF Athlete’s Committee Chairman, Irman Smajic

An Anti-doping Athletes Rights Act has been approved by the Executive Board of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation as recommended by IMMAF’s Athletes’ and Anti-doping Commissions.

The purpose of the act is to ensure that athlete rights within Anti-Doping are clearly set out, accessible and universally applicable.

While IMMAF’s Anti-Doping Policy has been created for the protection of the athletes’ fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport for reasons of health and fair-play, it is also imperative that athletes’ rights are clearly stated, that athletes are aware of those rights and can exercise them.

The Act, which adheres to the World Anti-doping Code is made up of two parts: Part one sets out the rights outlined in the IMMAF Anti- Doping Policy, while part two sets out recommended athletes’ rights in practice. Medical Treatment and Protection of Health Rights, Right to Justice, Right to Education, Right to Data Protection and Whistle-blower Rights are among the rights included in the act.

IMMAF Athletes’ Commission Chairman and veteran world gold medallist, Irman Smajic, commented:

“The athletes, their safety and rights are among our main priorities at IMMAF and the new IMMAF Athletes’ Act is a testament to that.”

IMMAF’s Anti-doping Consultant and Anti-Doping Commission Chairwoman, Michele Verroken, said:

“IMMAF Athletes are fully engaged with clean and fair MMA. I am delighted to see that they have reviewed the Athlete Act, adding to the document important responsibilities for IMMAF coaches and officials to incorporate into practice, helping us promote the health and safety of the sport. With the introduction of the 2021 WADA Code, IMMAF has revised its policies and procedures to comply fully with its obligations. We have always prioritised education and health, and we consider the new Code as the opportunity to re-double our efforts to engage with national federations to support the delivery of CLEAN and FAIR MMA. Our athletes know how important this is to ensure the sport continues to attract a diverse population.  Having adaptations to our Anti-Doping policies for young people, for women and for minority groups, we want MMA to be accessible to all and for clarity of its anti-doping message, in the spirit of true sport.

See IMMAF Anti-doping Athletes Rights Act here.

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African nations continue education boom for MMA coaches https://immaf.org/2021/01/15/african-nations-continue-education-boom-for-mma-coaches/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 10:51:54 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40884

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The African nations of IMMAF sparked a boom in education for newly licensed MMA coaches in recent years and the momentum was not halted the 2020 global pandemic.

IMMAF and its members have now enjoyed exceptional programs in South Africa, Algeria, Mauritius, Zambia and Cameroon, with new studies opened up in Nigeria, Tunisia and Egypt with further nations including Ghana, Namibia and other regions joining the waiting list.

From 2019 to 2020 IMMAF held 4 coach education and certification programs, hosted by South Africa and Algeria, for all registered coaches of IMMAF member nations within the continent. Since March of 2020 the education process entered distance learning mode with online theory lessons, to be followed with practical assessment of coaching skill once travel and contact restrictions are lifted.

“IMMAF adopted immediately to the pandemic’s effect by restructuring the coaching course from the classroom set up to online education,” Dr Andrew Moshanov, Development Director, explained. “We turned to ZOOM online seminars to explain and share specific topics to coaches requiring more information to sharpen their tools. The national federations have arranged a number of seminars with Cameroon leading by example and South Africa reaching the highest number of certified coaches.”

Establishing a digital connection with the sport of MMA has been an important step. The IMMAF grading APP is the most required tool in MMA development pathways. The digital record of progression encourages athletes and coaches, recognises their hard work and highlights skill development. With such developments, MMA is not only moving fast in popularity, but is now equipped to cover and track all required fields to keep sport safe and moving to higher levels of growth that can be recorded.

Dr Moshanov added, “Governments of Africa are reacting swiftly to new MMA development coming on their doorsteps and are working together with their national organisations in the first steps to giving the support they really need. The landscape of MMA as a well-developed sport in Africa will surprise us all in the months to come. IMMAF’s message to athletes, coaches and groups working on developing the sport of MMA is that IMMAF has the resources you need, and they are available to all.”

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Hong Kong coaches are IMMAF certified through experimental online examination https://immaf.org/2021/01/14/hong-kong-coaches-are-immaf-certified-through-experimental-online-examination/ Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:55:10 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40877

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(Andrew Chan, President of Hong Kong MMA Federation shares his experience of working in the current circumstances)

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of activities to a halt, but it couldn’t stop us from moving forward towards our goal. Back in June 2020, the Hong Kong Federation put forward a proposal to certify its coaches through an online examination.  Leading the initiative were head coach Alberto Mina, an ex-UFC professional, and Jon Bond of Club “Hybrid”.  The two candidates participated in a two-month program designed by Alberto according to the IMMAF Syllabus.  With the aid of the “Teach Me” videos in the IMMAF Mobile App, the candidates were able to gage the standard which IMMAF expects of its certified coaches.  

The examination was carried out online through multiple sessions in which the coaches were tested on their teaching delivery of the moves, theory and methodology, and most importantly, their understanding of the psychological aspect of teaching martial arts. Cameras and audio-speakers were setup to enable Andrew Moshanov, the IMMAF Director of Development, to observe, instruct, and educate the candidates throughout the examination.  

The newly certified coaches are Andy Tang and Donald Tong. Andy is a professional MMA athlete under “JUST MMA” with a Brown Belt in BJJ . Donald is an experienced MMA coach at the “Sensory Fight Club” and is passionate about teaching kids and young adults.

Hong Kong Federation President Andrew Chan commented:

 “We put this plan together with the aim of encouraging other federations to continue in our mutual mission of promoting MMA, even during this difficult time.  We thank IMMAF for supporting this initiative and will continue to find ways for our members to develop in and enjoy the sport.”

IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, commented: 

“It was a great experience and the IMMAF Coaching Committee is fully supportive of this pilot and its evolution. We are entering a new era, in which we will have to rethink our approaches to coach education and training, using the power of IT technologies. While sports training methodology remains the cornerstone of the athletes’ progress, we are reviewing and reformatting traditional modes of assessment and will continue to experiment with forms that can be implemented through remote engagement and maintain interaction with coaches and athletes around the world.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“In the COVID era, it is vital to sport – particularly at the grassroots – that it is innovative. Digital platforms create new opportunities for sports federations to continue delivering to participants world over, continuing to promote the health and social benefits of sport and moreover inclusive sports practice for all.”

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IMMAF Calls Extraordinary General Assembly https://immaf.org/2021/01/14/immaf-calls-extraordinary-general-assembly/ Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:50:13 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40875

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The IMMAF Board of Directors has called an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Presidents of IMMAF National Federations, which is to be held online on Saturday 13 February 2021 at 15.00 hrs. (London GMT), with the following agenda and proposals for decisions:

  • To approve the amendments to the IMMAF statutes.
  • To approve the appointment of Swiss auditors.

In response to the recommendations of a recent independent, good governance audit, IMMAF is seeking to amend its Statutes to include: 

  • the requirement for Annual General Meetings.
  • staggered, four-year terms for a maximum of two terms for Board Directors.
  • athlete representation on the Board
  • a target for 30% female representation on the Board
  • to reflect IMMAF as a Swiss entity

In 2020, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation relocated as a company to Switzerland, the home of the Olympic movement, rendering the need for the appointment of Swiss auditors.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:

“In IMMAF’s ongoing bid for improvement, we are requesting the approval of members to changes in the IMMAF Statutes to meet best practice in good governance. The changes will also serve to strengthen IMMAF’s robustness as an organisation. Likewise, IMMAF’s move to Switzerland is set to benefit IMMAF as an organization, opening new opportunities for its development, growth and promotion. We look forward to the support of IMMAF’s membership in implementing necessary process to finalise our relocation.”

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IMMAF launches young MMA Journalists competition https://immaf.org/2021/01/13/immaf-launches-young-mma-journalists-competition/ Wed, 13 Jan 2021 06:23:27 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40872

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is pleased to announce its first annual Young MMA Journalists Competition.

Two winners will be awarded the opportunity to report on the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan in November /December 2021 (TBA), under the training and mentorshipof a senior journalist with decades of experience in covering elite, international sport. Travel, accommodation and routine daily costs will be covered by the IMMAF.

The winners’ written and audio-visual work about the action and news around the championships will be published on official IMMAF platforms.The journalists will receive training, remotely in advance of the event as well as onsite, also with guidance from IMMAF’s communications team. 

The purpose of the competition is to help develop MMA journalists of the future. The project hopes to attract young people from around the world and reflect diversity in both gender and background.

Award-winning Olympic journalist, former Associated Press editor and mentor for the IOC Young Reporters’ Programme, Steve Wilson, commented on behalf of IMMAF’s Marketing and Communications Commission:

“The IMMAF Young Reporters programme reflects the global, youth-oriented focus of the IMMAF and its commitment to developing the MMA journalists of the future. The programme represents the chance of a lifetime for two young journalists to receive professional training and report on the sport’s biggest event. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”    

HOW WILL THE REPORTERS BE CHOSEN?

This opportunity is open to any young person worldwide who is not a professional journalist and is 26 or under. 

To enter, provide the following to isobel.carnwath@immaf.org by the following date: 

  1. CV – A one-page curriculum vitae or resume detailing your education and any work experience in reporting sport and/or in operating cameras and editing material for audio-visual material.
  2. SUMMARY – A 250-word summary in English saying why you want to be part of the project and what you hope to do in your future career. 
  3. EXAMPLE OF WORK – A 400-word written story in English OR a selection of edited audio-visual interviews or reports (maximum duration 3 minutes) which you have carried out in reporting MMA or any other sport or live news events.
  4. PUBLISHED WORK – Links or pdfs of any published works, if applicable
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA – Links to any key posts on your social channels that you feel would support your submission / illustrate your portfolio / style

The audio-visual interviews can be conducted in another language. The subject matter does not have to be MMA, but the material must have been filmed and edited by the candidate.

The event must be something you have covered in person. It cannot be an event watched on TV, but it could also be any type of interview you have carried out. Any level of MMA or sport can be covered – from school or youth to professional level.

The standard of English for the written work does not need to be perfect but must reflect your ability without significant help from anybody else. 

DEADLINE

The competition opens today, 13 January 2021 and closes at midnight GMT on 31 March 2021.

Submissions will be judged by a panel of experienced journalists and media professionals from around the world.  Successful candidates will be informed of the results by the end of June 2021.

JUDGING CRITERIA

Entrants will be judged based on the quality of the submissions, their enthusiasm and long-term promise and potential.

ENQUIRIES

For enquiries contact isobel.carnwath@immaf.org

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OFFICIAL RULES (TERMS & CONDITIONS)

By submitting your entry, you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms below (“Rules”).

1. The IMMAF Young Journalists Competition is open to any young person worldwide who is not a professional journalist and is 26 or under.

2. All decisions of the IMMAF Competition organisers and judges are final. After entrants have submitted their work the Competition’s organisers and judges will not enter into any correspondence with entrants on the subject of entries and Awards.

3. All entrants must be persons who are 18 years of age or older on or before 31 March 2021.

4. No entry fee is payable.

5. Applicants must submit all written work in English Language. Applicants can submit video entries in any language but is advisable to include subtitles or submit with an English translation since English is the official language of IMMAF and the common language in which judges’ assessments will be held. 

7. Applicants are strictly limited to a maximum of one entry. 

8. Videos should be submitted in MP4 format.

9. Entries should be made in accordance with the instructions given in the entry criteria and must be submitted on, or before, 12 pm UTC on March 31, 2021. Entries arriving after this date will not be accepted.

10. It is the responsibility of the entrant to provide complete and accurate information. The IMMAF Awards’ organisers will not be liable for errors or omissions in the entry material.

11. Entries and information contained within any entry (including supporting documents) must have been obtained legally, must not infringe any copyright or other intellectual property rights, must not be defamatory or breach any privacy law, and must not breach any other law or regulation.

15. If an entrant is found to have breached these Rules or acts in any way that brings or would be likely to bring the reputation of the IMMAF into disrepute, the Competition’s organisers reserve the right to disqualify an entrant or to remove or withdraw an Award.

17. The entrant grants the IMMAF unrestricted, unfettered and irrevocable non-exclusive rights in all works submitted for entry into the Competition (or where such rights are owned by a third party, the entrant shall procure that such third party grants such rights) for the IMMAF to use such works only in conjunction with objectives of the Competition including for the purposes of promoting the Competition, presenting the nominations, having the panel of judges determine the winners and making the finalist and winners entries available to the public. 

18. Finalists selected by the Jury will be invited to participate in the mentorship programme. The IMMAF shall pay for all flights, and arrange transportation, accommodation and certain scheduled meals/ expenses and will provide visa assistance for the entrant (“Travel Arrangements”). Arrangements will be confirmed with the selected entrant closer to the travel date on the basis of one adult, return flights and hotel accommodation. Travel Arrangements are not transferable, exchangeable nor redeemable for cash.

19. The IMMAF will not be held liable for cancellation or postponement of the Championships event. Where cancellation occurs, IMMAF will offer the mentorship award at a subsequent IMMAF Championships.

20. The IMMAF shall not be liable in any way for any loss or damage whatsoever suffered (including, without limitation, indirect or consequential loss) or for any loss or damage or personal injury suffered or sustained in connection with the Competition except any liability that cannot be excluded by law. All entrants indemnify IMMAF Competition organisers, IMMAF and their related parties against any loss or damage (either direct, indirect, consequential or otherwise) arising from the entrant’s participation in the Competition.

21. Participation in the IMMAF Young Journalists Competition is not open to IMMAF staff, members of the Jury and IMMAF Committee members.

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Engaging women and girls in MMA https://immaf.org/2021/01/11/engaging-women-and-girls-in-mma/ Mon, 11 Jan 2021 09:36:23 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40866

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The IMMAF has completed a progressive new awareness guide: Engaging Women and Girls in MMA. The document serves as informative insight for national MMA federations and regional women’s commissions seeking direction on grass roots issues of engaging women and girls; how MMA can provide a welcoming setting and consider existing barriers that women encounter towards sport participation.

Produced by IMMAF Development Consultant – Jorden Curran, in conjunction with the IMMAF Women’s Commission and with forewords from Women’s Commission Chair – Hayzia Bellem and IMMAF CEO – Densign White, the campaign highlights areas of awareness towards sport participation issues faced by women, identifying social and personal barriers, implications and practise towards engaging women and girls at the grass roots level of mixed martial arts, with a view to improving recreational and entry level opportunity that demonstrates a new start with MMA to be a welcoming, fun and fulfilling pastime for all individuals, that in turn will contribute to the progression of more coaches and elite level practitioners for future generations.   

“I think this looks really helpful and is a great insight,” IMMAF world champion Michelle Montague commented. Representing the New Zealand national team, Montague is a fast-rising star of amateur MMA and is undefeated as a two-time Oceania Open champion and 2019 World Championships gold medallist in the lightweight division.

Montague adds, “In particular, from my position in the sport I agree that women’s-only classes should be available and that our qualified women should be coaching both men and women groups too – not just one gender. I can see huge growth potential here in New Zealand and I’m sure it can be the same around the world for women in MMA. We have so many role models and high-level combat athletes to work with while also reaching out to newcomers and recreational participants, to show that you can get involved and enjoy yourself. I’m super excited for this!”

To access the PDF on Engaging Women and Girls in MMA, click the download link HERE.

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Kosovo NOC welcomes MMA into Olympic family https://immaf.org/2021/01/05/kosovo-noc-welcomes-mma-into-olympic-family/ Tue, 05 Jan 2021 15:20:56 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40844

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On December 27 the Kosovo Olympic Committee (KOC) announced the completion of its Annual Working General Assembly after postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With the Assembly also being observed by representatives of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Acting Secretary General, Iber Alaj, and Acting Director of the Department of Sports, Fitim Arifi, the Kosovo MMA Federation – representing the sport of mixed martial arts – was on the agenda alongside other sports subsequently accepted via a committee vote to receive full membership within the KOC.  

President of the Kosovo MMA Federation, Besart Berisha (pictured below), himself a former amateur MMA competitor, thanked the KOC via social media, he stated: “Thankyou Kosovo Olympic Committee, thank you to all the sports federation in Kosovo for accepting Kosovo’s Federation of Mixed Martial Arts into the big Olympic family. We will work hard and make you and all of Kosovo proud.”

Speaking with IMMAF.org, he added: “We are honored, now we are fully accepted with full rights. The Ministry has been looking to let us wait but we are a strong federation with young, disciplined people who are very motivated. It is a privilege for this to have been acknowledged by the KOC and in the new year we are pushing forward for recognition under the Ministry also. We look forward to working together for the great progress of MMA and all sport in Kosovo.”

Kosovo now adds to the substantial list of over 40 IMMAF member nations recognised by their national government and/or Olympic Committee. Other IMMAF members with recognition under their Olympic Committee include Bahrain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Finland, Norway Moldova, South Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.    

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IMMAF CEO’s end of year message to members https://immaf.org/2020/12/31/immaf-ceos-end-of-year-message-to-members/ Thu, 31 Dec 2020 10:22:09 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40836

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Firstly, I would like to thank IMMAF’s membership for its impressive work in a year which has been extraordinarily difficult and challenging for many. At IMMAF, we’re proud of the determination you have shown, your will power and resourcefulness in keeping your national members engaged, active and focused. The national federations form the backbone of IMMAF and without your support and belief in the strategic direction and projects of the international federation, our work would be much more difficult.

Many of our federations have continued to establish important relationships at a national level with their governments and Olympic committees, who have in turn given their support to IMMAF in our plight for international recognition within the Olympic family. We are optimistic that there will be positive developments in the coming months.

We look forward, too, to being reunited with you all in the new year, with a full calendar of events planned for the latter half of 2021 and preparations already underway. It will be challenging to execute, in the current climate, but we have every confidence in our power to achieve all our goals when the whole MMA community is moving in the same direction.

We can also look forward to meeting you all virtually, before then, as we will be calling an Extraordinary General Meeting in early 2021 regarding proposed changes to the statutes, with respect to raising the standards for good governance within IMMAF.  Members can expect to receive a formal notification about this meeting before the year ends.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you, our members, again for your sterling work and congratulate those of you recognised in the 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards.  Thank you also to all who participated in and supported our Technical Seminar Week. Finally, I would like to wish all our members a Merry Christmas and a happy, successful and safe New Year.

Densign White
IMMAF CEO

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IMMAF President’s year in review https://immaf.org/2020/12/24/immaf-presidents-year-in-review/ Thu, 24 Dec 2020 13:05:16 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40833

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2020 launched with a trailblazing moment for MMA, as the sport finally secured a long-fought-for breakthrough in France with legalisation and official recognition under the French Boxing Federation (FFB). 

March saw Australia’s Gold Coast give host to the 2020 Oceania Open Championships with the continental live streamed for the first time on IMMAF TV. Not only did the tournament showcase a significant rise in the technical level of the athletes, with the participation of world gold medallists, but also showed a boost in female participation due to dedicated support funding from IMMAF. Regional female standouts included New Zealand’s Michelle Montague, who earned Best Performance of the Year for her final against Jenni Kivioja of Finland, and breakthrough Aussie talent, Olivia Ukmar, who earned her first IMMAF gold.

The remainder of our 2020 Championships calendar hit the rocks in April, with the global onset of the pandemic forcing complete cancellation. The IMMAF team maximised the time opportunity to turn its attention to other areas:

In April, IMMAF launched a new website as part of its brand refresh and digital makeover. We upped our communications with the retention of a Social Media Manager, hire of a webmaster and investment in professional photographers and content creators.

That month we also initiated the MMA is A Sport petition, as part of our campaign for sport recognition, garnering over 20,000 signatures across change.org and private petition pages plus some significant news coverage. The petition re-sparked communications with GAISF, at which point we tapered off the campaign to facilitate negotiations.

IMMAF also worked to improve its governance and organisational structures: A 360 independent review was carried out to measure our performance against flagship international standards in good governance, with the report recommendations being implemented now. In 2021, IMMAF will undergo a further external audit by the Sport Integrity Global Alliance, as an Early Adopter of the SIGA Standards, with the goal of attaining the SIGA Bronze Standard in good governance.

2020 was also the year in which IMMAF moved its company registration from Sweden to Switzerland, the hub of international sport and home to the Olympic dream.

Our committees and commissions underwent an overhaul and an expansion, and now total 16 in number to include a dynamic new Women’s Commission and a Peace through MMA Commission, focused on youth-centred, social development projects.

IMMAF continued to increase its membership to 120 nations, of which almost 50 are formally recognised by their National Olympic Committee or National Sports Authority. New members welcomed to our family include federations in Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Guatemala, Kosovo, Slovenia, Netherlands, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Israel, Mongolia, Cayman Islands and Saint Martin.

In other areas IMMAF developed its Anti-doping Policy Framework to include an Anti-doping Education Plan and an Athletes Act, to be formally announced shortly, and partnered with the WADA ADeL e-learning platform. The IMMAF progression pathway, coaching and certification systems continued to evolve, extending down to programmes for 4 – 11 year olds, and coaches’ education moved online. We also notably brought to market the first certified IMMAF Fighting Area (MMA Ring), in response to demand from our National Federations.

IMMAF hosted two further events in 2020 as IMMAF Technical Seminar Week and the IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards moved online. The digital platforming facilitated the highest engagement we have had yet in either event, providing us with a new option to consider for the hosting of like events post-pandemic.

Not least, I would also like to commend the work of the IMMAF CEO, Densign White this year: The head of the IMMAF administration was listed for the Queen of England’s Birthday Honours in the form of an MBE, was nominated for Leading Man in the Fighters Only Awards and was invited to join SIGA’s Task Force on Equality and Diversity in Sport.

All this work contributes to the realisation of IMMAF’s ultimate vision of Olympic recognition: I can proudly say that on account of our work and that of our national federations we are well worthy of that accolade. Unfortunately, underhand politics continued to shape decision-making at GAISF and we were disappointed in June again when GAISF rejected IMMAF’s application for a second time. Meanwhile, having postponed our legal case against WADA to allow them time to review and change their statutes (hopefully in our favour), the case now resumes with a hearing date set for January 2021.

Our journey, and that of many of you, has been difficult this year, but as described, we have been afforded time for strategising, creative advancement and self-improvement. We have not slacked in our endeavour to meet the highest integrity standards, in line with the values of our sport. If we keep up the momentum, I have no doubt that we can obtain our Olympic dream within the decade. Central to this vision is youth progression, which will be core to IMMAF’s sport development in 2021. We will also be focusing on building our consumer reach and commercial opportunities. We should feel confident in the strong platform we have established and enhanced this year to head into 2021 ready to drive forward with a full calendar of events to greater media attention than ever before.

I would like to close by thanking WMMAA founder Vadim Finkelchtein and IMMAF founders August Wallen and George Sallfeldt for their unending commitment to our unified vision. I am grateful to the Presidents and Members of our National Federations for their unwavering support and ongoing belief, especially in the face of hardship wrought by COVID-19.  I thank the board, the CEO, IMMAF staff and volunteers for their dedicated work and loyalty. I am personally grateful for the support given by Lawrence Epstein, Denitza Batchvarova and Dave Shaw at UFC and well as Jahangir Riaz at Green Hill. And lastly I would like to thank our longstanding commercial partners UFC, Green Hill, Safejawz, Sportradar, MyNextMatch, Abingdon Advisory and new partner, Global Sports Technology, and our integrity partners, Safe MMA, Peace and Sport, WADA ADeL and the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA).

I wish each and every one of you a safe and peaceful winter holiday period and every success for 2021.

Yours in Sport,

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown

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IMMAF President visits Tajikistan, attends National Championships & meets with Nation’s Leaders https://immaf.org/2020/12/23/immaf-president-visits-tajikistan-attends-national-championships-meets-with-nations-leaders/ Wed, 23 Dec 2020 09:47:36 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40816

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IMMAF president, Kerrith Brown, was an honored guest of the Tajikistan Mixed Martial Arts Federation (TAJMMAF) as the domestic governing body staged its annual Amateur MMA Republican Championships for junior and senior athletes on 12-13 December in Dushanbe city, the event also served as national team qualifying for the 2021 IMMAF World Championships. 

The TAJMMAF is a standout member of IMMAF affiliate nations for proactivity of sport development and government relations. The National Championship featured the participation of 160 athletes but without spectators due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

“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,” the national body commented.

Furthermore, the visit provided opportunity to organize meetings with the stakeholders of the MMA in Tajikistan. The IMMAF President met with the Vice-Minister of the Sports and Youth of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Dilshod Nazarov, alongside TAJMMAF President, Mr. Davron Juraev, discussing the continued development and promising future of MMA, underpinned by the importance of technical progress for youth participation.

Together with the Vice-Minister of Sports of Tajikistan, the IMMAF President visited the new Sport Complex in Dushanbe city, which is one of the largest in the Central Asian Region. 

Meetings were also held with the General Secretary of the National Olympic Committee of Tajikistan, Mr. Erkin Latipov. It agreed that Amateur MMA needs the recognition of authorities as an Olympic sport. Mr. Latipov noted that he maintains close cooperation with the TAJMMAF in developing Amateur MMA in Tajikistan.

After the completion of the Championships, Mr. Brown and Mr. Juraev were interviewed in National Sport Television – “TV Varzish” and highlighted the differences between professional MMA and Amateur MMA, the reasons why Amateur MMA should be recognized as an Olympic sport, and the results of the Republican Championship. 

By promoting the healthy goals of the IMMAF and its members for the favor of athletes and positive perceptions of Amateur MMA, the TAJMMAF took another step forward among its national authorities for the development of Amateur MMA in the Republic of Tajikistan.

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Plethora of Amateur Veterans Shine as Pros in 2020 https://immaf.org/2020/12/21/plethora-of-amateur-veterans-shine-as-pros-in-2020/ Mon, 21 Dec 2020 11:29:34 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40810

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In 2020 the global pandemic sparked a turbulent year for Mixed Martial Arts, forcing cancelations of the sport’s marquee showcases, worldwide. Following the 2020 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships in Australia, the vast global projects that comprise amateur MMA’s elite competition platform faced cancellation of the remaining IMMAF 2020 competition circuit.   

This year’s Oceania Open was the event’s most compelling instalment to date, taking place in Gold Coast with national teams of Australia and New Zealand joined by international rivals such as Bahrain, England, Sweden, Ireland, Finland and French Polynesia. The sizeable Aussie national team saw the host nation top the medal table with exciting prospects such as Colby Thicknesse who earned gold in the men’s featherweight tournament. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s world champion, Michelle Montague, continued her undefeated dominance with victory in the lightweight tournament final and against her toughest opponent to date, Jenni Kivioja, Finland’s perennial medal contender who stepped up from featherweight to take on the 155lb world champion. World champions Murtaza Talha Ali (light-heavyweight) and Ramazan Gitinov (welterweight) cruised to gold medal triumphs in addition to the Swedish duo of Bezhan Mahmudi (atomweight) and Bianca Antman (women’s flyweight) who also claimed titles while Poland’s promising young up-and-comer, Magdalena Czaban, claimed the atomweight silver medal. 

The championship’s heavyweight title was snatched up by Ireland’s Ryan Spillane, the 2018 IMMAF world champion, who went on to announce his signing with Bellator MMA. Furthermore, the Oceania Open provided final feathers in the caps of Sweden’s Bianca Antman, Bahrain’s Murtaza Ali, and England’s world renown prodigy Muhammad Mokaev, with the trio progressing to make their professional MMA debuts with stunning performances under the banner of Brave. 

Through some of the world’s leading professional MMA organisations, reducing the scale of operations and implementing cutting-edge health processes with innovations such as the UFC’s “Fight Island”, the sport bounced back to resume providing athletes with the opportunity to compete and continued to serve fans with a wealth of the most in-demand contests, from the UFC’s Petr Yan, a product of the Russian MMA Union’s regional amateur circuit, who reached the pinnacle of pro MMA in July as he stormed his way to the UFC bantamweight world title, to Muhammad Mokaev, the world’s most talked about young prospect who accelerated his way to 4-0 in as many months from August to November. 

More of the year’s top professional standouts from IMMAF roots, plus veterans of the WMMAA platform (pre merge), include former Russian national amateur medallist turned Bellator world champion, Vadim Nemkov, former IMMAF world champion turned UFC star, Amanda Ribas, and Manon Fiorot, France’s former IMMAF championships gold medallist who claimed pro titles under EFC and UAE Warriors in 2020 to emerge as one of the sport’s most dominant new faces.

Scroll down to recap some more alumni who featured under some of the world’s most prominent MMA organisations in 2020, who advanced as experienced veterans of the premier amateur platform:

UFC
BRAZIL – Amanda Ribas
ITALY – Alessio Di Chirico
RUSSIA – Said Nurmagomedov
RUSSIA – Alexey Kunchenko
RUSSIA – Magomed Ankalaev
RUSSIA – Roman Bogatov
RUSSIA – Petr Yan
KAZAKHSTAN – Shavkat Rakhmonov
KAZAKHSTAN – Mariya Agapova
USA – Brendan Allen
WALES – Jack Shore

BRAVE
BELGIUM – Issa Isakov
USA – Jose Torres
SWEDEN – Bianca Antman
SWEDEN – Anton Turkalj
SWEDEN – Irman Smajic
SWEDEN – Jonny Touma
SWEDEN – Elin Oberg
SWEDEN – Tobias Harila
SWEDEN – Andreas Berg Gustafsson
RUSSIA – Murtaza Talha Ali
RUSSIA – Abdulmanap Magomedov
RUSSIA – Magomed Idrisov
WALES – Aiden James
IRELAND – Cian Cowley
ENGLAND – PK Zadeh
ENGLAND – Muhammad Mokaev
ENGLAND – Shoaib Yousaf
LUXEMBOURG – Yann Liasse
PAKISTAN – Abbas khan
ROMANIA – Ion Grigo
SOUTH AFRICA – Nkosi Ndebele

CAGE WARRIORS
ITALY – Dario Bellandi
ITALY – Michele Martignoni
ENGLAND – Christian Leroy Duncan
ENGLAND – Adam Amarasinghe
ENGLAND – Jake Bond
IRELAND – Jack Maguire
NORTHERN IRELAND – Ciaran Mulholland

BELLATOR
BULGARIA – Alexandra Toncheva
ITALY – Michele Martignoni
IRELAND – James Gallagher
IRELAND – Sinead Kavanagh
IRELAND – Danni Neilan
IRELAND – Frans Mlambo
IRELAND – Ciaran Clarke
IRELAND – Kiefer Crosbie
IRELAND – Ryan Spillane (signed)
IRELAND – Sam Slater
NORTHERN IRELAND – Leah McCourt
FRANCE – Lucie Bertaud
FRANCE – Asael Adjoudj
NEW ZEALAND – Jay-Jay Wilson
ENGLAND – Akonne Wanliss
RUSSIA – Valentin Moldavsky
RUSSIA – Vadim Nemkov
RUSSIA – Magomed Magomedov

UAE WARRIORS
FRANCE – Manon Fiorot
SWEDEN – Cornelia Holm

ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
RUSSIA – Murad Ramazanov
RUSSIA – Raimond Magomedaliev

EFC
RUSSIA – Gadzhi Rabadanov

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IMMAF board approves changes to statutes & welcomes four new member federations https://immaf.org/2020/12/18/immaf-board-approves-changes-to-statutes-welcomes-four-new-member-federations/ Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:52:29 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40808

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During a virtual meeting on Wednesday, the Board of Directors of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) approved changes to the IMMAF Statutes which will now be presented to IMMAF National Federations for approval at an Extraordinary General Assembly in February 2021.

The IMMAF Directors also approved new IMMAF Anti-doping Compliance documents as part of its efforts to gain official recognition from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The Compliance documents includes an Anti-doping Policy Framework which, as well as IMMAF anti-doping rules, includes an Anti-doping Education Plan, a Risk Assessment, and an Athletes Act.

In addition, the IMMAF Board approved the creation of a new Integrity Section of the IMMAF Website where all Integrity related documents and policies will be posted in Q1 2021.

The Board accepted, with either individual and observation status, new IMMAF Members from Israel, Mongolia, Cayman Islands and Saint Martin.

The IMMAF Board also approved the introduction of a mandatory grading system for youth athletes, as recognition of the importance to maintain rigorous safety and technical standards for competitors in younger age groups.

Finally, the IMMAF Board was informed of the continuation of the partnership agreement with the UFC into 2021.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “The announcement of the new partnership with UFC is much appreciated and an indication of their trust in and support of IMMAF. Despite the severe challenges posed by the Pandemic, which led to the cancellation of all but one of our planned events, I am proud to say that the IMMAF team has continued to work hard, and in a determined fashion, building structures and policies that will help us in our on-going quest to secure sport recognition.”

Densign White, IMMAF CEO said: “We had a very productive meeting, and the Board are fully supportive of our efforts to develop the sport and our organisation, as have been laid out in the new IMMAF Strategic Plan. With the 2021 Event Calendar now approved, we are excited to be able to return to play in the New Year, from a very solid governance platform.”

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IMMAF announces provisional Championships schedule for 2021 https://immaf.org/2020/12/17/immaf-announces-provisional-championships-schedule-for-2021/ Thu, 17 Dec 2020 09:54:40 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40802

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has announced its provisional Championships schedule for 2021, dependent on the global landscape with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and with some details yet to be finalised. 

The first event of the year is set to be the Asian Open Championships in Kazakhstan from the 27 June to 4 July with a total of 7 events planned for the second half of the year. IMMAF will additionally be returning to Bahrain in January 2022 for its rescheduled, inaugural World Teams Championships.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“We are determined to reinvigorate international amateur MMA competition in 2021 by returning with a full calendar and providing opportunities to IMMAF athletes across all continents. We understand that national federations and teams need time to prepare, and moreover the return of competition to look forward to, and so as the year draws to a close, we are pleased to share positive news of events to get excited about for 2021. The Events Team is working hard to finalise outstanding details.”

IMMAF 2021 WORKING CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE

Asia Open Senior & Junior Championships
Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan
June 27 – July 4, 2021

Pan America Open Championships (Seniors)
TBC, Mexico 
July 2021

Youth World Championships
TBC, Turkey
July / August 2021

European Open Senior & Junior Championships
St Petersburg, Russia
August 2021

Africa Open Senior & Junior Championships
Johannesburg, South Africa
September 1 – 4, 2021

Oceania Open Senior & Junior Championships
TBC, New Zealand 
September 2021

World Senior & Junior Championships
Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan
November 27 – December 5, 2021

World Team Championships
Manama, Bahrain
January 2022

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2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Award winners revealed https://immaf.org/2020/12/11/2020-immaf-amateur-mma-award-winners-revealed/ Fri, 11 Dec 2020 18:39:04 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40788

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Main image: Michelle Montague, winner of Best Performance and Best Female Athlete awards

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) announced the winners of its 2020 Amateur MMA Awards at a black-tie ceremony that took place online today, Friday 11 December. 

The purpose of the IMMAF Awards was to celebrate the achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

In his closing speech from Tajikistan, IMMAF President Kerrith Brown congratulated the nominees and winners; and thanked the National Federations and Presidents, members, volunteers, athletes, staff and the Board for rising above the challenges of “a remarkably difficult year.”

“Thank you for your solidarity this year and for coming together to celebrate your achievements with us at the 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards. We are ready to come back stronger in 2021 at every level, more transparent, better structured and excelling in all areas of sport development and governance, in every corner of the globe. We will continue to strive for sport recognition to build on our collective work of the last seven years.”

See below for the complete list of Award winners for each category.

WINNERS OF THE 2020 IMMAF AMATEUR MMA AWARDS

  • Best Female Athlete: Michele Montague (New Zealand)
  • Best Male Athlete: Bagdat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan)
  • Best Junior Athlete of the Year: Muhammad Mokaev (England)
  • Best Performance: Michele Montague (New Zealand)
  • Most Proactive National Federation: MMA India Federation
  • Host Federation of the Year: Bahrain MMA Federation
  • Social Impact Award: Estonian MMA Federation
  • Best on Social Media Award 2020: FAMMEJL (Mexico) & National League of Mixed Martial Arts Cameroon
  • Best IMMAF Educator Award: OCAMM (Colombia)
  • Best IMMAF Mobile Application User: MMA Cymru (Wales)
  • Best National Federation for MMA CoachingMixed Martial Arts South Africa 
  • IMMAF Anti-doping Award: Mexico FAMMEJL (Mexico)
Best Male – Bagdat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan)
Best Junior – Muhammad Mokaev (England)

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IMMAF counts down to 2020 Amateur MMA Awards https://immaf.org/2020/12/10/immaf-counts-down-to-2020-amateur-mma-awards/ Thu, 10 Dec 2020 15:54:38 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40784

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FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER, ONLINE [15:00HRS UTC]
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is counting down to its third annual Amateur MMA Awards, which takes place online tomorrow, Friday 11 December, at 15:00 hrs (GMT). 

The prestigious black-tie event will celebrate the achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

Voting for members closed on 4 December, with winners to be revealed during the ceremony for the following awards: Best Female Athlete, Best Male Athlete, Best Junior Athlete and Best Performance.

See the complete list of nominees and highlight reels, and full awards list below.

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE

Watch: Best Female Athlete Nominees | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

  • Michelle Montague (New Zealand)
  • Bezhan Mahmudi (Sweden)
  • Bianca Antman (Sweden)
  • Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa (Bahrain)
  • Guangmei Han (China)
  • Anastasiya Svetkivska (Ukraine)

BEST MALE ATHLETE 

Watch: Best Male Athlete Nominees | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

  • Murtaza Talha Ali (Bahrain)
  • Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain)
  • Bagdat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan)
  • Ata Atdayev (Ukraine)
  • Gadzhimurad Bagautdinov (Russia)

BEST JUNIOR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR 

Watch: Best Junior Athlete | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

  • Muhammad Mokaev (England)
  • Gani Adilserikov (Kazakhstan) 
  • Anna Gaul (Germany)
  • Murad Guseinov (Bahrain

BEST PERFORMANCE (OF THE 2019 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS/ 2020 OCEANIA OPEN)

Watch: Best Performance Nominees | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

  • Yernaz Mussabek (Kazakhstan)
  • Stephanie Paige Evans (Wales) 
  • Sora Rakhmonova (Kazakhstan)
  • Michelle Montague (New Zealand)
  • Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain)

OTHER AWARDS

In addition to the awards determined by member votes, other awards given on the night decided by panel decision or data, are:

  • Most Proactive National Federation
  • Host Federation of the Year
  • Social Impact Award
  • Best on Social Media Award 2020
  • Best IMMAF Educator Award (Most Active National Federation in implementing the IMMAF grading scheme in 2020)
  • IMMAF App Award (for Best National Federation in use of the IMMAF App in 2020)
  • Best National Federation for MMA Coaching (Most active National Federation in implementing IMMAF Coach Certification Program)
  • IMMAF Anti-doping Award (for achievement of the highest number of WADA ADeL certifications)

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IMMAF Around the World: Spotlight on Tajikistan in 2020 https://immaf.org/2020/12/08/immaf-around-the-world-spotlight-on-tajikistan-in-2020/ Tue, 08 Dec 2020 09:43:51 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40780

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The Tajikistan Mixed Martial Arts Federation recently published to IMMAF a report detailing the organisation’s significant activities during the period of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. 

Notwithstanding the current climate, the TAJMMAF maintains close cooperation with the IMMAF in the implementation of its duties as a National Federation and the promotion of Amateur MMA in Tajikistan.

Competitions and Training

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Tajikistan federation found it needed to adapt its training sessions and competitions in order to be able to execute them. In accordance with the recommendations and restrictions set by both local government and IMMAF, the TAJMMAF held its Amateur MMA Championships without spectators under the title of “Dushanbe Cup-2020” on 28-29 March 2020.

In addition, for the further development of MMA in Tajikistan and selection of the best sportsmen for the international competitions, the TAJMMAF is organizing a National Republican Amateur MMA Championship this month (December 2020.)  

The federation commented:

“We are seeing how impatiently talented competitors are counting down the days for the Championship to show their best skills, their enthusiasm and desire to become champions.” 

Organising, Participating and Campaigning Online

At the beginning of pandemic, the TAJMMAF adapted by reducing its physical operations and moving online a range of activities that has included internal meetings, training and international meetings and events. 

“Especially, we have strived to actively participate in all IMMAF online events and continue to contribute to the protection and development the sport of MMA in Tajikistan and world over. As part of this, for almost a year, we have been participating in monthly IMMAF E-meetings with Central Asian Federations.”  

The TAJMMAF has been notably active in IMMAF campaigns that have included the “White Card” /“MMA for Peace” campaign in April, in the support of the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace. In July 2020, the TAJMMAF collected 2118 signatures for the global petition, “MMA is a Sport”, promoting it via social its networks, over Facebook, Instagram, Viber and WhatsApp.

Education & E-Learning

From 12 to 16 October, the federation gathered to participate as a group in IMMAF’s Virtual Technical Seminar Week which it describes as bring “very fruitful intellectually and very interesting in the COVID-19 period.”

October to November also proved a productive time for TAJMMAF’s administrators, representatives and members (including President, Vice-president, coaches, external and internal affairs coordinators, lawyers, financial administrators and Social Media officers), when they completed the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping E-Learning Course (ADeL) and received WADA certification.

On 21 November, TAJMMAF staff further participated in a seminar organised by the National Olympic Committee of Tajikistan on Doping Control. 

Developments & IT

Regardless of the obstacles presented by COVID-19, the TAJMMAF reports  various “challenges and errors emerging in the organisation of our first competition, the Dushanbe Cup-2020”. The governing body is currently working to trouble-shoot in these areas to improve the standard of its organisational, management and operational processes:

“Indeed, we have now transferred from traditional “management” processes to increased e-management. To avoid paperwork, time constraints and labour overruns we have developed a software system that allows participants to register for our tournaments online, easing the administrative load for coordinators before, during and after tournaments. The online system has been launched in time for the upcoming Republican Championship.”

Communications

In 2020, TAJMMAF’s website was enhanced for multi-lingual access – in Tajik, Russian and English. IMMAF technical videos were also translated from English into the Tajik language

For the active promotion of TAJMMAF and its activities, a Social Media Manager has been hired. He is responsible for the positive propagation and popularisation of amateur MMA in Tajikistan on behalf of the federation. 

Governance and Recognition 

Also in 2020; TAJMMAF drafted the Amateur MMA Rules of Tajikistan based on IMMAF Amateur MMA Rules, and they were formerly adopted by the Committee of Sports and Youth of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Finally this year, the TAJMMAF instigated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between itself and the Olympic Committee of the Republic of Tajikistan for mutual support in Anti-Doping matters.

Summary

Of a prolific years’ work in the face great challenges, the federation has commented:

“What we have achieved during such a difficult situation as caused by COVID-19, is not our greatest contribution yet, but as they say: ‘Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.’”

See Presentation about TAJMMAF structure and activities

Look out for TAJMMAF President, Davron Juraev Muzafarovich, joining other National Presidents on IMMAF TALKS soon to discuss the development of amateur MMA globally in 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic 

Follow the TAJMMAF on:

Facebook
Instagram
YouTube

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IMMAF Around the World: Spotlight on Bulgaria https://immaf.org/2020/12/08/immaf-around-the-world-spotlight-on-bulgaria/ Tue, 08 Dec 2020 09:35:23 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40749

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Main image: Bulgaria’s Delyan Georgiev celebrates winning IMMAF gold at the 2018 World Championships

The Bulgarian MMA Federation (BULMMAF) has been licensed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Bulgaria since 29.12.2014 and has been an IMMAF member since 2015.  Its president is UFC veteran, Stanislav Nedkov.

BULMMAF currently has 27 member clubs with over 800 athletes across all age categories 

(-14, -16, -18, 18+ years) and its national teams have won a total of 322 medals to-date at World, European and Balkan championships

Since its formation, the BULMMAF has organised competitions for amateur and professional athletes. The federation broke ground as one of the first in the world to create competition rules for children of 12 years and upwards giving them access to compete in one of the most popular sports in the world. Its amateur tournaments provide for four age groups (12 -13-year olds, 14-15-year olds, 16 -17-year olds and 18+), with its current rule sets compliant with IMMAF’s. In line with this, national level competitors wear the official blue and red equipment (rashguard, shorts, gloves, shinpads) as worn in IMMAF’s international championships.

A main goal of the federation is to develop and to improve the conditions and processes around training and competition in the country. So far progress has been achieved through the creation and implementation of safety rules, as well as coaches’, referees’ and judges’ education.

Since 2015, “MMA” has been included in the educational programme of the National Sports Academy (Vasil Levski). The 4-year MMA coaching course results in a university degree in education for its participants.

On 26 November of this year, BULMMAF held the final tournament of its 2020 national championships, for all four age categories, in the town of Dryanovo. The event was held without an audience due to COVID-19 restrictions. During the official opening ceremony, President Nedkov awarded IMMAF certificates to the first BULMMAF coaches to pass the IMMAF licensing course – Svetoslav Zhelev, Denyo Pavlov, Maria Koleva, Kaloyan Kolev, Nikolay Kolev and Georgi Nedkov.

IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, commended the Bulgarian Federation for demonstrating “remarkable consistency in the growth of the sport of MMA.”

He elaborated: “This has been made possible by the attention they have given to coach education and continuous professional development. I am impressed with the whole sports eco-system in Bulgaria, which includes bi-annual coach revalidation events and upskilling sessions during the National Championships. Now, with the federation adopting the international system of coaches’ certification, their national coach education system is fully aligned with IMMAF’s.”

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Khabib will fight for the inclusion of MMA in the Olympic program https://immaf.org/2020/12/03/khabib-will-fight-for-the-inclusion-of-mma-in-the-olympic-program/ Thu, 03 Dec 2020 10:48:12 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40745

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Translated from article at MSN.ru on 2 December 2020: Хабиб будет биться за включение ММА в программу Олимпиады. Сделать это сложнее, чем стать чемпионом UFC (msn.com)

Article by Ilya Andreev (RUS)

The problem is that wrestling, boxing, judo, taekwondo see mixed martial arts as a dangerous competitor. Khabib wants to see MMA included in Olympic program.

Khabib Nurmagomedov gave a press conference in Tashkent on Tuesday, where he was asked about the possibility of including MMA in the Olympic program. It turned out that Nurmagomedov not only supports this idea, but will lobby it at a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach, which, according to him, will take place in the near future.

“The inclusion of MMA in the Olympics is one of my main tasks for the next couple of years, we are already working in this direction,” Khabib said. “In the near future I will have many meetings, including with the president of the Olympic Committee. I think if not in Paris, then in Los Angeles we have a great chance to promote MMA. We need to unite all the federations that exist in the world. In my opinion, 60 or 70 federations must be united in order to promote the sport to the Olympics.

“The only issue is the perceived cruelty of the sport,” the champion said. “They don’t welcome it at the Olympics, they don’t want a lot of blood. But in terms of recognition, sponsorship, in terms of interest for television, MMA, I think, if it enters the program of the Olympics, will be on a par with football and athletics in interest. We are already working in this direction. In the near future I will have many meetings, including with the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach. A lot of work will be done to ensure that MMA is included in the Olympic program. It is unlikely that we will succeed in 2024, we want MMA to be at the Olympics in 2028.”

Khabib himself, who has finished his career as a fighter, does not intend to become an Olympic champion. He said this at a press conference in Moscow in August. “I’ll be a grandfather by then,” he said.

The main organization for amateur MMA is the International Federation of Mixed Martial Arts (IMMAF), founded in 2012 in Sweden. Two years ago, it merged with the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMA), which was led by the president of M-1 Global, former manager Fedor Emelianenko Vadim Finkelstein. Finkelstein is now the honorary president of IMMAF. The federation is headed by Briton Kerrit Brown. It comprises 63 national associations [ Correction: 120 national associations – IMMAF ed.]. IMMAF has the classic structure of an international federation, it annually holds world championships (this year cancelled because of the pandemic). However, mixed martial arts have not yet been recognized at the international level.

A prerequisite for the inclusion of the sport in the Olympic Games program is membership in the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), formerly called SportAccord. The first step towards full recognition is getting GAISF’s so-called observer status. GAISF has denied IMMAF this status for several years. The last rejection came in February 2019. The official reasons are:

  • Influence of commercial structures (UFC supports IMMAF);
  • Competing with federations claiming to run the sport;
  • Concern about the health and safety of athletes.

Competing organizations include the Global Mixed Martial Arts Association (GAMMA), founded in Amsterdam at the end of 2018. It is supported by a large Singaporean MMA promotion, One Championship. In November 2019, GAMMA hosted its World Championships in Singapore. It was less representative than that of IMMAF. In April 2020, it was reported that GAMMA had 25 federations. The organization is invisible – it is inactive in social networks (there is only a Facebook page) and GAMMA does not have its own site.

But, according to IMMAF, the main reason for the refusal is not in the UFC, GAMMA and the supposed cruelty of MMA, but in the fact that other contact sports (wrestling, boxing, judo, taekwondo) do not want to see mixed martial arts in the Olympic program. You can read about how officials from the wrestling and boxing federations have a negative attitude towards MMA in last year’s article by a colleague of Mikhail Potapov.

“It’s politics,” Densign White, IMMAF’s chief executive, told SportsPro in May 2019. “It’s not really about us. It’s not about whether we manage well or not, what kind of medical care we have, what programs we have for the development of young people or what coaches and what competitions we have. None of this matters. It’s just about politics. This is what we understand.

“The martial arts representatives are influential in GAISF, they hold key positions there,” he continued. “Their actions are a clear attempt to prevent MMA from making any progress (on the way to becoming an Olympic sport) because they see us as a competitor, as a threat to their sports. When they come here, they act as one. If we [our membership application was to be put to vote at the GAISF assembly]…  we’d have a mountain to climb because all 15 martial arts would vote against us. Before the vote, we would start with a “minus 15” count.

White said the lack of observer status under GAISF prevents IMMAF from becoming a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

“They also influence WADA’s decision in terms of our application to become signatory to the WADA Code,” he said. “GAISF keeps telling us that WADA is independent, that they make their own decisions, but I have made it clear to them that we know that this is not the case. WADA are doing what you tell them! At WADA, we were told that if GAISF allowed us to obtain observer status, we would automatically become signatories of the code. Obviously, GAISF doesn’t want this to happen. They know that becoming a member of WADA is not a trifle, but an important thing, it is what leads to full membership in their organization, as well as blocking other MMA federations.”

It is amateur MMA and not professional, that IMMAF is fighting to get into the Olympic program. “Every year we invite these guys from GAISF to come because we want them to see what we’re doing,” White said. “We’re not secret, we’re completely open and transparent, but they never come, they’re always too busy.”

IMMAF is not discouraged and continues to fight for MMA to become part of the Olympic program. This year the petition, “MMA Is A Sport” was launched, which, however, never went global (only 15,000 people signed the petition on the website at change.org). Plus IMMAF is now registered as a non-profit organization in Switzerland, where the IOC apartment is located – the federation believes that this is important. Plus, now the federation has a new ally – Khabib. But based on everything that has happened in previous years, it will be very difficult to turn the situation around even for him. So far, the balance of power is such that go, tug-of-war, sport fishing and bridge are more likely to become Olympic sports than MMA – they, unlike mixed martial arts, are recognized by GAISF.

In May 2021, the GAISF summit is scheduled to take place in Yekaterinburg, with an update expected on the status of IMMAF.

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Top Japan prospect Reo Yamaguchi talks training with UK’s team Kaobon https://immaf.org/2020/12/01/top-japan-prospect-reo-yamaguchi-talks-training-with-uks-team-kaobon/ Tue, 01 Dec 2020 12:31:59 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40732

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One of Japan’s best young MMA prospects, 20-year-old Reo Yamaguchi spent the month of November in the United Kingdom training with the world-famous Team Kaobon in Liverpool. Team Kaobon is well established as one of the UK’s most accomplished producers of British MMA talent and is currently home to UFC contenders such as Darren Till, Mike Grundy and Tom Aspinall.

Yamaguchi is a Kyokushin Karate black-belt having entered the sport at age 5 and went on to be crowned Japan’s junior national champion. At age 16 he transitioned to MMA and after developing an impressive domestic record was selected by the Japanese MMA Federation at the age of 18 to represent his country’s national team on the international IMMAF platform. Fighting out of the Alive Academy in Nagoya-Shi under renowned coach Yoichi Suzuki, Yamaguchi made his debut on the world stage by winning the men’s bantamweight tournament at the 2018 IMMAF Oceania Open. As one of the most recognised young talents of the junior ranks, Yamaguchi remained consistent as a perennial top contender and has since won a trio of silver medals in the IMMAF junior bantamweight division, stepping onto the podium at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships, plus the 2019 European Open. 

The IMMAF World Championships regularly welcomes over 50 national teams featuring the top amateur MMA prospects from each country. The extreme diversity between different nations and styles makes the competition one of MMA’s most challenging feats with up to five opponents in the space of a week, and so, following the 2019 World Championships Yamaguchi set a new goal of taking on experience and furthering his own skill set through overseas training. 

Yamaguchi’s performances at the 2019 IMMAF Worlds caught the eye of Liverpool’s Team Kaobon, who reached out to the Japanese talent with an offer to join their ranks. “I got a message from the assistant of the Team Kaobon head coach, Colin Heron. I wanted to train at one of Europe’s top gyms to measure my level and I was also interested in living abroad and using English,” Yamaguchi explained. “Wrestling and mauy thai techniques all feel new to me and there is much to learn from their thinking and approach to training. I’m training with great fighters like Mike Grundy, teaching me wrestling.” 

While Yamaguchi was able to absorb world class training and insight to add to his game, it was the Western approach to training, compared to that of Japan, through which he learned the most about himself as an athlete.

“In Japan, one practice is 3-4 hours of training,” he explained, “However, the training at Team Kaobon was a high-intensity training in a short time of 90 minutes to 2 hours. It was a shorter session in Liverpool, so I was able to do my best from warm-up to the end. However, in Japan, because of the long training, I was unknowingly lacking in concentration. It depends on the gym, but many Japanese people have a culture that values ​​quantity. The idea is that it’s better to do it than not to do it. Even for long training I intend to go to the end with full power, but I unknowingly make an allocation that can withstand four hours of training, so it’s like running at about 60%. But in MMA, you have to do your best in a short round. So I felt how to train should be improved [after visiting Kaobon].”

While training and learning with some of UK MMA’s very best, Yamaguchi was alongside one England’s youngest up-and-coming names, Jack Grundy, son of UFC competitor and Kaobon wrestling coach, Mike Grundy. The 15-year-old was among the 250+ trailblazing athletes to compete at the first ever Youth MMA World Championships, hosted by IMMAF in August of 2019. With a series of impressive performances in the 12-man division and taking on rivals from as far as Russia and the USA, Grundy earned a bronze medal for England in the Youth B: -62kg/136lbs category.

“It was good to have him here, Grundy commented, who noted Yamaguchi’s work ethic and unorthodox striking. “Training with us he is a very skilled fighter and it was great to see him progress at Team Kaobon and start to use the techniques he learned under coach Colin Heron.”

Once international competition resumes in 2021, Yamaguchi is anticipated to make his return to action for Japan alongside amateur MMA’s elite global talent, when he will once again pursue the coveted gold medal at the IMMAF World Championships in Kazakhstan.

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Voting opens for the 2020 Amateur MMA Awards https://immaf.org/2020/12/01/voting-opens-for-the-2020-amateur-mma-awards/ Tue, 01 Dec 2020 12:21:12 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40730

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FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER, ONLINE [15:00HRS UTC]
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE

Voting commences today for the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s third annual Amateur MMA Awards.

Held online this year in the wake of the global pandemic, the prestigious black-tie event will take place on Friday 11 December to celebrate achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

The winner of the category will be decided by member vote, with one vote per National Federation: Private links to vote on polys.me have been emailed out to federation presidents today (1 December), with voting closing on 4 December.

See the complete list of nominees below:

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE

Watch: Best Female Athlete Nominees | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

·       Michelle Montague (New Zealand)

·       Bezhan Mahmudi (Sweden)

·       Bianca Antman (Sweden)

·       Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa (Bahrain)

·       Guangmei Han (China)

·       Anastasiya Svetkivska (Ukraine)

BEST MALE ATHLETE 

Watch: Best Male Athlete Nominees | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

·       Murtaza Talha Ali (Bahrain)

·       Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain)

·       Bagdat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan)

·       Ata Atdayev (Ukraine)

·       Gadzhimurad Bagautdinov (Russia)

BEST JUNIOR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR 

Watch: Best Junior Athlete | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

·       Muhammad Mokaev (England)

·       Gani Adilserikov (Kazakhstan) 

·       Anna Gaul (Germany)

·       Murad Guseinov (Bahrain

BEST PERFORMANCE (OF THE 2019 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS/ 2020 OCEANIA OPEN)

Watch: Best Performance Nominees | 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards – YouTube

·       Yernaz Mussabek (Kazakhstan)

·       Stephanie Paige Evans (Wales) 

·       Sora Rakhmonova (Kazakhstan)

·       Michelle Montague (New Zealand)

·       Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain)

OTHER AWARDS

In addition to the awards determined by member votes, other awards given on the night decided by panel decision or data, are:

  • Most Proactive National Federation
  • Host Federation of the Year
  • Social Impact Award
  • Best on Social Media Award 2020
  • Best IMMAF Educator Award (Most Active National Federation in implementing the IMMAF grading scheme in 2020)
  • IMMAF App Award (for Best National Federation in use of the IMMAF App in 2020)
  • Best National Federation for MMA Coaching (Most active National Federation in implementing IMMAF Coach Certification Program)
  • IMMAF Anti-doping Award (for achievement of the highest number of WADA ADeL certifications)

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Best performance nominees announced for 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards https://immaf.org/2020/11/30/best-performance-nominees-announced-for-2020-immaf-amateur-mma-awards/ Mon, 30 Nov 2020 11:01:34 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40698

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FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER, ONLINE [15:00HRS UTC]
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced its nominees shortlist for the Best Performance Award 2020 ahead of its third annual Amateur MMA Awards. 

Performances included in the Award are those from the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Oceania Open Championships. 

The winner of the category will be decided by member vote, with one vote per National Federation: Links to vote will be emailed to federation presidents on 1 December, with voting closing on 4 December.

The nominees for Best Performance 2020 are as follows:

Yernaz Mussabek (Kazakhstan): 
Submission (Gogoplata) victory over Mansur Magomedov (Bahrain) 
2019 World Championships quarter-final

Yernaz Mussabek (Kazakhstan)

Stephanie Paige Evans (Wales): 
Submission (Von Flue Choke) victory over Janina Danes (Sweden)
2019 World Championships, round of 16

Stephanie Paige Evans (Wales)

Sora Rakhmonova (Kazakhstan):
TKO (body kick) victory over Megan Morris (England)
2019 World Championships, round of 16

Sora Rakhmonova (Kazakhstan)

Michelle Montague (New Zealand): 
Submission (Arm-Bar) victory over Jenni Kivioja (Finland) 
2020 Oceania Open final.

Michelle Montague (New Zealand)

Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain): 
Submission (Anaconda Choke variation) victory over Rusi Minev (Bulgaria)
2019 World Championships round of 16

Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain)

ABOUT THE 2020 IMMAF AMATEUR MMA AWARDS

The prestigious occasion will take place on Friday 11 December at 15:00 hrs (UTC) to celebrate achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

Awards fall into three categories; those open for Member Vote, data based awards and those decided by an IMMAF panel. See below for the full list of award categories, with nominees for Member Vote Awards to be announced shortly.

The dress code for the virtual Awards is black-tie, with invitations due to be issued to National Federations.

AWARD CATEGORIES

Member Vote Awards (Athletes)

  • Best Female Athlete
  • Best Male Athlete
  • Best Junior Athlete
  • Best performance (of the 2019 World Championships/ 2020 Oceania Open)

National Federations Awards (IMMAF panel decision)

  • Most Proactive National Federation
  • Host Federation of the Year
  • Social Impact Award
  • Best on Social Media Award 2020

National Federations Awards (data based)

  • Best IMMAF Educator Award (Most Active National Federation in implementing the IMMAF grading scheme in 2020)
  • IMMAF App Award ( for Best National Federation in use of the IMMAF App in 2020)
  • Best National Federation for MMA Coaching (Most active National Federation in implementing IMMAF Coach Certification Program)
  • IMMAF Anti-doping Award ( for achievement of the highest number of WADA ADeL certifications)

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Best male athlete nominees announced for 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards https://immaf.org/2020/11/27/best-male-athlete-nominees-announced-for-2020-immaf-amateur-mma-awards/ Fri, 27 Nov 2020 15:48:12 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40680

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FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER, ONLINE [15:00HRS UTC]
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced its nominees shortlist for the Best Senior Male Athlete Award 2020 ahead of its third annual Amateur MMA Awards.

The winner of the category will be decided by member vote, with one vote per National Federation: Links to vote will be emailed to federation presidents on 1 December, with voting closing on 4 December.

The nominees for Best Senior Male Athlete 2020 are as follows:

Murtaza Talha Ali (Bahrain)

Undefeated juggernaut Murtaza Talha returned from injury to reclaim the world light-heavyweight title, taking the gold for a second time. After missing the 2018 World Championships, a symbolic triumph saw Murtaza edge a split-decision win over Russia’s Magomed Shakhrudinov, who occupied the 205lb division through during his absence. The 2019 world champion capped off his amateur tenure with an opening round TKO to pick up the 2020 Oceania Open title before announcing that he will turn pro.    

Murtaza Talha Ali (Bahrain)

Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain)

The world’s pound-for-pound no.1 ranked amateur was in astonishing form this past year, capturing the 2019 welterweight world title with back-to-back anaconda choke submissions and a semi-final TKO stoppage before claiming the title and following up 2020 with gold medal success at the Oceania Open. As of 2020 Gitinov has now won titles at the Asia Open, Oceania Open and European Open in addition to claiming the World Championships crown and reaching the IMMAF rankings summit.

Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain)

Bagdat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan)

Kazakhstan’s exciting Bagdat Zubanysh extended his flawless undefeated tenure. The 2018 World and Asia Open strawweight champion picked up his second world title in 2019 as the standout prospect of the prominent Kazakh national team.

Bagdat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan)

Ata Atdayev (Ukraine)

Running parallel to his Ukraine team-mate Anastasiya Svetkivska, Atdayev entered the 2019 World Championships as the reigning European Open champion. Prior to besting the USA’s Israel Galvan at the World Championships finals, the Ukrainian bested former world champion Ruslan Satiev, handing a first loss to the Russian prospect. 

Ata Atdayev (Ukraine)

Gadzhimurad Bagautdinov (Russia)

The Russian heavyweight and European Open finalist enjoyed his breakthrough moment at the 2019 IMMAF Worlds. Bahrain’s European Open champion Shamil Gaziev entered last year’s World Championships as the standout favourite for the gold medal: Yet, Bagautdinov had other plans and tore up the script to submit the undefeated Gaziev in the opening round of their semi-final before advancing to the finals where he claimed the gold.

Gadzhimurad Bagautdinov (Russia)

ABOUT THE 2020 IMMAF AMATEUR MMA AWARDS

The prestigious occasion will take place on Friday 11 December at 15:00 hrs (UTC) to celebrate achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

Awards fall into three categories; those open for Member Vote, data based awards and those decided by an IMMAF panel. See below for the full list of award categories, with nominees for Member Vote Awards to be announced shortly.

The dress code for the virtual Awards is black-tie, with invitations due to be issued to National Federations.

AWARD CATEGORIES

Member Vote Awards (Athletes)

  • Best Female Athlete
  • Best Male Athlete
  • Best Junior Athlete
  • Best performance (of the 2019 World Championships/ 2020 Oceania Open)

National Federations Awards (IMMAF panel decision)

  • Most Proactive National Federation
  • Host Federation of the Year
  • Social Impact Award
  • Best on Social Media Award 2020

National Federations Awards (data based)

  • Best IMMAF Educator Award (Most Active National Federation in implementing the IMMAF grading scheme in 2020)
  • IMMAF App Award ( for Best National Federation in use of the IMMAF App in 2020)
  • Best National Federation for MMA Coaching (Most active National Federation in implementing IMMAF Coach Certification Program)
  • IMMAF Anti-doping Award ( for achievement of the highest number of WADA ADeL certifications)

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Best female athlete nominees announced for 2020 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards https://immaf.org/2020/11/26/best-female-athlete-nominees-announced-for-2020-immaf-amateur-mma-awards/ Thu, 26 Nov 2020 11:19:48 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40659

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FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER, ONLINE [15:00HRS UTC]
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced its nominees shortlist for the Best Senior Female Athlete Award 2020 ahead of its third annual Amateur MMA Awards.

The winner of the category will be decided by member vote, with one vote per National Federation: Links to vote will be emailed to federation presidents on 1 December, with voting closing on 4 December.

The nominees for Best Senior Female Athlete 2020 are as follows:

Michelle Montague (New Zealand)

The exceptional and overpowering Michelle Montague lived up to expectation with unrivalled dominance at the 2019 World Championships, winning the lightweight gold medal with three successive stoppages including two first-round submissions. Montague has been one of the most talked about new talents of the past year and in early 2020 the world champion won the Oceania Open title for a second time with another pair of submission stoppages.   

Michelle Montague (New Zealand)

Bezhan Mahmudi (Sweden)

It was a tremendous year for the women of Sweden’s national team who carried the nation back to securing world championships gold. Mahmudi led the charge to secure the 2019 atomweight world title followed by the 2020 Oceania Open title, bagging decisive wins along way against the likes of Polish up and comer Magdalena Czaban and perennial, top contender Ayan Tursyn of Kazakhstan.

Bezhan Mahmudi (Sweden)

Bianca Antman (Sweden)

Prior to her pro debut and viral head kick KO back in the summer, Bianca Antman formed the other half of Sweden’s 2019 resurgence as she advanced to the flyweight world championships final to submit former silver medallist Hannah Dawson in the second round. Alongside team-mate Bezhan Mahmudi, Antman also made her way to the Oceania Open in 2020, where she bagged the title with a pair of submission wins.    

Bianca Antman (Sweden)

Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa (Bahrain)

A newcomer to the Bahraini national team in 2019, De Sousa produced one of the most dominant campaigns ever seen on the IMMAF World Championships platform. She captured the featherweight gold medal with four submission victories, beginning with a kneebar stoppage on the opening day of competition, and going onto execute a further three arm-bar holds to take the crown.  

Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa (Bahrain)

Guangmei Han (China)

Reigning Asia Open champion Guangmei Han secured a historic first IMMAF world title for China with a trio of unanimous decision wins to conquer the bantamweight division. 

Guangmei Han (China)

Anastasiya Svetkivska (Ukraine)

Ukraine’s European Open champion extended a 7-fight win streak in 2019, capturing the strawweight world title with a series of four wins in championship week. She handed a first amateur loss to Malaysia’s Colleen Augustin, with an opening round arm-bar, before advancing to the final to submit top Aussie standout Olivia Ukmar, again via arm-bar, and win gold.

Anastasiya Svetkivska (Ukraine)

ABOUT THE 2020 IMMAF AMATEUR MMA AWARDS

The prestigious occasion will take place on Friday 11 December at 15:00 hrs (UTC) to celebrate achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

Awards fall into three categories; those open for Member Vote, data based awards and those decided by an IMMAF panel. See below for the full list of award categories, with nominees for Member Vote Awards to be announced shortly.

The dress code for the virtual Awards is black-tie, with invitations due to be issued to National Federations.

Award Categories

Member Vote Awards (Athletes)

  • Best Female Athlete
  • Best Male Athlete
  • Best Junior Athlete
  • Best performance (of the 2019 World Championships/ 2020 Oceania Open)

National Federations Awards (IMMAF panel decision)

  • Most Proactive National Federation
  • Host Federation of the Year
  • Social Impact Award
  • Best on Social Media Award 2020

National Federations Awards (data based)

  • Best IMMAF Educator Award (Most Active National Federation in implementing the IMMAF grading scheme in 2020)
  • IMMAF App Award ( for Best National Federation in use of the IMMAF App in 2020)
  • Best National Federation for MMA Coaching (Most active National Federation in implementing IMMAF Coach Certification Program)
  • IMMAF Anti-doping Award ( for achievement of the highest number of WADA ADeL certifications)

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Best Junior nominees announced for 2020 IMMAF amateur MMA Awards https://immaf.org/2020/11/24/best-junior-nominees-announced-for-2020-immaf-amateur-mma-awards/ Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:39:45 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40640

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FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER, ONLINE
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced its nominees shortlist for the Best Junior Athlete Award 2020 ahead of its third annual Amateur MMA Awards.

The winner of the category will be decided by member vote, with one vote per National Federation: Links to vote will be emailed to federation presidents on 1 December, with voting closing on 4 December.

The nominees for Best Junior Athlete 2020 are as follows:

Muhammad Mokaev (England)

England’s young prodigy Muhammad Mokaev completed his 23-0 amateur tenure by winning the 2019 IMMAF junior bantamweight world championships, taking gold for a second time on-the-back of four triumphs that included a thrilling third collision with top rival Reo Yamaguchi. The number-one ranked junior also picked up the 2020 Oceania Open title ahead of a highly publicised professional debut later in the year.

Muhammad Mokaev (England)

Rustam Ashurbekov (Russia)

The formidable Russian national team were the dominant force of the 2019 Junior World Championships. Among their five gold medals, if was national junior heavyweight champion Ashurbekov who stood-out with a pair of first round TKO victories to claim his first world title on the IMMAF stage in unrivalled fashion. 

Rustam Ashurbekov (Russia)

Gani Adilserikov (Kazakhstan)  

Bouncing back from defeat at the 2018 world championships, Kazakhstan’s Gani Adilserikov battled through a trio of rivals in the stacked junior flyweight ranks to claim world championship gold.   

Gani Adilserikov (Kazakhstan)

Anna Gaul (Germany)

Germany’s two-time European gold medallist secured her first junior world title and solidified her place as the highest ranked female junior competitor. Gaul fought her way to the world championships final and secured the gold with a third-round arm-bar submission. 

Anna Gaul (Germany)

Murad Guseinov (Bahrain)

It took nine challenging rounds for Team Bahrain’s Guseinov to capture the junior welterweight world title. His landmark achievement was underpinned by the daunting line-up of rivals from teams such as Russia and Kazakhstan, including triumph in the tournament final against Russian young adults’ gold medallist Kamil Shaikhamatov.  

Murad Guseinov (Bahrain)

ABOUT THE 2020 IMMAF AMATEUR MMA AWARDS

The prestigious occasion will take place on Friday 11 December to celebrate achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

Awards fall into three categories; those open for Member Vote, data based awards and those decided by an IMMAF panel. See below for the full list of award categories, with nominees for Member Vote Awards to be announced shortly. 

The dress code for the virtual Awards is black-tie, with invitations due to be issued to National Federations.

AWARD CATEGORIES

Member Vote Awards (Athletes)

  • Best Female Athlete 
  • Best Male Athlete 
  • Best Junior Athlete 
  • Best performance (of the 2019 World Championships/ 2020 Oceania Open)

National Federations Awards (IMMAF panel decision) 

  • Most Proactive National Federation 
  • Host Federation of the Year 
  • Social Impact Award 
  • Best on Social Media Award 2020

National Federations Awards (data based) 

  • Best IMMAF Educator Award (Most Active National Federation in implementing the IMMAF grading scheme in 2020) 
  • IMMAF App Award ( for Best National Federation in use of the IMMAF App in 2020)
  • Best National Federation for MMA Coaching (Most active National Federation in implementing IMMAF Coach Certification Program)
  • IMMAF Anti-doping Award ( for achievement of the highest number of WADA ADeL certifications)

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IMMAF welcomes new member in Puerto Rico https://immaf.org/2020/11/23/immaf-welcomes-new-member-in-puerto-rico/ Mon, 23 Nov 2020 13:06:26 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40635

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is a step closer to establishing a complete footprint within the Pan-American region with Observational Membership granted to the Puerto Rico MMA Federation (Federacion Independiente De Artes Marciales Mixtas De Puerto Rico – FIAMMPR).  

Mr Orlando Sanchez, President of the registered non-profit Federation, is well-recognized within the Puerto Rican MMA community. The autonomous body has established strong membership of registered clubs with effective processes, policies, voting rights, education for coaches and officials, opportunities for volunteers, an amateur competition platform and more.

The FIAMMPR Board of Directors recognises the change in the landscape for the development of MMA and aims to progress further under the unified international organisation of IMMAF, benefitting from the support that it entails. The organisation’s new agenda will bring consistency to the regulation of MMA across Puerto Rico and aims to bring the work of FIAMMPR to the attention of the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee.

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown:

“IMMAF has continued to expand its family through 2020, which has provided time to double down on sport development and global governance matters. On behalf of the IMMAF board, I am delighted to welcome the FIAMMPR to IMMAF and to our active network of members in Latin America. We look forward to welcoming Puerto Rican athletes to IMMAF Championships in 2021.”

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2020 Virtual Amateur MMA Awards https://immaf.org/2020/11/16/2020-virtual-amateur-mma-awards/ Mon, 16 Nov 2020 11:42:31 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40631

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FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER, ONLINE
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) proudly announces its third annual Amateur MMA Awards, as the ceremony moves online this year in the wake of the global pandemic.

The prestigious occasion will take place on Friday 11 December to celebrate achievements across amateur mixed martial arts of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations during the period spanning November 2019 to October 2020.

Awards fall into three categories; those open for Member Vote, data based awards and those decided by an IMMAF panel. See below for the full list of award categories, with nominees for Member Vote Awards to be announced shortly. 

The dress code for the virtual Awards is black-tie, with invitations due to be issued to National Federations.

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown said:

“It’s been a tough year for MMA participants in most countries of the world during 2020. And so, we look forward to uniting with the IMMAF family in celebration of our achievements against all the odds this year, as a joyful remedy to the humdrum of global restrictions. This is the time for members to put on your best, black-tie party wear and spread out your favourite refreshments to join us in our end-of-year, virtual Awards celebration.”

AWARD CATEGORIES

Member Vote Awards (Athletes)

·  Best Female Athlete of the 2019 World Championships

·  Best Male Athlete of the 2019 World Championships

·  Best Junior Athlete of the Year of the 2019 World Championships

·  Best performance (of the 2019 World Championships/ 2020 Oceania Open )

National Federations Awards (IMMAF panel decision) 

·         Most Proactive National Federation 

·         Host Federation of the Year 

·         Social Impact Award 

·         Best on Social Media Award 2020

National Federations Awards (data based) 

·         Best IMMAF Educator Award (Most Active National Federation in implementing the IMMAF grading scheme in 2020) 

·         IMMAF App Award ( for Best National Federation in use of the IMMAF App in 2020)

·         Best National Federation for MMA Coaching (Most active National Federation in implementing IMMAF Coach Certification Program)

·         IMMAF Anti-doping Award ( for achievement of the highest number of WADA ADeL certifications)

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IMMAF members complete over 1000 anti-doping e-learning modules https://immaf.org/2020/11/09/immaf-members-complete-over-1000-anti-doping-e-learning-modules/ Mon, 09 Nov 2020 18:43:17 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40614

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IMMAF members have successfully completed over 1,000 Anti-doping modules on the WADA ADeL e-learning platform.

IMMAF Anti-Doping Commission Chairwoman and Consultant, Michele Verroken, commented:

“Engaging IMMAF members in education through the ADeL platform is a major part of our education plan. IMMAF is fully supportive of comprehensive education for all members, athletes, coaches, officials and parents. We are fortunate that WADA has welcomed IMMAF into the ADeL programme and delighted at the response from IMMAF members. ADeL programmes help IMMAF to reinforce anti-doping education and to promote clean MMA.”

IMMAF achieved registration with the platform in July this year, offering its membership enhanced courses and resources for MMA’s athletes, coaches, doctors, administrators and other participants interested in learning more about anti-doping and protecting the values of clean sport.

IMMAF has implemented a comprehensive drug-testing programme at its Championships since 2015, under the leadership of expert consultant Michele Verroken of Sporting Integrity, as well as ongoing anti-doping education, issuing 9 suspensions to date.

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Dominant IMMAF World Champion Murtaza set for pro debut at BRAVE 45 https://immaf.org/2020/11/09/dominant-immaf-world-champion-murtaza-set-for-pro-debut-at-brave-45/ Mon, 09 Nov 2020 18:18:16 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40608

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Light-heavyweight juggernaut Murtaza Talha Ali is cashing in his undefeated amateur streak and will complete his professional debut on the November 12 BRAVE CF 45 card in Bahrain.

The monstrous 24-year-old spent the entirety of his amateur MMA tenure competing on the IMMAF platform. The Dagestan born wrestling specialist was recruited by the Bahrain based KHK talent development program ahead of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships and represented the kingdom via the Bahrain MMA Federation national team.

Murtaza was unrivalled on the premier international amateur platform and was a leading figure as Bahrain ascended to become the world’s number-one ranked nation under IMMAF, his contribution included two world championships gold medals, the European Open title and the Oceania Open title.

Murtaza soon development a formidable reputation. Opponents were often forced to evade his big right hand and unrelenting forward momentum, often finding themselves backed against the fence with nowhere to left to go before being forced to hit the canvas as a result of the takedown where Murtaza’s strength was overwhelming.

Murtaza won his first amateur title at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships with 5 win within the week-long event against rivals from Wales, the Czech Republic, Poland and Australia before a well-focussed performance over Pavel Pahmoneko of Belarus saw Murtaza control his final opponent for the duration of the bout in order to claim the gold medal.

In 2018 Murtaza stormed to the IMMAF European Open title with a further 3 victories at the Bucharest tournament with, including wins against the likes of Irish Cage Warriors veteran Cathal Manning and the now standout Swedish professional Anton Turkalj (6-0) who is also now a current contender with BRAVE.

His amateur tenure may have spanned an even more substantial hitlist had it not been for a hand injury which ruled Murtaza out of the 2018 World Championships and majority of the 2019 circuit. In his absence, Magomed Shakhrudinov of Team Russia took over and won the senior light-heavyweight gold medal at the 2018 IMMAF Worlds. The pair would face off upon Murtaza’s eagerly anticipated return at the 2019 World Championships. The reigning champion – Shakhrudinov, and former yet undefeated champion Murtaza, faced off in the semi-finals where the duo’s exceptional skill level and similar styles cancelled each other out, however it was Murtaza who did enough to earn the split-decision win (pictured above) and went on to reclaim the world title. The world’s no.1 light-heavyweight capped off his amateur tenure by stamping out Australia’s Patrick best to claim the 2020 Oceania Open title in Palm Beach, Australia. Of his 12 amateur triumphs, Murtaza completed 6 stoppages and very rarely conceded a round on the scorecards.

Murtaza commented: “Since 2017 I have been part of IMMAF. I’m really grateful to IMMAF staff and directors that I had an opportunity to use their platform to start and shape my career. Thanks to IMMAF I signed a contract with Brave CF, one of the leading world MMA promotions.”

Following the likes of Muhammad Mokaev, Murtaza’s professional debut is no doubt one of the most intriguing amateur transitions of the year and this Thursday he will face 4-1 Belarusian, Vadim Litvin, at BRAVE CF 45.

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Former IMMAF World Champion, UFC’s Amanda Ribas chosen to star in new UFC – Halls Campaign https://immaf.org/2020/11/05/former-immaf-world-champion-ufcs-amanda-ribas-chosen-to-star-in-new-ufc-halls-campaign/ Thu, 05 Nov 2020 07:02:36 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40599

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UFC star Amanda Ribas is set to be the face of a new commercial partnership between the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Halls, the globally popular cough drop brand of Mondelēz International.

Reported by Varginhaonline.com, the 27-year-old Brazilian will star in the “Breathe Deep – Fight Like A Woman” campaign.   

Via television broadcast and social media channels, the campaign is anticipated to document the journey of Ribas to becoming a top UFC athlete. Ribas is currently 10-1 as a professional standout and is undefeated in the UFC with four wins after debuting in the sport’s premier organisation in 2019. Ribas is currently the number-9 ranked contender in the UFC’s women’s strawweight rankings, her competitive roots reach back to her amateur tenure and the 2014 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas where she battled to win the women’s flyweight gold medal.   

In her biggest fight to date, Ribas is schedule to face fellow UFC star Michelle Waterson at UFC 257 on January 23, 2021.

Amanda Ribas: IMMAF 2014

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IMMAF announces new Turkish Member Federation https://immaf.org/2020/10/29/immaf-announces-new-turkish-member-federation/ Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:21:52 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40579

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced a new Turkish MMA organisation entering the IMMAF membership system with the Combat Mixed Martial Arts Sport Association (CMMASA) achieving Observational Membership.

Based in Istanbul with a strong administration and infrastructure, the purpose of the CMMASA board and its membership body is to develop MMA in the Republic of turkey. The CMMASA sees Mixed Martial Arts as the leader within Turkey’s combat sport race and is geared towards athlete development and construction of a national competition network with a clear pathway to the international IMMAF platform. The organisation to date has a history of producing international amateur talent including a former WMMAA world gold medallist.

IMMAF President and CEO in Turkey with the CMMASA

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How Severe is Weight Cutting in MMA? https://immaf.org/2020/10/29/how-severe-is-weight-cutting-in-mma/ Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:19:21 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40572

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By Christopher Kirk

There are many similarities and differences between the varied combat sports: some use strikes, some don’t; some aim to get points by controlling the opponent or pinning them; some attempt to manipulate joints to bring about a submission; and one does all of the above. The common thread that runs through all combat sports, however, is weight cutting. The ritual of reducing a fighter’s weight to ensure they are big enough to compete physically in their bout is as old as organised combat sport itself. So ingrained is the notion of making weight that it is now part of the pomp and ceremony of both MMA and boxing, forming a key part of both sport’s promotional activities. Recent times, however, have seen rising concerns about the practice, with governing and sanctioning bodies working with researchers and fight teams to better understand the outcomes of regular weight cutting on performers. So how does weight cutting affect MMA athletes, and to what extent is it used in our sport? 

Research led by Dr Oliver Barley at Edith Cowan University (see Table 1) found that MMA fighters not only cut more weight than athletes in other related combat sports, but they cut more in the 24 hours before weigh-in through a process called ‘rapid weight loss’. Alarmingly, even the most amount of weight cut by athletes in the other sports is not as great as the amount regularly cut in MMA. The reason for the final 24 hours of a weight cut being called ‘rapid’ weight loss is because of the dehydration methods used in this time-period which are designed to ensure a lot of weight is lost quickly. 76% of MMA fighters reported using saunas to cut weight, compared to only 36-51% of fighters in other combat sports. Use of sweat suits is also more common in MMA with 63% of fighters using these, with 16-50% use in the other sports. The only combat sport that reported a greater use of sweat suits than MMA was wrestling with 83% of these athletes using this method. Importantly though, wrestlers appear to use this method to cut far less weight than MMA fighters, suggesting far less dehydration before competition. Roughly half also reported restricting eating, either skipping 1-2 meals per day or fasting the entire day. In addition to being dehydrated, this food restriction potentially leaves MMA athletes susceptible to eating disorders in the long term and low energy availability in the short term.

Table 1 – Comparison of weight cutting in MMA and related combat sports
SportWeight usually cut (kg)Weight cut in 24Hrs before weigh-in (kg)Weight regained post-competition (kg)Most weight cut (kg)
BJJ4.2 ± 2.61.4 ± 1.43.2 ± 2.36.7 ± 4.6
Boxing5.3 ± 2.91.8 ± 2.14 ± 2.58.5 ± 4.8
Judo3.8 ± 2.11.5 ± 1.13.1 ± 28.1 ± 8.2
Muay Thai5.9 ± 3.52 ± 1.24.6 ± 36.9 ± 3.5
Wrestling4.4 ± 3.72.3 ± 1.54.4 ± 2.47.1 ± 4.2
MMA9.8 ± 7.93.4 ± 1.97.8 ± 3.710.4 ± 4.2

So, we can see that weight cutting in MMA is common practice and more extreme than in related sports. But do we know what effects this might have on the athlete’s health? Dr Andreas Kasper of Liverpool John Moores University studied a professional MMA fighter during their full training camp, tracking their weight loss and physiological responses to the methods used. Over 8 weeks, this fighter lost 17kg, with 7kg being lost in a rapid fashion 36 hours before weigh in. This caused a severe reduction in their testosterone production with a sharp increase in cortisol, suggesting their body was consuming muscle mass for energy – not ideal the day prior to elite sports performance. This fighter also experienced a large increase in both urea and creatinine in their blood, indicative of kidney malfunction, in addition to an extremely high blood sodium content. These findings would give cause to enter the fighter into a hospital bed rather than a professional MMA bout. It’s highly unlikely that this is an isolated incident either, with 43% of athletes at a UK MMA event found to be severely dehydrated prior to competition with their hydration and weight loss readings similar to those reported in weight cutting fatalities in collegiate wrestling in the 1990’s. Tellingly, it was these tragic events that led to widespread rule and culture changes within that sport. In MMA we currently have two fighter deaths formally linked to weight cutting in medical case reports, but Erik Magraken’s website (link below) includes a continuously updated list of fights cancelled due to weight cutting as well as of numerous fighter deaths where an extreme amount of weight cutting occurred.

A final, vital point to make in this article is that this practice does not seem to lead to better results in competition. Earlier this year my colleagues (Dr Carl Langan-Evans and Professor James Morton) and I published a study using California State Athletic Commission data which showed that there is no difference between winners or losers in terms of the amount of weight regained or how much they weighed when they stepped into the cage. This data also showed that fighters at featherweight and below actually enter the cage weighing close to 2 divisions heavier than their official weight. Athletes at lightweight and above competed weighing at close to the limit of 1 full division heavier. This not only calls into question the legitimacy of weight divisions in the first place, but also suggests that if all fighters reduced the amount of weight they cut by roughly half, they would still be facing the same opponents, just without the damaging effects of an extreme weight cut in the days before the bout. Grant Brechney and team of Charles Stuart University found a similar result in Australia, only this time the bout losers actually cut more weight than the bout winners.

In summary, we can see that weight cutting in MMA is far more severe than in related combat sports, likely causing a great deal of harm to the athletes and probably not providing any real performance advantage. Importantly for IMMAF members, we currently do not know how extreme weight cutting is amongst amateur fighters during tournaments, nor do we fully understand the effects of multiple weigh ins during a single week of competition. As a sport and as a community it is vital that we work to change the culture of MMA to better control the severity of weight cutting, starting with the amateur ranks through to the professionals. This will enable our athletes to perform to a higher standard, with longer careers and – most importantly – healthier lives during their time as athletes and after retirement. Only through a concerted joint effort between IMMAF, coaches, fighters and researchers can we make these changes for the good of all involved.

Author Biography

Chris is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology at Sheffield Hallam University and a PhD Researcher at Liverpool John Moores University. He specialises in the physiological effects of combat sport training and performance, and how to best prepare combat sport athletes for competition, with his main focus being MMA.

References

Barley, O. R., Chapman, D. W. & Abbiss, C. R. (2018). Weight Loss Strategies in Combat Sports and Concerning Habits in Mixed Martial Arts. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 1–24.

Brechney, G. C., Chia, E. & Moreland, A. T. (2019). Weight-cutting implications for competition outcomes in mixed martial arts cage fighting. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

Kasper, A. M., Crighton, B., Langan-Evans, C., Riley, P., Sharma, A., Close, G. L. & Morton, J. P. (2018). Case Study: Extreme Weight Making Causes Relative Energy Deficiency, Dehydration and Acute Kidney Injury in a Male Mixed Martial Arts Athlete. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 1–20.

Kirk, C., Langan-Evans, C. & Morton, J. (2020). Worth the weight? Post weigh-in rapid weight gain is not related to winning or losing in professional mixed martial arts. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 30(5). doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0347

Magraken, E. (2014). Documenting the tolls of extreme weight cuts in MMA (updated regularly). Retrieved 28–6, 2018, from http://combatsportslaw. com/2014/09/03/yes-athletes-have-been-hurt-from-weight-cutting-in-mma/ 

Matthews, J. J. & Nicholas, C. (2017). Extreme rapid weight loss and rapid weight gain observed in UK mixed martial arts athletes preparing for competition. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 27(2), 122–129.

Murugappan, K. R., Cocchi, M. N., Bose, S., Neves, S. E., Cook, C. H., Sarge, T., … Leibowitz, A. (2018). Case study: Fatal exertional rhabdomyolysis possibly related to drastic weight cutting. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(4), 1–16.

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IMMAF Virtual Technical Seminar Week – Final Day https://immaf.org/2020/10/16/immaf-virtual-technical-seminar-week-final-day/ Fri, 16 Oct 2020 17:31:40 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40552

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2021 ASIAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS ANNOUNCED

The final day of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s Technical Seminar Week kicked off with a webinar by esteemed Anti-doping consultant, Michele Verroken of Sporting Integrity.

The seminar focused on National Federation responsibilities under the 2021 WADA Code, with guidance about what national bodies need to do to achieve compliance. The talk also celebrated high levels of engagement by IMMAF members on the WADA ADeL e-learning platform.

An open Q&A session with the IMMAF Events Team updated members about IMMAF’s plans for return to competition in 2021, following the cancellation of Championships in 2020, since March:

IMMAF announced its first confirmed 2021 event as the rescheduled Asian Open and Junior Asian Open Championships, set for Nur Sultan in Kazakhstan in the last week of June.

IMMAF is planning for a full events calendar next year, subject to the global pandemic, to include all continental championships, the World Championships, Youth World Championships and new World Teams event. All tournaments are in the final stages of contractual discussions between IMMAF and the respective Host Federations, with all being scheduled for the second half of the year.

The Events Team also gave updates on development projects that include the revised Operational Manual for IMMAF Championships, an instant scoring and match data system, a volunteer programme and a Sustainability Review (to be published next week).

In the President’s Closing Speech, IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, gave further insight into IMMAF’s interim plans for facilitating more competition experience for athletes during these restricted times.

One of the concepts detailed by the President was a Grand Slam series, featuring invitational matches between top 10-ranked IMMAF competitors on the undercards of professional shows. Another proposal is for National Championships Leagues, where bouts take place across regional, inter-club events between teams of three men and two women in 6-minute bouts: These would not contribute to a competitor’s fight records.

The President was joined by the IMMAF CEO, Densign White MBE, who underlined IMMAF’s administrative priorities according to the 2021 – 24 Strategic Plan and gave closing directives to the National Federations.

The CEO accoladed the success of IMMAF’s first virtual Technical Seminar Week, which was moved online due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but proved IMMAF’s best attended Seminar Week yet. He also pointed to the eco-benefits of organising such events online in future.

Board Directors Bertrand Amoussou and Tatiana Klimenko closed by congratulating the seminar attendees, participants and IMMAF staff, and thanking the President and CEO for their dynamic leadership.

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Mixed Martial Arts boss to receive Queen of United Kingdom Birthday honour https://immaf.org/2020/10/16/mixed-martial-arts-boss-to-receive-queen-of-united-kingdom-birthday-honour/ Fri, 16 Oct 2020 17:28:25 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40550

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International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) CEO Densign White has been listed to receive a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) award in the 2020 Queen of the United Kingdom’s birthday honours list.

The order of the British Empire awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom, who have made a positive impact in their line of work. White has been accoladed for his services to sport, and particular his services to bettering diversity in sport.

The judo Olympian has been CEO of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation since November 2014. The organisation is seeking sport recognition for MMA (mixed martial arts) from the Olympic movement, in the face of well-publicised political opposition from other sport stakeholders. 

White also stands as Chairman of Sporting Equals, a charity whose purpose is to promote ethnic diversity in sport.

His athletic sporting credentials include triple Olympian, World Championship medallist, 5 times European medallist and Commonwealth Champion.

At the close of his competitive days, White embarked on a career in sports administration serving 11 years as the Chairman of the British Judo Association, from 2001 to 2012. He moved on to serve internationally as the European Judo Union Head Sports Director and has acted as an executive member of the British Olympic Association. 

In 2018, White was elected to the Council of the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA), an organisation founded to tackle corruption in sport. As one of few black administrative leaders in international sport, he has this year been appointed to SIGA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.

White remains a trustee the British Judo Trust and the Tessa Sanderson Foundation and Academy. 

Densign White commented:

“I have been fortunate my whole life to have been involved in sport in a variety of roles including as athlete and administrator. It is incredibly humbling to receive any recognition for ones work but especially from the Queen’s honours committee. This award is a recognition also of the incredible, dedicated and hard-working team at Sporting Equals trying to promote diversity and end discrimination. I passionately believe in fairness.  In this regard, sport still has some way to go. The concept of a level playing field needs to be applied on and off the field of play equally.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:

“I met Densign through judo at the age of twelve. We went on to represent Great Britain together in the Olympics. Over the years we have worked together in various contexts and have ended up at the helm of the same organisation in mixed martial arts. Densign is long-time friend, confidante and colleague. He has now achieved one of the highest recognitions you can receive in this country, and it is a fitting reward for his determination, consistent beliefs and values.

“This is also massive for the sport of MMA to have someone with his sporting values, recognised by the establishment, as the backbone of its international governing body.”

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IMMAF Virtual Technical Seminar Week – Day Four https://immaf.org/2020/10/15/immaf-virtual-technical-seminar-week-day-four/ Thu, 15 Oct 2020 15:58:20 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40547

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COVID, CONCUSSION & REGULATION IN MMA
ft. MARC GODDARD AND DR. DAVID H WANG

Today, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s Technical Seminar Week presented a webinar with the IMMAF Medical Commission’s Dr. David H Wang, entitled, “COVID – What we know, what we can do.”

Dr. David Wang is on the coal-face of the new-era COVID-security, writing and implementing strategies across large student body populations and working in sport advising on safe return to play. Wang is also a long experienced expert in concussion injuries.

In his talk, Wang gave guidance on current best practice for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in MMA training and events contexts. In the second part, he updated the IMMAF membership on the latest developments in understanding concussion injuries and how to mitigate and manage them. He also touched on new research into the impact of the coronavirus on concussion.

The second webinar of the day was led by refereeing icon and IMMAF Regulatory Affairs Director, Marc Goddard, on the topic of Regulatory Pathways and their importance in MMA, and was by far the most popular talk of the week so far.

As the educational lead for officials at IMMAF, Goddard has been responsible for the training of 100s of referees and judges worldwide, who have gone on to gain experience on the IMMAF Championships circuit under his tutelage. The pathway has been accoladed by professional MMA promoters through their engagement of IMMAF licensed officials. IMMAF officials to recently and currently grace UFC Fight Island, alongside Goddard, include Vito Paollilo (ITA), Angelo Tarantini, Clemens Werner (DEU), Victor Wolf (DEU), Philipp Neumann (DEU) and Ahmad Korchi (FRA). Goddard also presented the new IMMAF Fighting Area® that IMMAF has recently launched on the market.

Tomorrow  (Friday 16) sees the final day of IMMAF’s Technical Seminar week with a webinar led by Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken, of Sporting Integrity on “National Federation Responsibilities Under the 2021 WADA Code”. This will be followed by a Championships Q&A session for members with the IMMAF Events Team, joined by the IMMAF President. The week will conclude with a closing talk by IMMAF President Kerrith Brown and CEO Densign White MBE. In the final two talks of the day, the President is expected to update the membership on the status of planned IMMAF Championships for 2021, as well as new competition concepts that are in the works.

IMMAF members interested in attending any seminars, should contact their National Federation for information.

See the full updated, event programme below, and further information detailed on the event page at immaf.org

IMMAF TECHNICAL SEMINAR PROGRAMME 2020

12 – 16 OCTOBER 2020

MONDAY 12 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC+1):
President’s Welcome & CEO Update   
with President Kerrith Brown & CEO Densign White 

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
On Youth Development (4 – 11 year olds)
plus overview of “Lets Mix Martial Arts” for schools
with Dr. Andrew Moshanov, Director of Development

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Coaching Matters: Impact of rapid weight loss;
MMA Stand-Up & Groundwork Coach Pilot    
with Chris Kirk, PHD – Researcher John Moore University of Liverpool;
Richie Cranny, IMMAFA President, Wimp 2 Warrior founder    
          

TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Women’s Commissions Assembly
(by private invitation for commission members only)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Social Media Workshop for National Federations
with IMMAF Social Media Manager, Andreas Georgiou (Uni4m Media);
IMMAF Brand & Communications Director, Izzy Carnwath

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Integrity, Transparency & Accountability
in the Governance of  MMA: How does your Federation Match Up?
with IMMAF CEO Densign White

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC +1)
MMA FIT (aerobic workout session)
with Bertrand Amoussou

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Cultivating National Membership
with Gosha Malik and Jorden Curran, Member Relations Team

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Commissions Catch-Up 
by private invitation for commission members only

THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
“COVID – What we know, what we can do.”;
Concussions – 2020 Update
with Dr. David H Wang, IMMAF Medical Committee

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential
with Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs

FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Anti-doping: National Federation Responsibilities
Under the 2021 Code
with Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken (Sporting Integrity)                            

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Championships Q&A with Events Team
Live chat with IMMAF events team

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Presidents’ Closing Speech
with President Kerrith Brown

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IMMAF Virtual Technical Seminar Week – Day Three https://immaf.org/2020/10/14/immaf-virtual-technical-seminar-week-day-three/ Wed, 14 Oct 2020 17:12:03 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40541

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IMMAF HOSTS MMA FIT® VIRTUAL WORK-OUT & ALL COMMISSIONS MEETING

The third day of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s annual Technical Seminar Week commenced with a virtual MMA FIT® work-out class, with attendees joining from around the world. 

Led by IMMAF Board Director, Bertrand Amoussou, the dance-based, MMA-inspired, aerobic work-out got the IMMAF membership moving to uplifting tunes, with virtual stage appearances from a dancing IMMAF President Kerrith Brown and Anti-doping Consultant Michele Verroken.

Coaches’ certificated training in MMA FIT® will be available shortly to members, so they can offer the classes to recreational gym attendees. Current programmes include MMA FIT Punch® and MMA FIT Shadow®. MMA FIT Power®, MMA FIT HIT®, MMA FIT Groove®, MMA FIT Zen®, MMA FIT Kid, and MMA FIT Battles® will also be coming soon. For more information visit mmafit.org

Moving onto governance matters, the IMMAF membership team, headed by Gosha Malik, led a seminar on “Cultivating your National Membership” with a presentation from Giles Goodwin of Global Sports Technology (GST) plus national case studies. GST is partnered with IMMAF for the provision of a new Customer Relations Management System, currently under pilot. The IMMAF membership package, available on the platform, is targeted at individual sport participants signing up to their National Federations, giving them access to IMMAF courses, course materials, the gradings system, licenses and registration for IMMAF tournaments. It includes additional member benefits, such as a subscription to IMMAF TV.

The day closed with an all Commissions’ Catch Up Meeting, in replacement of the annual Commissions’ Congress that was to take place at the cancelled World Championships. The session brought together the Chairs and Staff Liaisons of IMMAF’s 17 committees that were established or reformed this year, for the purpose of sharing an overview of their work and to create opportunities for the pooling of expertise. 

Participating committees were the: Athletes’ Commission; Business Development Commission; Communications and Marketing Commission; Competition Bidding Commission; Ethics Commission; Peace Through MMA Commission; Women’s Commission; Youth Development Commission; Anti-doping Committee; Anti-doping Disciplinary Committee; Arbitration Committee; Disciplinary Committee; Financial Audit Committee; Nominations Committee; Coaching Commission; Medical Commission; and Regulatory Affairs Commission.

IMMAF’s Technical Seminar week continues tomorrow (Thursday 15) for Day 4 which includes a medical session entitled “COVID – What we know, what we can do,” and a 2020 update on concussion. Tomorrow’s programme also features world renowned MMA referee and IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Goddard on “Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential”.

IMMAF members interested in attending any seminars, should contact their National Federation for information.

See the full updated, event programme below, and further information detailed on the event page at immaf.org

IMMAF TECHNICAL SEMINAR PROGRAMME 2020

12 – 16 OCTOBER 2020

MONDAY 12 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC+1):
President’s Welcome & CEO Update   
with President Kerrith Brown & CEO Densign White 

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
On Youth Development (4 – 11 year olds)
plus overview of “Lets Mix Martial Arts” for schools
with Dr. Andrew Moshanov, Director of Development

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Coaching Matters: Impact of rapid weight loss;
MMA Stand-Up & Groundwork Coach Pilot    
with Chris Kirk, PHD – Researcher John Moore University of Liverpool;
Richie Cranny, IMMAFA President, Wimp 2 Warrior founder    
          

TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Women’s Commissions Assembly
(by private invitation for commission members only)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Social Media Workshop for National Federations
with IMMAF Social Media Manager, Andreas Georgiou (Uni4m Media);
IMMAF Brand & Communications Director, Izzy Carnwath

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Integrity, Transparency & Accountability
in the Governance of  MMA: How does your Federation Match Up?
with IMMAF CEO Densign White

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC +1)
MMA FIT (aerobic workout session)
with Bertrand Amoussou

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Cultivating National Membership
with Gosha Malik and Jorden Curran, Member Relations Team

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Commissions Catch-Up 
by private invitation for commission members only

THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
“COVID – What we know, what we can do.”;
Concussions – 2020 Update
with Dr. David H Wang, IMMAF Medical Committee

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential
with Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs

FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Anti-doping: National Federation Responsibilities
Under the 2021 Code
with Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken (Sporting Integrity)                            

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Championships Q&A with Events Team
Live chat with IMMAF events team

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Presidents’ Closing Speech
with President Kerrith Brown

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IMMAF Virtual Technical Seminar Week – Day Two https://immaf.org/2020/10/13/immaf-virtual-technical-seminar-week-day-two/ Tue, 13 Oct 2020 16:27:53 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40527

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IMMAF HOSTS FIRST WOMEN’S COMMISSIONS ASSEMBLY

Today, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation held its inaugural Women’s Commissions Assembly (online) as part of IMMAF’s third Technical Seminar Week.

Following the launch of an IMMAF Women’s MMA Commission and National Women’s Commissions this year, the Assembly provided the first collective meeting between the burgeoning groups. 

As stated by IMMAF Women’s Chairwoman, Hayzia Bellem, in her opening talk,“our role is to give a voice to all the people representing female MMA.” 

The focus of the Assembly was the development of female participation in MMA at all levels, with input from around the world.

Contributors included IMMAF athletes from Ireland and Spain, Kiya O’Sullivan and Silvia Juaneda Munoz, representing two of the first IMMAF National Federations to create women’s commissions; MMA coach and renowned professional athlete Catherine Costigan; gym owner Alvina Mulpeter; referee Yeimy Ariza; and Panama National MMA Association President Yariela Mendoza – one of just two female presidents among IMMAF federations

Expert speakers from IMMAF included Athlete Development Consultant, Jorden Curran, on the role of promoters in developing women’s MMA and IMMAF Development Director Andrew Moshanov, who has been working on a coaches’ education module dedicated to the specifics of training women in MMA. 

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown took part and gave his words of support to the movement, highlighting the high value the IMMAF leadership places on female participation and empowerment in MMA.

In the following session, IMMAF Brand & Communications Director Izzy Carnwath and Uni4rm Media’s Andreas Georgiou presented a Social Media Workshop for National Federations.

CEO Densign White concluded the day with a seminar for National Federations on “Integrity, Transparency & Accountability in the Governance of  MMA”. He outlined integral components of good governance to meet international standards, including the role and responsibilities of the board, strategic planning, and financial and risk management.

IMMAF returns tomorrow (Wednesday 14) with Day 3 of its Technical Seminar Week, to include an all Commissions Catch-Up. See full programme below.

IMMAF members interested in attending any seminars, should contact their National Federation for information.

See the full updated, event programme below, and further information detailed on the event page at immaf.org

IMMAF TECHNICAL SEMINAR PROGRAMME 2020

12 – 16 OCTOBER 2020

MONDAY 12 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC+1):
President’s Welcome & CEO Update   
with President Kerrith Brown & CEO Densign White 

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
On Youth Development (4 – 11 year olds)
plus overview of “Lets Mix Martial Arts” for schools
with Dr. Andrew Moshanov, Director of Development

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Coaching Matters: Impact of rapid weight loss;
MMA Stand-Up & Groundwork Coach Pilot    
with Chris Kirk, PHD – Researcher John Moore University of Liverpool;
Richie Cranny, IMMAFA President, Wimp 2 Warrior founder    
          

TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Women’s Commissions Assembly
(by private invitation for commission members only)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Social Media Workshop for National Federations
with IMMAF Social Media Manager, Andreas Georgiou (Uni4m Media);
IMMAF Brand & Communications Director, Izzy Carnwath

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Integrity, Transparency & Accountability
in the Governance of  MMA: How does your Federation Match Up?
with IMMAF CEO Densign White

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC +1)
MMA FIT (aerobic workout session)
with Bertrand Amoussou

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Cultivating National Membership
with Gosha Malik and Jorden Curran, Member Relations Team

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Commissions Catch-Up 
by private invitation for commission members only

THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
“COVID – What we know, what we can do.”;
Concussions – 2020 Update
with Dr. David H Wang, IMMAF Medical Committee

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential
with Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs

FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Anti-doping: National Federation Responsibilities
Under the 2021 Code
with Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken (Sporting Integrity)                            

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Championships Q&A with Events Team
Live chat with IMMAF events team

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Presidents’ Closing Speech
with President Kerrith Brown

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IMMAF Around the World: Spotlight on China https://immaf.org/2020/10/13/immaf-around-the-world-spotlight-on-china/ Tue, 13 Oct 2020 16:14:33 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40525

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by Sophie Mueller

Main image: IMMAF World and Asian Open Champion, Guangmei Han (China) competing at the 2019 World Championships

Last November, the MMA Department of Chinese Boxing Federation (MMADCBF) was approved as IMMAF’s national representative organisation in China. They are responsible for the management of China’s mixed martial arts project, researching and formulating development goals, policies, industry norms, standards and development plans for Chinese MMA. The MMADCBF also organise national MMA competitions in cooperation with IMMAF, as well as working to build a strong national MMA team to represent the country in various international competitions. 

As part of MMADCBF’s drive to develop and promote MMA, the federation has established training centers across the country in Baisha,Hainan Province; ZiBo, Shandong Province; Nanjing, Jiangsu Province: Haerbin, Heilongjiang Province; Qingdao and ShanDong Province. 

The MMADCBF also supports international and top domestic professional promotions, including the UFC and WKG&M-1.

“Currently board elections to the MMA Department of Chinese Boxing Federation are consistent with the structure of the Chinese Boxing Federation, and the executive committee is composed of the leaders of the Chinese Boxing Federation and various local boxing associations. In the next executive committee meeting, the MMA Department of Chinese Boxing Federation will apply for the establishment of the Chinese Boxing Federation Mixed Martial Arts Committee (equivalent to the board of directors of the MMA Department of Chinese Boxing Federation). The members of the committee will be elected from the main leaders of the local associations (or local sports authorities) that have carried out Mixed Martial Arts programs”, commented the MMADCBF about their elections and structure. 

Due to the strong, mature structure of MMADCBF, MMA has the potential to develop rapidly and steadily in China. 

Every two years, the MMADCBF holds national championship tournaments. The last national championship was held in Honhot, Inner Mongolia Province, China in 2017. The 2019 national championship fell through due to the celebration activities of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Due to the pandemic, the national championship was postponed again, and the MMADCBF’s plans to co-organise training and international certification with the IMMAF were also suspended. 

To qualify for the national team, the MMADCGF explains: 

“Athletes who have achieved excellent results in the National Championships will get put forward for the National Training Team, and then those athletes who win the championships in the Teaching Matches (trials) during National Team Training Camp will earn their place on the National Team.”

When asked about their proudest achievements, the MMADCGF comment: 

“MMA Department of Chinese Boxing Federation has landed agreements with all the World’s Top professional MMA promotions in China, including UFC, M-1, etc., and has also held [WMMAA] Asian Championships and World Championships in China.”

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IMMAF Virtual Technical Seminar Week – Day One https://immaf.org/2020/10/12/immaf-virtual-technical-seminar-week-day-one/ Mon, 12 Oct 2020 17:40:43 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40514

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·        IMMAF UNVEILS ‘LET’S MIX MARTIAL ARTS’ PROGRAMME FOR 4 – 11 YEAR OLDS
·        IMMAF OFFERS NEW ‘STAND-UP’ & ‘GROUDWORK’ COACHING QUALIFICATIONS
·        PLUS PRESIDENT’S WELCOME & DAY ONE SUMMARY

On today’s opening day of IMMAF’s third Technical Seminar Week, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation unveiled its forthcoming “Lets Mix Martial Arts” programme for 4 to 11 year old school children, in a seminar led by IMMAF Director of Sport Development, Dr. Andrew Moshanov. 

The focus on of the talk was the additional training that will be required of IMMAF certified coaches, besides vetting in accordance with national child protection policies, and why. It looked at the phases of cognitive, physical and social engagement in young children; the importance of measuring and adapting to the developmental profiles of individual children; and how developmental gaps should be addressed before a child embarks on any sport specific development. An overview was given of the “Let’s Mix Martial Arts” programme, which will be available to National Federations soon.

The first day of  IMMAF Technical Seminar Week 2020 attracted 150 registrants online, peaking at 100 members in attendance at any one time.

Today’s programme was opened by IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, whose welcome talk celebrated 2020’s achievements, including the legalisation and regulation of MMA in France, after many years of determined campaigning:

“And with international MMA hitting Paris last week, we watched the sport truly arrive. This pivotal moment creates waves outside France, since the ban there has shaped the Council of Europe’s perception of the sport and impacted our application for GAISF recognition. “

He moved onto address what an extremely challenging year it had been for the IMMAF family, “since the bombshell of the global pandemic took hold” and the ensuing cancellation of 2020 Championships.

Looking ahead with reference to IMMAF’s new 2021 – 24 Strategy Plan, the President homed in on the continued priorities for IMMAF of sport development, attaining sport and Olympic recognition and commercialisation. He pledged enhanced investment into the areas of commercial, PR and marketing, from IMMAF’s increasing hosting rights income, in order to grow IMMAF’s brand and consumer value

In the face of the COVID pandemic, the President rallied IMMAF’s members: 

“It is our duty now to put everything in place for MMA to emerge on an even stronger platform when sport can fully resume again. We must keep focused on our long term dream of Olympic recognition, which we continue to move closer to every passing week. We are fighting people, well used to standing up again every time we are knocked down and well tested in holding our ground when in a corner. We well know how to feel out the opportunities to reverse any fight. And so, together, as an unwavering force, we cannot be stopped.”

The IMMAF CEO, Densign White, who has been listed for a Queen’s Birthday Honours Award of an MBE, thanked the membership for their messages saying that he had been “overwhelmed by the response from my IMMAF and judo families”.

White updated the membership about the status of IMMAF’s ongoing application to GAISF for sport recognition, against continued resistance from other sports, and described communications with the body as ongoing. He underlined the importance of international sport recognition due to its impact on local recognition and the mandate for National Federations to govern and regulate the sport. Meanwhile, he noted that 49 of IMMAF’s member federations now have national level recognition. White also cited improvements in the new World Anti-doping Agency Code for 2021 which will give the organisation more independence in approving signatories. He stated his hope that through ongoing conversations with WADA, IMMAF could yet avoid going to court with them, though a court date has been set for January. He also spoke of IMMAF’s recent positive Governance Audit, completed Annual Report and the continuance of UFC sponsorship into 2021

The closing session of the day was a Coaching Matters seminar, featuring two topics and speakers: PHD researcher, Chris Kirk of Liverpool John Moore University (UK) talked about the risks posed by rapid weight cuts to athletes, while IMMAF Australia President Richie Cranny fed back on his recent national pilot of IMMAF Stand-Up & Groundwork Coaching qualifications for MMA. The courses and qualifications are now available from IMMAF for National Federations

All today’s seminars are available on demand for members

IMMAF returns tomorrow (Tuesday 13) with Day 2 of its Technical Seminar Week. See full programme below.

IMMAF members interested in attending any seminars, should contact their National Federation for information.

See the full updated, event programme below, and further information detailed on the event page at immaf.org

IMMAF TECHNICAL SEMINAR PROGRAMME 2020

12 – 16 OCTOBER 2020

MONDAY 12 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC+1):
President’s Welcome & CEO Update   
with President Kerrith Brown & CEO Densign White 

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
On Youth Development (4 – 11 year olds)
plus overview of “Lets Mix Martial Arts” for schools
with Dr. Andrew Moshanov, Director of Development

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Coaching Matters: Impact of rapid weight loss;
MMA Stand-Up & Groundwork Coach Pilot    
with Chris Kirk, PHD – Researcher John Moore University of Liverpool;
Richie Cranny, IMMAFA President, Wimp 2 Warrior founder    
          

TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Women’s Commissions Assembly
(by private invitation for commission members only)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Social Media Workshop for National Federations
with IMMAF Social Media Manager, Andreas Georgiou (Uni4m Media);
IMMAF Brand & Communications Director, Izzy Carnwath

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Integrity, Transparency & Accountability
in the Governance of  MMA: How does your Federation Match Up?
with IMMAF CEO Densign White

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC +1)
MMA FIT (aerobic workout session)
with Bertrand Amoussou

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Cultivating National Membership
with Gosha Malik and Jorden Curran, Member Relations Team

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Commissions Congress 
by private invitation for commission members only

THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
“COVID – What we know, what we can do.”;
Concussions – 2020 Update
with Dr. David H Wang, IMMAF Medical Committee

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential
with Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs

FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Anti-doping: National Federation Responsibilities
Under the 2021 Code
with Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken (Sporting Integrity)                            

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Championships Q&A with Events Team
Live chat with IMMAF events team

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Presidents’ Closing Speech
with President Kerrith Brown

The post IMMAF Virtual Technical Seminar Week – Day One appeared first on IMMAF.

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Northern Ireland Sports Minister meets with Ulster MMA Association & IMMAF to further youth development through MMA https://immaf.org/2020/10/12/northern-ireland-sports-minister-meets-with-ulster-mma-association-immaf-to-further-youth-development-through-mma/ Mon, 12 Oct 2020 17:26:04 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40507

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On 7 October, Northern Ireland Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín attended a meeting with Ulster Amateur MMA Association and IMMAF representatives to discuss government support for youth development through MMA projects and the furtherance of recognition for the sport in the region. The Minister’s proposed gym visit to ZK Dojo had been moved onto Zoom, due to restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

UAMMAA founder and chairman, Danny Corr, gave a presentation of his work with potentially “left-behind” youths in politically divided areas of Belfast. His Fight to Unite programme, at ZK Dojo, has a successful track record in delivering GCSE maths and English tuition, OCN level 3 coaching qualifications and personal development for young MMA practitioners. His acclaimed work has received governmental support, as well as support from Laureus Support for Sport and Fight for Peace.

Since then in partnership with Denis Rowan Associates, Corr has been working to develop a cross-border “Sport for Peace” project with UAMMAA’s counterparts in the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA), which will be based in Drogheda with backing from the LMETB. Through the latter formation of IMMAF’s “Peace Through MMA Commission”, with Corr as its Chair, the international federation is now further developing the blueprint to roll out through other National Federations.

Due to disruptions to gym activities caused by COVID-19, Corr detailed on the call how “Fight to Unite” has managed to continue its training of youths via Facebook and video tutorial. Project partner, Emmet Clerkin, outlined plans for work placements abroad for young people on completing their qualifications through the programme, which would further help usher them into the workplace.

The Minister expressed her concern about the impact of Covid restrictions on the mental and physical health of youths and personally testified to the positive effects that engagement with combat sports can have, even through virtual classes at this time. She voiced her support for the initiative, touching on the status of sport recognition for MMA in Northern Ireland, where it is currently not recognised by Sport Northern Ireland. The proposal for an All Ireland approach to the recognition of MMA was raised, since the sport also lacks formal recognition in the Republic, and MMA participants continue to train and compete across both sides of the border.

Participating in the meeting with Minster Carál Ní Chuilín and Danny Corr were: Denis Rowan (Denis Rowan & Associates), Emmet Clerkin (Director LLS Online), Peter Lavery (Head Coach Kyoujin), Jack Corr (Coach and Athlete), Tony Murphy (Department of Communities), Ronin McGinlay (Special Advisor to the Minister), Kerrith Brown (IMMAF President) and Izzy Carnwath (IMMAF Director of Brand and Communications).

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:

“We are hugely grateful to Minister Carál Ní Chuilín for her insightful support for the Fight for Unite project and for the development of good governance for MMA in Northern Ireland. It was extremely positive to hear of her direct experience of the positive impact that engagement in martial arts can have in communities, and its power to connect with young people who might be ‘hard-to-reach’ or left behind. We, at IMMAF, are immensely proud of Danny Corr’s achievements in Northern Ireland, which are well demonstrated in the data he presented. This includes an impressive rate of young people obtaining qualifications through the project.”

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IMMAF Virtual Technical Seminar Week commences tomorrow https://immaf.org/2020/10/11/immaf-virtual-technical-seminar-week-commences-tomorrow/ Sun, 11 Oct 2020 11:05:31 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40506

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12 – 16 OCTOBER 2020

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s third annual Technical Seminar Week kicks off tomorrow, Monday 12 October 2020. Due to international restrictions on gathering and travel, IMMAF is hosting its full programme live and on-demand for members only.

The first day includes a welcome talk from IMMAF President Kerrith Brown in which he is expected to summarise the achievements and challenges of 2020 and give an overview of IMMAF’s strategy and vision moving into 2021. This will be followed by an administrative update from the IMMAF CEO Densign White, and the opportunity for members to ask questions.

One of the highlights of the week is scheduled to follow with the “On Youth Development for 4 – 11 year olds” seminar led by IMMAF Director of Sport Development, Dr. Andrew Mosahov. The talk is set to include an overview presentation of IMMAF’s forthcoming “Lets Mix Martial Arts” programme for schools, which takes IMMAF’s progression pathway down into younger years development.

This is to be followed the Coaching Matters seminar, which will feature two topics and speakers: PHD researcher, Chris Kirk of Liverpool John Moore University (UK) will be talking about the impact of rapid weight loss on athletes, while IMMAF Australia President Richie Cranny will feed back on the recent national pilot of IMMAF Stand-Up & Groundwork Coach qualifications for MMA.

IMMAF members interested in attending any seminars, should contact their National Federation for information.

See the full updated, event programme below, and further information detailed on the event page at immaf.org

IMMAF TECHNICAL SEMINAR PROGRAMME 2020

MONDAY 12 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC+1)
President’s Welcome & CEO Update
with President Kerrith Brown & CEO Densign White

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
On Youth Development (4 – 11 year olds)
plus overview of “Lets Mix Martial Arts” for schools
with Dr. Andrew Moshanov, Director of Development

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Coaching Matters: Impact of rapid weight loss;
MMA Stand-Up & Groundwork Coach Pilot
with Chris Kirk, PHD – Researcher John Moore University of Liverpool;
Richie Cranny, IMMAFA President, Wimp 2 Warrior founder

TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Women’s Commissions Assembly
(by private invitation for commission members only)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Social Media Workshop for National Federations
with IMMAF Social Media Manager, Andreas Georgiou (Uni4m Media);
IMMAF Brand & Communications Director, Izzy Carnwath

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Integrity, Transparency & Accountability
in the Governance of MMA: How does your Federation Match Up?

with IMMAF CEO Densign White

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC +1)
MMA FIT (aerobic workout session)
with Bertrand Amoussou

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Cultivating National Membership
with Gosha Malik and Jorden Curran, Member Relations Team

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Commissions’ Catch Up
by private invitation for commission members only

THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
“COVID – What we know, what we can do.”
Concussions – 2020 Update
with Dr. David H Wang, IMMAF Medical Committee

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential
with Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs

FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Anti-doping: National Federation Responsibilities Under the 2021 Code
with Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken (Sporting Integrity)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Championships Q&A with Events Team
Live chat with IMMAF events team

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Presidents’ Closing Speech
with President Kerrith Brown

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IMMAF Around the World: Spotlight on Spain https://immaf.org/2020/10/09/immaf-around-the-world-spotlight-on-spain/ Fri, 09 Oct 2020 08:32:26 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40498

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By Sophie Mueller

Main image: Spain’s Antoni Josep Marti Segarra places Bronze in the 2019 IMMAF Junior World Championships

Antonio Garcia

FELUCHA (the Spanish Federation of Olympic Wrestling) is the only entity recognised by the government of Spain and the Higher Sports Council for the governance of MMA.

Antonio Garcia from the FELUCHA MMA Technical Committee explains, “FELUCHA is a national federation with Olympic status, that provides a solid structure and privileges for the sport of MMA that would have been impossible to achieve in Spain through an independent association.”

Through the organisation’s dedicated work and government support, the Spanish Amateur MMA Championship is held every year, creating the opportunity for the resulting champion in each weight class to represent their country in IMMAF’s international championships. Notwithstanding the fall-out from COVID19, FELUCHA is preparing its next national championship for November 2020.

The federation holds its presidential elections every four years. Once a year, it holds a National Assembly with several other assemblies also hosted throughout the year. Currently FELUCHA has 300 club members and holds open training courses for coaches at least three times a year.

Since FELUCHA created its dedicated National Professional MMA Committee, it has taken on the sanctioning of professional MMA events in Spain. The organisation provides trained referees, as well as technical and legal support to promoters of professional events.

When asked about their proudest achievements, Garcia comments:

“We have a professional fighter that has come up through our federation now in the UFC, Juan Espino; and we are proud of the results obtained last year by our national amateur team in international IMMAF championships.

“It is also fantastic that MMA in Spain has achieved Olympic recognition and government support. Looking forward, we are eager to watch our counterparts in other IMMAF nations likewise gain their national Olympic recognition.”

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IMMAF celebrates France’s first 2 MMA events in 3 days since ban lifted https://immaf.org/2020/10/08/immaf-celebrates-frances-first-2-mma-events-in-3-days-since-ban-lifted/ Thu, 08 Oct 2020 14:02:00 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40494

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  • “BELLATOR PARIS” ARRIVES AS FIRST GLOBAL, MARQUEE MMA EVENT
  • MMA GRAND PRIX STAGES FIRST MMA MATCHES SINCE BAN


The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is celebrating MMA’s achievement of two first events in France following the sport’s legalisation earlier this year: International promoter Bellator sets the precedent this Saturday, October 10 at the Accor Arena, with a major event in Paris; while tonight’s local event, MMA Grand Prix, provides a debut for regulated MMA competition at the Palais de Sports de Vitry-jsur-Seine, broadcast on UFC Fight Pass.

Government recognition of MMA in January came after more than a decade’s campaigning by IMMAF’s national federation in France (CFMMA), headed by IMMAF Board Director Bertrand Amoussou, alongside other stakeholders and supported by the international federation.

Following an open tender process among national combat sports federations, the French Sports Ministry granted the French Boxing Federation the responsibility of supervising the first phase of development of the sport and establishing a new national MMA federation under its auspices.

The new French MMA Federation (FMMAF) is affiliated with the IMMAF and has been working closely with the international federation to establish training pathways, coaches’ and officials’ licensing, and rules, regulations and protocol for the sport. It is the only organisation that can hold National MMA Championships in the country and manage a national MMA team for IMMAF international tournaments.

It is also the FMMAF that has the mandate to sanction this weekend’s MMA events, and all future professional and amateur MMA events in France. Part of this role includes the training and licensing of officials.

Speaking of the FMMAF’s work with Bellator, as first global MMA promoter on french soil, French Boxing’s Administrative Director, Jean Baptiste Marsaud, said:

“Bellator 248 is a great promotion of MMA in France. The FMMAF is delighted to have been able to collaborate with Bellator, through a professional and intelligent collaboration.”

IMMAF Board Director Bertrand Amoussou commented:

“This is what we have been fighting for all these years, for the right to hold regulated MMA events in France and for the sport to be recognised. I wish the promoters good luck and hope that the French public will appreciate the show.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:

“This week’s MMA events in France, and the welcoming of an international promoter, mark a new era for the sport in the country. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the work of French Boxing to put a structure around the sport for the deliverance of a gold standard for all its participants, from the recreational up to professional, making it a safe, accessible and beneficial sport for all.”

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IMMAF Around the World: Australia https://immaf.org/2020/10/07/immaf-around-the-world-australia/ Wed, 07 Oct 2020 07:59:46 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40489

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An Interview with IMMAFA President Richie Cranny

By Sophie Mueller

Richie Cranny

IMMAFA (International Mixed Martial Arts Federation Australia) is the governing body of MMA in Australia, with currently 25 clubs as members and looking to increase that number significantly over the next 12 months.

IMMAFA President, Richie Cranny, comments:

 “The awareness of IMMAFA here in Australia has increased exponentially in the past eighteen months. This is mainly from the continued push to get as many coaches and officials accredited under our federation and of course through IMMAF itself. Australia was one of the first countries to run the new level 1 courses and now has over 60 recognised coaches and over 20 officials The other successful project has been the expansion of our National Team with tryouts held in multiple states and the expansion of our already experienced national coaching team.”

To-date there have been five coaches’ education courses held in three different states. Additionally, IMMAFA has pioneered a new format for the coaching course with plans for an international launch in 2021 through the international federation.

IMMAFA holds elections every 2 years and their last election was held in August 2019 when Richie Cranny was voted as the new President and Craig Jehn as their new Vice-president.
In ordinary times, the federation tries to hold board meetings every 6 months. Their discussion was about planning for future courses, for the accreditation of both officials and coaches. They also discussed plans for their first ever National Championships.

IMMAFA is currently working towards gaining official recognition as a NSO (National Sporting Organisation) in Australia.

Despite the upward struggle, Richie says, “I am in regular touch with many of the state combat boards, building relationships and demonstrating our professional approach and our continued support for our athletes and the growth of the sport.”

Meanwhile, IMMAFA can boast some very experienced officials, some of which work across professional shows around Australia and even in the UFC:

“We have a great relationship with most of the promotions here, the main ones being XFC and Eternal MMA.”

When asked about IMMAFA’S proudest achievements, Richie Cranny comments:

“Hosting the 2020 Oceania on the Gold Coast. It was an amazing event and our athletes really did us proud. Also, being the first country in the world to roll out the new IMMAF grading system.”

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Online meetings boost IMMAF relations and global communications during world pandemic https://immaf.org/2020/10/05/online-meetings-boost-immaf-relations-and-global-communications-during-world-pandemic/ Mon, 05 Oct 2020 10:20:13 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40480

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In recent months the IMMAF has moved to bring communication with its global membership to a high, despite operating in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the international limitations that it has ushered.

Following the 2020 Oceania Open Championships back in March, the worldwide pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s remaining IMMAF circuit including the hotly anticipated second edition of Youth World Championships and the marquee IMMAF World Championships, the premier platform for amateur mixed martial arts. IMMAF championship events provide a high volume of opportunity for networking, meetings, EGMs, AGMs and significant progression, with leaders of IMMAF’s 100+ member nations in attendance. Further limitations hindering development included restriction of IMMAF staff travel and the unpredictable changes effecting the productivity of IMMAF members, nation to nation.

IMMAF’s member relations team moved quickly to address the risk of distance growing between the international body and its member nations. For the many leaders of MMA’s national federations and associations, opportunity for productivity remains limited with varied lockdown restrictions and government resources dedicated to tackling the pandemic. However, the benefit of education, discussion and consideration remains with opportunity to consider the future and how to move forward. And so, recent months have seen national leaders from around the world attend monthly online meetings via the Zoom communication platform.

Each month has introduced a new and informative topic including presentations on harnessing media platforms, the importance to build and maintain engagement with member clubs and individuals, IMMAF’s cutting edge direction for grass roots youth development coming in 2021, plus updates from the IMMAF President and CEO with Q&A sessions for the IMMAF leadership.

Taking place throughout the month, meetings are catered to time zones and/or language where required, such as Africa (English), Africa (French), Central Asia/Russian speaking, Oceania, Arabic speaking, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and more. Subsequent feedback and national developments as a result of the online catchups have resulted in the decision to maintain the monthly projects, indefinitely.

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IMMAF freezes athlete & team rankings for 2020-21 https://immaf.org/2020/10/01/immaf-freezes-athlete-team-rankings-for-2020-21/ Thu, 01 Oct 2020 21:49:16 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40478

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has announced its decision to freeze the ranking points for the IMMAF World Amateur MMA Rankings for both Athletes and National Teams, (backdated) from 8 March 2020 until 9 March 2021, subject to the global pandemic situation.

This is due to the cancellation of all IMMAF tournaments in 2020, with the exception of the Oceania Open that took place in Australia between 6th and 8th March. IMMAF is planning to resume its competitions in 2021.

The IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown, said:

“The reason for this decision by the IMMAF Board is to ensure fairness in light of the cancellation of competitions this year. This is to allow the value earned in ranking points to be carried over to when competitions recommence. We are fully planning to come back bigger and stronger in 2021 and we will make sure, for our athletes, that it will have been worth the wait.”

ABOUT THE IMMAF WORLD AMATEUR MMA RANKINGS:

The IMMAF World Amateur MMA Rankings are determined by the points accrued by athletes and National Teams through participation in IMMAF Continental Open and World Championships. Full ranking points are issued where there are twenty (20) or more national teams competing at an event. Where there are less than twenty (20) nations competing, then only 50% of the full ranking points are issued.

In ordinary times, the points gained in each individual competition expire as follows:

· For the first 12 months, ranking points retain their full value (100%)
· After 12 months, the value of the points decreases by 50%.
· After 24 months, the value of the points is reduced to 0.

To view the IMMAF World Amateur Rankings go to https://immaf.org/rankings/
For all enquiries contact IMMAF Championships Director, alistair.pettitt@immaf.org

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IMMAF Certified Fighting Area ® (MMA Ring) hits the market https://immaf.org/2020/10/01/immaf-certified-fighting-area-mma-ring-hits-the-market/ Thu, 01 Oct 2020 12:33:24 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40403

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation is proud to bring to market its first ever certified, IMMAF Fighting Area ® (MMA Ring) for academies, gyms, clubs and events globally.

The IMMAF built ring is now available to buy, following lengthy consultation, design, development and manufacturing periods, under world-renowned referee and IMMAF Regulatory Affairs Director, Marc Goddard.

With athlete safety at the heart of its design, IMMAF Fighting Area ® has been developed based on the collective, global experience of IMMAF and WMMAA officials that spans 10,000s of mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts worldwide over more than a decade.

The bespoke, floor-standing ring features enhanced modifications to ensure fast and easy assembly, safe use, disassembly and storage.

It boasts several unique and essential design modifications that will see it as a first-in-class product, setting the recommended standard for IMMAF National Federations and for all MMA competitions held under IMMAF or Unified rules and regulations.

The Fighting Area comes complete with its own storage box and accessories.

Download Full Product Specifications [here]

For all sales enquires contact info@immaf.org

WATCH VIDEO: Introducing the IMMAF Fighting Area ® with Marc Goddard, IMMAF Head of Regulatory Affairs

WATCH VIDEO: In-Depth Walk-through of the IMMAF Fighting Area ®

IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affair, Marc Goddard, said:

“I’m personally thrilled to bring this project to the fore. For more years than I can remember the ring, as the centre piece of any MMA event, has always been at the forefront of my mind, and eyes! I urge you to take a look at the accompanying videos where I explain the origins, reasons and benefits of the IMMAF Fighting Area.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“The calibre of the MMA ring is fundamental to competitor safety, which is a driving motive of IMMAF’s. Anyone who has been in the sport a while will have their own horror stories that illustrate the perils of poorly made equipment. This is why, as part of our regulatory drive, IMMAF has taken the design and building of certified rings for its Championships in-house, drawing on the vast technical experience of our Regulatory Affairs Commission and global network of officials. We are proud to now be able offer this certified product for purchase to our National Federations and the wider MMA market, to again raise the safety standard across the sport.”

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IMMAF presents Virtual Technical Seminar Week https://immaf.org/2020/09/30/immaf-presents-virtual-technical-seminar-week/ Wed, 30 Sep 2020 14:41:03 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40391

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12 – 16 October 2020
For IMMAF Members

The International Mixed Martial Arts (IMMAF) presents its third annual Technical Seminar Week from 12 to 16 October 2020. Due to current international restrictions on gathering and travel, IMMAF will host this year’s event online, live and on-demand.

Among a range of topics from good governance in sport; visualisation for elite performance; and regulatory affairs to a social media workshop and an MMA FIT work-out class, highlight topics are set to include:

  • an exclusive overview of IMMAF’s forthcoming program for 4 – 11 year old children: “Lets Mix Martial Arts”
  • “COVID – What we know, what we can do,” with the IMMAF Medical Committee’s Dr H. Wang

The IMMAF President and CEO in their welcome talk can also be expected make some key announcements. Meanwhile, two assemblies will take place – the Women’s Commissions’ Congress and the (all) Commissions Assembly.

Of the Seminar Week, IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, commented:

“While the global lock-down has restricted the organisation of competitions and physical events, the IMMAF family has used the time opportunity to focus on governance and upskilling as we continue to strive to meet the highest standards, with the aim to come back stronger in 2021. This Seminar Week presents an opportunity for IMMAF to come together again as a community, and we are pleased to offer members a range of educational seminars to assist the continued development and growth of their organisations during this time.”

IMMAF members interested in attending, should contact their National Federation for information.

See the full event programme below.

IMMAF TECHNICAL SEMINAR PROGRAMME 2020

MONDAY 12 OCTOBER:

13:00 hrs (UTC+1):
President’s Welcome & CEO Update:
(For All the Latest Developments)
President Kerrith Brown & CEO Densign White

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
On Youth Development (4 – 11 year olds):
plus exclusive overview of the IMMAF program for schools, “Lets Mix Martial Arts”
with Andrew Moshanov – IMMAF Director of Sport Development; Ott Tonissar;
EMMAF President (Estonia); Vartan Aparian – CMMAF (Cyprus);
Ryan Phillips – MMASA (South Africa)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Coaching Matters: Visualisation for Athlete Performance;
Impact of Rapid Weight Loss
with Vinny Shoreman – Mind Coach; and
Chris Kirk, PHD – Researcher John Moore University of Liverpool

TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER:

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Women’s Commissions Assembly (by private invitation only)

15:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Social Media Workshop for National Federations
with Andreas Georgiou (Uni4m Media), IMMAF Social Media Manager;
Izzy Carnwath IMMAF Comms Director; plus, special guest (TBC)

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Integrity, Transparency & Accountability in the Governance of MMA
with IMMAF CEO Densign White

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER

13:00 hrs (UTC +1)
MMA FIT (workout session)
with Bertrand Amoussou, IMMAF Board Director

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Cultivating National Membership
Gosha Malik, Member Relations Manager;
and Jorden Curran, Member Development Consultant

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Commissions Congress (by private invitation only)

THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
“COVID – What we know, what we can do.”
with Dr. David H Wang, IMMAF Medical Committee

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential in MMA
with Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs

FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Anti-doping: National Federation Responsibilities Under the 2021 Code
with Michele Verroken, IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Championships Q&A with Events Team
Live chat with IMMAF events team

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Presidents’ Closing Speech
with President Kerrith Brown

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IMMAF Around the World: Spotlight on Ukraine https://immaf.org/2020/09/28/immaf-around-the-world-spotlight-on-ukraine/ Mon, 28 Sep 2020 16:37:56 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40324

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An interview with MMAUKR Vice-president, Anton Blank, by Sophie Mueller.

MMAUKR Vice-president Anton Blank with the IMMAF President

Since 2012, governing body MMA Ukraine (MMAUKR) has gained recognition from its Sports Ministry, as the only organisation in the Ukraine mandated to develop the sport of MMA. Currently the organisation has more than 200 member clubs.

“The federation has national status. There is a representative office in each region of the country, which is engaged in the development of MMA in its region: These are responsible for opening gyms and organising tournaments and events, as well as bringing athletes to all-Ukrainian competitions,” says Vice-president for Regional Development of the Eastern Region, Anton Blank.

The Ukrainian federation holds its general meeting at the end of each year: “At it, we sum up the results of the outgoing year, award the best athletes, coaches, judges, heads of regional federations and our partners. The last meeting was held in January. In addition to the awarding ceremony, new vice-presidents were elected to the Federation Presidium.”

President Oleg Gennadyevich Rozhkevich has been elected for a ten-year term, which extends to vice-presidents and honorary presidents. Four vice-presidents were the last to join the board in January: Sergey Samoilenko, Igor Gergelyuk, Mikhail Smolka and Anton Blank.

Speaking of the federation’s activity in organising MMA competitions, Blank details, “We hold the Ukrainian National Championship for participants of all ages, the Cup of Ukraine, as well as open regional cups and championships. The last all-Ukrainian event was the Ukrainian Cup in December.”

At that event, winners are selected for the national team to represent Ukraine on the international stage, while the second and third places become alternates.

In the wake of COVID19, MMAUKR’s current goals are to resume their regular tournaments as well as launching a permanent professional league.

Blank comments: “This will allow athletes who have completed their amateur career to move into the professional league, increasing the recognition of MMA among the population of the country. For this, we are working with media resources, authorities and law enforcement agencies. We already held the first championship among law enforcement agencies in June this year.”

With the support of its sports ministry, local authorities in the region and a good infrastructure, MMAUKR has held preparatory camps for the Ukrainian national team in several cities of the country. They invited a range of coaches to exchange experience with the head coach of the national team, themselves and with the athletes. MMAUKR has a number of qualified judges and has completely reformed the competition and judging system.

“Several of our judges were trained and certified by Mark Goddard and gained practice at the IMMAF World and European Championships,” testifies Blank. “They have since organised judicial seminars in every major city in the country.”

Blank equally describes refereeing by MMAUKR’s officials as “the highest quality among all mixed martial arts organisations in the territory of Ukraine”.

Due to this, MMAUKR’s officials are invited to work across professional MMA, professional combat sambo, “free-fighting” and Cossacks’ fighting.

When asked about their proudest achievements, Blank comments, “Our biggest organisational achievements are the reform of judging and the management of competitions according to IMMAF standards. In terms of sporting achievements, these are the gold medals won at the IMMAF-WMMAA world championships by female competitors, Daria Samchyk and Anastasia Svetkivska, as well as Svetkivska’s gold at the European Championships. Among the men, this would be the European gold medal won by Pavel Senchenko, as well as the gold medals from the World and European Championships of Ata Atdaev.”

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IMMAF Around the World: Spotlight on Italy https://immaf.org/2020/09/24/immaf-around-the-world-spotlight-on-italy/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 09:45:19 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40215

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By Sophie Mueller

Since 2016, when FIGMMA (Federazione Italiana Grappling Mixed Martial Arts) was formally elected as an IMMAF member, the organisation has progressed its governance of MMA in Italy. In fact, today, FIGMMA’S Vice-president Vito Paolillo describes FIGMMA as having “an absolute monopoly” on the sport in Italy.

“FIGMMA is growing a lot thanks to the incredible success of the MMA discipline in Italy and around the world,” comments Paolillo.

The federation holds board elections every four years. The board consists of the Federal President Saverio Longo, Vice-president Vito Paolillo and MMA consultants Fabio Ciolli and Filippo Stabile. The board’s most recent discussion was concerning the affiliation process for club members for 2021, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although MMA was recognised by Italy’s National Olympic Committee from 2009 to 2013, the sport lost its recognition after United World Wrestling (under which MMA was housed) relinquished its guardianship of MMA. FIGMMA is currently operating under the recognition of the Italian Federation of Judo, Wrestling, Karate and Martial Arts.

“Today FIGMMA is working to get National Olympic Committee recognition again for the sport of MMA, even if it will not be easy to obtain it before the IMMAF obtains recognition from the GAISF,” explains Paolillo.

When asked about FIGMMA’S current goal, the Vice-president comments, “We are waiting to be absorbed by the Italian Federation of Judo Wrestling Karate Martial Arts (FIJLKAM).”

Despite the obstacle of gaining back recognition for MMA, FIGMMA’s proudests achievements have been the successful organisation of two IMMAF international events in 2019 – the Senior and Junior European Championships and the Youth World Championships, followed by FIGMMA athletes and officials being selected by the UFC.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FIGMMA has 180 affiliated club members in 2020, compared with 192 in 2019. Even though the federation is focused on the development of amateur MMA, it is also responsible for sanctioning and regulating almost all professional MMA events in Italy.

In addition, FIGMMA activities includes organising national officials courses across the country, throughout the year, along with organising three national competitions every year. The last competition was the 9th Italian Cup, which took place in Rome on the 15 December 2019.

FIGMMA has providing weekly news updates and online examinations, using platforms such as Microsoft Teams, to keep officials focused due to the lack of tournaments and events at this time.

WATCH FIGMMA’S 2019 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS HIGHLIGHTS:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNy_jcI5xaw&ab_channel=FIGMMA

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IMMAF presents Virtual Technical Seminar Week for National Federations https://immaf.org/2020/09/16/immaf-presents-virtual-technical-seminar-week-for-national-federations/ Wed, 16 Sep 2020 13:03:23 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40209

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation invites members to attend its third annual Technical Seminar congress from 12 to 16 October 2020. Due to current international restrictions on gathering and travel, IMMAF will host this year’s event online, live and on-demand.

With finalised programme and access information to be released shortly, IMMAF has published the event schedule as detailed below.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“While the global lock-down has restricted the organisation of competitions and physical events, we must use the time opportunity to focus on governance and upskilling as we continue to strive to meet the highest standards with the aim to come back stronger in 2021. The Seminar Week presents an opportunity to come together again as a community and we are pleased to offer National Federation delegates a range of educational seminars to assist the continued development and growth of their organisations during this time.”

If there are any particular topics members would like to see covered in a session, please contact the seminar organiser.

IMMAF TECHNICAL SEMINAR PROGRAMME 2020

Monday 12 October

13:00 hrs (UTC+1):
President’s Welcome & CEO Update: (For All the Latest Developments)
President Kerrith Brown & CEO Densign White

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
On Youth Development (4 – 11 year olds)
Coaching Commission   
contact: andrew.moshanov@immaf.org                       

15:00 hrs
Coaching Matters (title TBC)
Coaching Commission
contact: andrew.moshanov@immaf.org

Tuesday 13 October

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Women’s Commissions Assembly  
contact: gosha.malik@immaf.org

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Social Media Workshop for National Federations
Andreas Georgiou (Uni4m Media), IMMAF Social Media Manager;
Izzy Carnwath IMMAF Comms Director; plus special guest (TBC)
contact: isobel.carnwath@immaf.org

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Integrity, Transparency & Accountability in the Governance of MMA: How does your Federation Match Up?
IMMAF CEO Densign White
contact: isobel.carnwath@immaf.org

Wednesday 14 October

13:00 hrs (UTC +1)
MMA FIT (workout session)
Bertrand Amoussou, IMMAF Board Director

14:00 hrs (UTC+1):
Cultivating National Membership
Gosha Malik, Member Relations Manager; and Jorden Curran, Member Development Consultant
contact: gosha.malik@immaf.org

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Commissions Congress (by private invitation for commission members only)

Thursday 15 October

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Championships Q&A with Events Team 
Live chat with IMMAF events team
contact: 
alistair.pettitt@immaf.org

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Why Regulatory Pathways are Essential
Marc Goddard, IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs
contact: marc.goddard@immaf.org

Friday 16 October

14:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Anti-doping: National Federation Responsibilities Under the 2021 Code
Michele Verroken, IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant
contact: michele.verroken@immaf.org

15:00 hrs (UTC+1)
“COVID – What we know, what we can do.”
Dr. David Wang, IMMAF Medical Committee (TBC)
contact: yoni.gottlieb@immaf.org

16:00 hrs (UTC+1)
Presidents’ Closing Speech
President Kerrith Brown

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Member sign-ups kick off first season for MMA in France https://immaf.org/2020/09/10/member-sign-ups-kick-off-first-season-for-mma-in-france/ Thu, 10 Sep 2020 08:46:04 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40206

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Following the legalisation and recognition of MMA in France at the beginning of the year, under the auspices French Boxing Federation, on Wednesday 9 September the French MMA Federation launches its registration system for club affiliations and licensing.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:

“IMMAF fully commends the French system that takes sports governance and regulation extremely seriously and therefore requires licensing of sport coaches and clubs in order to protect participants. We have been working closely with the French Boxing Federation and French MMA Federation in their implementation of international standards as they work to establish a national framework for MMA. The FFB, and the new FMMAF beneath it, have worked at speed and in depth to be able launch a membership system so soon. As the international governing body for MMA, we recommend that anyone in France who is serious about their practice of MMA under the globally recognised Unified Rules should sign up to an FMMAF affiliated club, since the FMMAF is the only organisation in France that can provide a hallmark of excellence, recognised at an international level by governing bodies, national governments and the world’s leading commercial promoters.”

A fully digitalized system

For club membership registration and the of licensing club members and practitioners, the FMMAF is offering a digitalised system via a dedicated App. The aim is that the system should simplify administrative management, providing optimal flexibility for members of the MMA community to complete the process at any time from Wednesday September 9 from any computer or smartphone.

Licenses for each MMA practice

The Federation caters to different training pathways for those practicing MMA. A range of license options are therefore offered at various price points with the aim of being as affordable and beneficial to the practitioner as possible. The FMMAF is keen to facilitate access to the discipline to as many people as possible.

Details of license prices and eligibility for club membership are available on the FMMAF website alongside a link to the application.

Find out more

Affiliate your club – Eligibility

Membership can be applied for from September 9 for clubs that have formed their Management Committee (1 President, 1 Treasurer, 1 Secretary) and have a certified trainer who has completed their additional, initial training; holds a federal license; or is in training under the FMMAF.

Information on federal training

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IMMAF announces a new member federation in Barbados https://immaf.org/2020/08/27/immaf-announces-a-new-member-federation-in-barbados/ Thu, 27 Aug 2020 08:55:20 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40192

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is pleased to announce that the Barbados Mixed Martial arts Federation (BMMAF) has been granted Observational Membership to MMA’s international governing body.

There has been long standing awareness among Caribbean nations for the need to develop the sport of MMA and Barbados has been no different. Based in the capital city of Bridgetown, the Barbados Mixed Martial Arts Federation was established in 2013 to promote and develop amateur and recreational (non-professional) MMA in the country as part of a collective drive among the Caribbean islands. The Bajan federation enjoys a cooperative association with national organisations for grappling, full contact kick-boxing and beach wrestling.

With strong foundations in place, the national governing body is in the process of pursuing government recognition and has sourced partnerships with supporting organizations and institutions within combat sport, education and media.

Paul Forte stands as President of the Barbados MMA Federation with the support from Director Rollins Alleyne. Paul Forte was integral to the establishment of the BMMAF in 2013 with his background as a training consultant. Rollins Alleyne is a widely recognised figure in the Caribbean for his contributions to the development of combat sports.

On its acceptance by IMMAF, the Barbados MMA Federation issued the following statement:

“Having been accepted as a member of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, the Barbados Mixed Martial Arts Federation can only express gratitude for its membership which now affords us the opportunity of attaining international and professional recognition. Our membership with IMMAF has been accepted as the staircase to global excellence, growth and participation. We are proud to be a member of this institution that has given life, sustenance, and stability to Mixed Martial Arts all over the world. We are even more grateful to the Administration and Team at IMMAF for extending its hand to the BMMAF.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:

“We have been impressed by the calibre of individuals driving the Barbados MMA Federation, by its work so far and its collaborative partnerships and associations. Through adopting unified international standards and IMMAF’s technical support, the BMMAF has the potential to evolve into a world class organisation. MMA’s traction and development is growing in the Caribbean and we look forward to seeing the impact of this growth on the wider development of the amateur sport and IMMAF competitions in Pan America.”

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IMMAF around the world: spotlight on Germany https://immaf.org/2020/08/25/immaf-around-the-world-spotlight-on-germany/ Tue, 25 Aug 2020 10:12:06 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40183

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An Interview with German Mixed Martial Arts Federation President Clemens Werner

In June 2012 , the German Mixed Martial Arts Federation (GEMMAF) was officially formed to represent Germany under IMMAF.

Today, GEMMAF stands as the largest national MMA federation in Germany with its 50 member gyms, showing a 425% increase in membership over the last three years and with yet further scope for growth.

“With every championship we are growing and growing,” comments GEMMAF President Clemens Werner. “We are bringing the German MMA scene together.”

While MMA is not yet recognised as a sport in Germany and therefore unfunded, GEMMAF’s progress rests on the drive and passion of President Werner, Vice-president Lutz Heyden and treasurer Treasurer Mairia Cieschinger who contribute their time pro bono, supported by volunteers.

Against the odds, GEMMAF has successfully shaped itself into an organisation that carries out all the duties of national governing body in accordance with international governance and integrity standards.

As one of IMMAF’s most organised members, the federation holds board elections every 4 years, with the last taking place on 24 August 2019, and conducts monthly board meetings. Most recent board discussions, according to Werner, have related to the return to sport and sport competition in the wake of restrictions posed by COVID 19.

Core GEMMAF activities have included the education and licensing of coaches and officials.

“In 2019 we held a coach certification course with 22 participants. Because of COVID-19 and the government restrictions on gatherings and sport, we have not been able to hold further certification courses in 2020. We have therefore developed a program that corresponds with the German Olympic Committee and enables us to establish about 70% of coach certification seminars online. Participants will have to be physically present for just the practical part and the examinations.”
 
GEMMAF has also held 4 judge courses attended by more than 60 participants across 4 different locations, with 2 referee courses planned for the second half of 2020.
 
Another of GEMMAF’s achievements has been the establishment of a national competition circuit culminating in annual National Championships.
 
“We hold 4 regional championships as qualifier tournaments for the National Championships,” explains Werner. “Due to COVID 19 we have only managed to hold 1 regional championship this year, on 29 February in the south of Germany with about 60 participants. We are unlikely to be able to catch up on all our full competition calendar this year, but we wil try our best.”

To qualify for the National team for IMMAF international championships, GEMMAF administrates a ranking system, for which athletes can collect points through competing on the national circuit.

The German National Team has particularly made its mark in IMMAF’s women’s divisions. In 2019, junior women’s strawweight Anna Gaul earned the gold medal for Germany in the European and World Championships. Teammates Renaná Bruckstein and Clara Danssman also medalled in the Europeans, respectively winning silver in the women’s senior flyweight category and bronze in the women’s senior strawweight.
 
While Werner describes GEMMAF’s main focus as the development of the amateur sport, the federation is also responsible for the sanctioning and officiating of private, professional MMA events that include WE LOVE MMA, National Fighting Championship and German Cage Pioneer.

“For all these events we provide the officials and apply our ruleset and standards.”
 
Clemens himself serves as an official on major international shows including UFC, for whom he recently judged at UFC Fight Island, giving an indication of the standard of German officiating under GEMMAF.
 
Asked about GEMMAF’S proudest achievements, Werner comments:
 
“I think we can be proud of our development in the last 3 years. We emerged from a small federation with 8 member gyms into the biggest German MMA federation with about 50 member gyms. I think we are bringing the German MMA scene together with our tournaments, which is beautiful to see every time.”
 
Clemens is proud of GEMMAF’s recognition under IMMAF and its role in setting and implementing unified, global safety standards at a national level.
 
Asked about the biggest challenges faced by GEMMAF, Werner cites its reliance on volunteers and “being able to source new volunteers who are willing to invest their time.”
 
Looking forward, GEMMAF’s goal is to create regional federations within Germany to meet national recognition criteria, “and of course, getting back to holding championships and events as soon as possible.”

Main Image: Anna Gaul wins gold for Team Germany at the 2019 IMMAF World Championships. Pictured with GEMMAF Vice-president Lutz Heyden (right)

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The Netherlands awarded individual membership under IMMAF https://immaf.org/2020/08/24/the-netherlands-forms-national-mma-federation-under-immaf/ Mon, 24 Aug 2020 06:09:56 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40181

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The new Mixed Martial Arts Association Netherlands (MMAAN) has been awarded individual membership by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF).

Recently appointed board director, Rodney Van Der Vlugt, heads the Commission for the Development of MMA Coaching and Training. Der Vlugt is an IMMAF-certified coach and gym owner with a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu under Carlson Gracie.

The Netherlands has a tremendous heritage in martial arts as one of the world’s foremost hotbeds for kickboxing. While MMA is a fairly new yet growing sport in the country, MMAAN is committed to implementing legitimate foundations for its governance and development.

Van Der Vlugt stated:

“MMA is starting to get traction but lacks structure, hence my application to start a national federation under IMMAF in the Netherlands. Events should be structured correctly, and coaches require universal processes and the tools to teach their students. Our first step is to establish relationships with all Dutch MMA clubs in order to openly share and discuss our vision for good governance with all involved.”

President Kerrith Brown said:

“With the Netherlands renowned as a hotbed for combat sports talent in Europe, IMMAF is excited to see the establishment of a national federation in the Netherlands to safeguard the development of the sport of MMA as it continues to grow in popularity in the country. The nation’s participation in IMMAF Championships can be anticipated to bring another dimension to the striking aspect of the game and present some interesting challenges to wrestling’s current dominance across our divisions.”

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Rupert Beloff Chairs Arbitration Committee of legal experts https://immaf.org/2020/08/18/rupert-beloff-chairs-arbitration-committee-of-legal-experts/ Tue, 18 Aug 2020 09:22:31 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40175

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As part of IMMAF’s commitment to good governance, an international group of legal and arbitration experts is currently hard at work as part of the Arbitration Committee.

The IMMAF Arbitration Committee, which was elected by the General Assembly,  was created specifically to play an independent role in judging complaints, disputes and appeals arising from decisions by other IMMAF Disciplinary bodies.

The Chair, Rupert Beloff, is a UK based barrister with broad commercial and public law experience. He specialises in all aspects of sports and media law. His wide-ranging experience of sports litigation and advisory work includes regulatory and disciplinary proceedings, anti-doping, free movement and right to play cases, as well as contractual and sponsorship disputes.

He has represented and advised clubs, governing bodies, coaches and individual sports men and women in front of a wide range of tribunals and courts.

Rupert also regularly lectures and gives seminars on sports law subjects and is a co-author of several leading books in the field.“It is of utmost importance for all IMMAF stakeholders that disputes are resolved efficiently, transparently and, above all, fairly and justly,” said Rupert.

“I am delighted to have been appointed Chair of the Arbitration Committee, which will work to set up an independent arbitral panel that embodies the highest standards of fair dispute resolution and that best serves the needs of all those involved with amateur mixed martial arts.”

The other members of the Ethics Committee are:

  • Sean Sullivan Gibbs, who has held directorships and senior commercial positions with contracting and consultancy firms in the United Kingdom and Internationally. With over 30 years’ experience in the onshore and offshore construction and engineering industries, Sean has worked in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. He has acted as quantum expert before various dispute resolution tribunals including adjudication, dispute board, expert determination, and arbitration. Sean is also a former WAKO British full contact champion and combat sport enthusiast.
  • Mathieu Laplante-Goulet, from Canada, has a professional background as a lawyer and experience in litigation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), focused on human rights, labour, administrative, penal law and due-diligence inquiries. Mathieu worked with Dr. Dirk-Reiner Martens’ Law firm in Munich, as part of an international Masters’ degree in sports law. This gave him valuable experience as part of a team in a diversified, multi-cultural and international environment, working in both French and English.
  • Eusebio Rivera, who is the Technical Director and International Representative of the Panama MMA federation, completes the Arbitration team. Eusebio was re-elected unanimously by the IMMAF General Assembly to serve a second term on the committee.

IMMAF ARBITRATION COMMITTEE 2020-23 ROLE

  • Review and update current procedures, rules and guidelines related to IMMAF related disputes.
  • Liaise closely with the IMMAF Disciplinary Committee and Anti-doping disciplinary Committees.
  • Identify and build a pool of expert Arbitrators to handle cases.
  • Manage cases and ensure that all procedures respect relevant rules and guidelines.

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IMMAF rolls out National Women’s MMA Commissions in eight nations https://immaf.org/2020/08/13/immaf-rolls-out-national-womens-mma-commissions-in-eight-nations/ Thu, 13 Aug 2020 06:45:24 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40156

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is proud to announce the launch of National Women’s MMA Commissions in 8 countries: Ireland, England, Spain, Panama, Columbia, Congo, Cameroon and India.

Since its formation on 8 March 2020, the IMMAF Women’s Commission, led by Chairwoman Hayzia Bellem, has been working to support the establishment national level women’s commissions across IMMAF member countries as part of a drive to enable more women to shine in the octagon.
 
A key remit of the IMMAF Commission is to audit the gender parity of mixed martial arts and define recommended actions to develop women’s MMA both nationally and at the international level, across all areas of the sport. To this end, the IMMAF Women’s Commission has launched a survey to identify the main obstacles to female participation in MMA and gather women’s ideas on how the sport could made more appealing to them as participants.

The new National Women’s MMA Commissions are already contributing to the audit and have been establishing their goals, including actions such as;

• convincing promoters to feature at least a minimum number of female fights on their fight cards 
• developing collaborative MMA classes that will make them more appealing or accessible to women (e.g. MMA cardio fitness, family friendly MMA classes etc.) 
• the advertising of MMA gradings amongst female athletes to highlight the different levels in MMA to increase safety and confidence in training
• the advertising of the various opportunities and routes for women to be involved in MMA, for example, in refereeing and judging
• promoting the positive impact of MMA on physical and mental health

As a result of the international commission’s recommendations at meetings attended by both the IMMAF CEO and President, IMMAF has committed to developing further training for MMA’s coaches and athletes on safeguarding and ethical behaviors to protect women and young girls.

The IMMAF Women’s Commission is planning its first Women’s Assembly with its National Women’s MMA Commissions in October. 

IMMAF Women’s Commission Chairwoman, Hayzia Bellem, says she has started to fulfill her dream “to highlight the beauty of women participating in Combat Sports. Giving women the platform to demonstrate their strength and power sends a great message to future generations. MMA is not about violence. MMA is a universal combat sport which allows participants to express their individual fighting style. By developing female MMA at a global level, we also support a more universal need, to achieve equality between men and women.”
 
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, said:

“I am proud of the tremendous start with which our Women’s Commission has shot out of the gates. It is our goal to increase women’s participation in MMA and create a more equitable environment. The take-up among the national federations demonstrates the demand for support in this area and I’m impressed with the proactivity with which our women’s commissions have taken on this challenge.”

IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken, who also sits on the Women’s Commission said:

“Recognition of the value of promoting women’s participation in the sport, at all levels, is an important part of any international sports federation. IMMAF has gone further in supporting a network of national women’s committees, to complement and partner the International Committee. Women’s participation in MMA is being encouraged, celebrated and supported both nationally and internationally. We are delighted to welcome women as coaches, officials and athletes and to recognize their contribution to our sport. “

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IMMAF veterans continue winning ways at Brave 38 https://immaf.org/2020/08/10/immaf-veterans-continue-winning-ways-at-brave-38/ Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:22:09 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40153

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Veterans of IMMAF’s international Amateur MMA platform continued their winning ways as professional MMA standouts at BRAVE CF 38 in Sweden. Following last week’s clean sweep of victories for IMMAF alumni at BRAVE 37, the organisation’s collaboration with Bulldog Fight Night continued in Stockholm on Saturday, August 8.

At amateur MMA’s top-flight England’s PK Zadeh reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships and scored wins over top featherweight standout Enrique Hecher Sosa of Spain, and Kazakhstan’s Neimat Asadov. Zadeh crashed out of the World Championships under controversial circumstances due to a contested submission while fending off an arm-bar against Luxembourg’s Jose Teixeira. Now a professional up-and-comer Zadeh moves to 3-0, remaining undefeated with superior grappling seeing him through to a unanimous decision win.

Jonny Touma spent two years as an exciting fixture of the Swedish national team under the IMMAF banner as a multiple-time World Championships contender and bronze medallist of the 2018 European Open. Touma’s enthusiasm for high-octane striking was on display, landing double spinning-back-fists to rock Moheb Azizi. While Azizi remained highly game and in the fight, the dynamic action continued to play out with Touma progressing to clinch a unanimous decision triumph.

Team Sweden vet Elin Öberg had a short tenure at the IMMAF level before turning pro, yet we would have loved to see more of her. A split-decision loss to Finland’s Janika Antinmaa at the 2018 European Open was Öberg’s first and only appearance, and she has since transitioned to become a destroyer of top prospects, making her pro debut in 2018 with a 6-second KO of former IMMAF world champion Anna Astvik and later with a doctor stoppage over perennial IMMAF medallist Anette Österberg. Öberg bounced back in fine form from a first professional loss as she stormed through a war to powerfully out-strike the very noteworthy Malin Hermansson.

Former European Open finalist and world bronze medallist Issa Isakov was a long-standing top contender of the international IMMAF platform, representing Belgium with over 15 amateur victories. His success continues now as a 6-1 professional with a unanimous decision win over experienced Dutchman Djamil Chan (15-7).

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The tale of IMMAF & WMMAA: How two global MMA federations merged to create a super organisation https://immaf.org/2020/08/05/the-tale-of-immaf-wmmaa-how-two-global-mma-federations-merged-to-create-a-super-organisation/ Wed, 05 Aug 2020 06:29:25 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40149

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The international governance of combat sports and martial arts is well renowned for its internal rifts and divisions. Take the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) as examples in pro boxing. Meanwhile, the World Anti-doping Agency recognises three Code Signatory International Federations for the sport of Taekwondo, and various bodies lay claim to overseeing Muay Thai and kickboxing.


So when in June 2017, world umbrella sports body, the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF) instructed ‘rival’ applicants for the sport recognition of MMA that they must cooperate, since only one application could be considered, the odds of success were high.


The Swedish founded International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and Monaco based, World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) were both established in 2012 with an Olympic vision and equally claimed the right to be deemed the international authority for amateur MMA. Perhaps it was their newness or their evolution from a sport that within a couple of decades of existence had become the world’s fastest growing that made them so dynamic, because what happened next could not have been anticipated.


In May 2018, IMMAF and WMMAA signed a legally binding affiliation MOU, approved by both memberships. By the close of November 2018 they had completed a fully executed agreement, as well as a first unified world championships with 52 participating countries that would create a new world order in the rankings of amateur MMA. Following a time-lag to allow for the necessary, democratically approved changes to the IMMAF statutes, IMMAF’s 2019 General Assembly saw the IMMAF board expand to accept elected representatives from WMMAA, with WMMAA President Vadim Finkelchtein joining IMMAF founder August Wallen as Honorary President.


However, these rapid-fire achievements weren’t the most impressive. Not only did the merger require that of two international boards and administration teams, but it also needed to be mapped out across around 100 member nations, a number of whom had counterpart IMMAF and WMMAA national federations.

So how did the IMMAF and WMMAA executives achieve this? immaf.org spoke with former WMMAA Executive Director turned IMMAF Board Director, Tatiana Klimenko, who worked on the national level coordination of the amalgamation.

The main challenge was presented by countries in which both WMMAA and IMMAF each had an active representative organisation. Where this was the case, first consideration was necessarily given to the federation which had government or National Olympic Committee recognition. The non-recognised party was encouraged to join with the mandated organisation. Meanwhile, inactive federations were cut, as were bad players.


For example, in one case IMMAF had received complaints about national federation’s association with right wing extremism and hooliganism. The allegations were never satisfactorily refuted by the organisation in question, and this was taken into account in deciding against them in selecting the best representative in that country to lead the sport, alongside their recognition status.


Where such clarity did not exist, federations were encouraged to merge and, according to Tatiana, this worked well where both sides “put their athletes and the interests of the sport first, over and above power struggles.”


There were successful national level mergers in countries that include Romania, Kazakhstan and India.


“In these countries, national federations were strengthened by coming together, bringing different assets, skill sets and relationships to the table. They increased their membership and deepened their competition pool.”


According to Tatiana, only a surprisingly small handful of disputes emerged that were unresolvable or situations in which merged groups came apart – five or less. In these instances, where IMMAF | WMMAA was forced choose a side, the unified administration evaluated not just the national federation’s administrative compliance to GASIF criteria, but equally took into account the roots and comparative strengths of the federations, their scope of influence within the sport and their business capabilities.


“In all, there was a total of around three organisations of value, largely in terms of their professional MMA or commercial experience, that we were unable to carry with us, which is unfortunate. However, due to the in depth process through which we worked closely with national federations and the many interviews we conducted, I can attest without a doubt that each of the federations we retained are the strongest in their country, whether in terms of good governance process, having some kind of formal recognition or carrying out all the administrative duties of a federation. Some of these remain small due to the political and legal landscape there or because the sport is still young there, but they are certainly the right ones to grow the sport in the interests of the amateur participant and according to the values of International Sport.”


“However, the doors remain open those organisations we lost. We appreciate that the speed with which IMMAF and WMMAA moved with the merger created a difficult situation for some. At any time, we are committed to working to facilitate fresh dialogues between them and our national federation in their country to find a workable solution for a cooperation.”


IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, who was also closely involved in the national merger process alongside WMMAA President Vadim Finkelchtein, commented:


“I’m extremely proud of what we managed to achieve in uniting two such strong entities. I am thankful to Vadim, Tatiana and the WMMAA Board for their cooperation, and equally to IMMAF founders August Wallen, Vice-President George Sallfeldt and the IMMAF board. The WMMAA board directors and administrative staff who have joined us are by now very much part of the IMMAF international family, bringing enhanced expertise and experience to the team. I am confident too that in all our territories, IMMAF has the strongest national representative. Where National Federations successfully merged they have likewise been strengthened as a result. The process also enabled us to weed out non-performing ‘paper’ federations and those failing to meet good governance standards for amateur sport. The results of our merger with WMMAA are demonstrable through the increased engagement and participation of our federations that has really propelled us forward as a super organisation. With hindsight, I can say I am grateful to GAISF for their recommendation that we unite as it has only made us better as an organisation and reinforced our ability to meet our duties as an international governing body.”

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IMMAF Champions shine in weekend of Pro action https://immaf.org/2020/08/03/immaf-champions-shine-in-weekend-of-pro-action/ Mon, 03 Aug 2020 16:46:17 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40147

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Five past champions of IMMAF were in action over the weekend, the standout veterans of amateur MMA’s elite platform secured a clean sweep of victories now as professionals.

Memorable alumni of Sweden’s national amateur team took over the card of BRAVE CF 37 in Stockholm, Sweden. Two-time IMMAF heavyweight world champion Irman Smajic smothered rival Fatih Aktas to extend his undefeated pro tenure via a unanimous decision. In addition, 2017 European Open gold medallist Anton Turkalj claimed an early TKO win as he moves to 5-0 as a professional and Sweden’s potential successor to Alexander Gustafsson at 205lbs. After winning gold medals for Sweden at the 2019 IMMAF World Championships and 2020 Oceania Open, strawweight Bianca Antman scored the highlight of the night with a stunning headkick KO to seal victory in her professional debut.

The BRAVE 37 “people’s main event” saw Muhammad Mokaev, the world’s most talked about amateur prospect, complete his pro debut in dominant fashion by nullifying Irishman Glenn McVeigh across all three rounds of their heated grudge match. As a 23-0 amateur champion Mokaev collected several promotional titles of the UK MMA scene before stepping up to the IMMAF platform, representing Team UK and later Team England. Mokaev became the no.1 ranked junior athlete as a two-time IMMAF World Championships gold medallist at bantamweight with further gold medals won at the European Open and Oceania Open.

Also on the card, IMMAF World and European silver medallist Nina Back came up short in a fight-of-the-night contender. Featuring on the amateur prelims, Back faced off against professional K-1 standout Josefine Lindgren Knutsson, who made her amateur MMA debut.

On the other side of the globe, 2017 IMMAF world champion Manon Fiorot featured at UAE Warriors 12 on July 31 in Abu Dhabi. The former national karate champion and French MMA team graduate is now riding a 5-fight win streak after a TKO stoppage over Canadian rival Corinne Laframboise.

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Getting to know IMMAF President Kerrith Brown: An Interview – Part 1 https://immaf.org/2020/07/27/getting-to-know-immaf-president-kerrith-brown-an-interview-part-1/ Mon, 27 Jul 2020 17:24:57 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40130

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“My lack of education about prohibited substances led me to make a mistake that cost me heavily and is without a doubt, one of the biggest regrets of my life. In Anti-doping as with the law, ignorance is not a defence. It certainly serves as a cautionary tale.”


IMMAF President Brown has travelled a path of dramatic highs and lows, reaching the Olympian podium as an athlete to suffer a doping ban that would change the course of his life. Here the IMMAF President talks candidly about his experiences, what he has learnt in life, how this has shaped the person he is today and how it informs him as IMMAF President.

Roots
Kerrith was born in 1962 in the United Kingdom, in the Midlands city of Wolverhampton, not long after his mother arrived from Jamaica to join his grandmother who had immigrated a year or two earlier. He never met his father, and with two half-brothers not to follow for another ten and twenty years respectively, he describes “quite a good upbringing at that point being the only child” at a “normal infant school in a modest area,” though he talks of “coming from a single parent background, having to build your own circle.”


School
Aged 11, Kerrith entered Springfield Comprehensive Boys School (later Heath Park) having moved to a new area the “other side of town.”

“Secondary school was an eye opener….going into a boys’ school, which was just coming out of being probably the worst school in the area and starting to modernise itself.

“That’s when all the bullying started. It was an alpha male survival environment.”

Kerrith vividly recalls his first impression as “seeing this guy come from nowhere and drop this kid with a double foot kick.”

Aspirations at the school weren’t high: You would “leave school, get an apprenticeship, get a job. That was the path of the norm you would be led down.”

Discovering Judo & Meeting IMMAF CEO Densign White
Judo was offered by Springfield as two 45-minute sessions per week, and Kerrith signed up aged 12, “in order to look after myself, because I was not looking after myself so well. It was about protection rather than about the sport.”

“And it did work. Word goes around. As soon as the kids realised you’re doing a combat sport, they give more respect and leave you alone. Judo and karate were like the dark arts because of the Bruce Lee films at the time.”

IMMAF‘s CEO Densign White, who was in a different class at the same school, also attended the judo sessions, which is where the two first met sparking a lifelong friendship. From there, both were motivated to join their local club.

Judo brought Kerrith “stability, family and like-minded people with similar goals.” It stopped “us from getting into mischief because we were focussed on training rather than going out. I was lucky to drop into that block (of peers) in terms of development and I didn’t know anything else.”

Making the Olympic Squad
Kerrith was inspired by “a Guinness Book of Records or Martial Arts book my mum had bought me for Christmas, and in there was Brian Jacks, who was my hero. He had just got back from the Munich Games (1972), I think. I remember looking at the Olympic Games thinking it would be great if I could emulate that and it was always at the back of my mind.”

At the same time, Kerrith and Densign’s club coach identified they “had something” and he channelled their energies towards making the England squad.

By the time of the 1984 Games, aged 22, Kerrith recalls he’d “been number 1 consistently for 5 years (nationally), was Junior European Champion and was in the top world rankings.”

“Being accepted as number 1 in your country and then to represent in the Olympic Games, you’re on top of the world. It was a dream come true.”

1984 Olympics – Overcoming Injury for Bronze
Then, injury struck.

“I got a cruciate ligament injury 7-months out from the Games. Someone bounced on the back of my knee and it popped.”

Kerrith underwent one of the first key-hole surgeries in London’s Harley Street in 1983, to return to training in March, just 4 months before the Games, and unable to bend his knee until weeks before.

“I didn’t actually start dropping on my knee until I got to the Games. That’s how bad it was. But my focus had been more on rehab than the event and on getting fit. By the time got there, I was quite relaxed.”

Kerrith prevailed to the semi-finals in the men’s lightweight division to lose by a frustrating split decision but went onto fight the then world number 1 and win a bronze medal for Great Britain. Meanwhile, Densign placed fifth in his division.

1988 Olympics
The 1988 Olympics initially presented as a “similar story,” sighs Kerrith, rolling his eyes.

Having maintained his number 1 ranking nationally and ranked among the worlds best, he had just been selected again for the national squad when he suffered another knee injury requiring a second key-hole surgery, but this time to the anterior cruciate ligament of his opposite knee.

When Kerrith arrived in Seoul for the games, he was just beginning to fully bend his knee. Nonetheless, “I was among one of the favourites.”

Kerrith recounts a strong draw. Going into the Semi-Finals, he was facing an opponent he had beaten months previously and who should have presented a certain win. However, to his continued regret, he “got cocky and over-confident and blew it,” erring from his game plan “to throw his opponent with an explosive move and throwing myself instead.”

To compete for the bronze medal, he had to then face world number one, Michael Swain of USA, whom he defeated to make the podium.

“Then…” says Kerrith, referring to the infamous drug scandals that overshadowed the 1988 Games, “the whole world kicked off.”

Doping Scandal
For context, it is worth taking a broader view of anti-doping at the time: Unlike today, International Federations operated by their own prohibited lists and managed their own rules and testing. In 1985, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) added diuretics to their in-competition prohibited list, to be applied at the next Olympic Games. This change was adopted by some but not all sports. Significantly, International Federations were also responsible for the education of their athletes, relying upon their medical support staff to inform and reinforce rules.

Kerrith feels that the change in Anti-Doping Regulations before the Games had been poorly communicated to athletes. He realised too late that the A4 list of banned substances they had been given included a substance that would impact his eligibility to compete.

“Going to our team doctor was the only policy or source of information, so there was a lack knowledge compared with nowadays.”

At the Opening Ceremony, it is told, that when the symbolic doves were released, they were scorched by the Olympic flame. And so, the Seoul Games went on to be dubbed one of the most controversial in Olympic history.

Officiating controversies gave rise to an escalating scandal in boxing. Then, the fastest man in the world, Ben Johnson, famously got caught for anabolic steroids use following a superhuman victory, and quickly became the centre story. British sprinter, Linford Christie, was found positive for the performance-enhancing pseudoephedrine in the same event, and Kerrith was tested among a wider testing of finalists.

To his detriment, Kerrith had been advised to take a diuretic, furosemide, to reduce his knee swelling during the flight over. The substance was commonly used at the time for reducing swelling of joints or muscles and for water retention in weight-cutting.

Two days after being tested, Kerrith received a call to inform him that his sample had returned positive, and he was called to a tribunal scheduled just a few days later, alongside British peer Linford Christie.

Looking back, he believes the shock of the biggest scandal the sporting world had seen, in the revelation that the winner of the Men’s 100m had tested positive, followed by the additional positive finding for third placed GB sprinter Linford Christie, diverted attention away from proper investigation of his case. Amidst the media attention on Ben Johnson and further shockwave of a second finding that might impact the medals awarded in the 100m, the report that a judo athlete had also returned a finding was swiftly processed. British team officials focussed on damage limitation, Kerrith feels, to his disadvantage:

“A deal had already been done in the room that one of us was going to take the fall. Linford had come 3rd in the 100m, with potential to be awarded silver following the suspension of Johnson. Also, Great Britain had come 3rd in the 4 x 100 relay in which the US Team had dropped the baton leading to their disqualification, and so there was a gold medal opportunity for them also. British Athletics was the most powerful sport federation in the UK at the time, and as I see it, we were up against them.”

Kerrith reports that British Athletics “brought over a guy from US doping who was doing a thesis on ginseng and they presented evidence that Linford was suffering from a cold.”

“I remember quite clearly us being an hour late for the hearing as we were waiting at the hotel with Linford for the ginseng vials to be delivered – which they were, in a black bag.”

“On the other hand, I don’t feel we had any support. My sole representatives were my coach, team manager and the then British Judo Chairman. We had no legal representation.”

“I was unaware of the politics at the time,” says Brown, “but have learnt with hindsight about the international corridor (of power). We didn’t really know about appeals and there was no recourse that we knew of.”

Speaking with various old-time insiders, their own views support Brown’s verdict but nonetheless the stigma has been hard to shake.

Aftermath
“ I was devastated. I didn’t know where to go. There was no support mechanism from the organisation. From the moment I was found guilty of doping, I was shoved into a taxi to the airport on my own.”

On his “own initiative” he called friends to collect him from the airport, as press were waiting at his front door. He asked the flight attendant to provide a back exit from the airport to avoid the fray.

“They were camping outside my house, in the bins. I couldn’t go home for two weeks. I went to a mate’s house until it all died down.”

From being funded as part of the national team, Kerrith now faced a two-year ban on competing with all finance cut.

“I carried on training but couldn’t compete and that finished my career. I tried to make a comeback in 1992, after starting to compete again in 1990.”

However, although ranked again at number one hitherto, he failed the national selections for the 1992 Olympics and, also, to medal at the European Championships, which would have provided an alternative route back. At that point, Kerrith knew his athletic career was over and retired.

“My lack of education about prohibited substances led me to make a mistake that cost me heavily and is without a doubt, one of the biggest regrets of my life. In Anti-doping as with the law, ignorance is not a defence. It certainly serves as a cautionary tale.”

Getting Back Up Again & Business Years
Following his dramatic fall from grace in 1988, Brown’s sharp business acumen developed as a means to survive thereafter.

“It was a challenging transition… the time you spend training full time doesn’t give you time to develop life skills for anything else. But then I was lucky and being in the right place at the right time was an important factor in the some of the choices I made.”

Kerrith cites his support network as critical at that time, “having the right people around you. Family network and good set of friends was part and parcel” of being able to move on.

He’d previously worked as a mechanic and freelance electrician, while teaching judo in schools, and he now owned a gym with Densign. From there, he found opportunities in Wolverhampton’s burgeoning nightclub scene as rave was taking off in the UK during the 1990s.

“We were among the pioneers of the house music and drum ‘n’ bass (dance music) scenes that were evolving in the Midlands and that put us at the cutting edge.”

Hosting legendary names such as Fantasia, Quest, Helter Skelter and Amazon as a club owner, Kerrith profited from successful club nights and ventured for the first time into live logistics for two Glastonbury festivals and for a forerunner of V-festival.

“This is why I say live events are part of my DNA….and this experience of being at the cutting edge enables us to push the (IMMAF) team to be better and cutting edge.”

He continued to successfully establish himself in fashion retail through the Diffusion chain, with flagship stores formerly in London’s Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and Covent Garden, of which he remains a partner to this day.

Life Lessons
Ultimately, “the things that worked against me, actually worked for me. If I’d won a gold medal at the Games, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I was forced down another avenue and that created other opportunities.”

“The set-backs you experience in sport teach you. The knock back I had in 1988 was a major set-back most people would never have in a lifetime, and having to deal with that mentally. Learning from that at an early age makes you prepared for anything and learn how to keep moving forwards. Not having a support mechanism enables you to think outside the box more deeply than most people, at the drop of a hat. Having those experiences of training full time and then overcoming those injuries too was challenging and forced me to dig deep.”

Kerrith believes surviving such highs and lows in sport gave him the tools to take on the same highs and lows that are inherent in business. Martial Arts values provide a framework for navigating life’s twists and turns.

“If I’d won an Olympic gold medal, I might have thought to be a coach for the rest of my life. Not winning that spurs me on to want more.”

Asked how what he has learned impacts his role as an International Sports Federation President, Kerrith concludes:

“It is because of my own experience that I am so passionate about Anti-doping education for athletes and at IMMAF it is high on our agenda. Since I joined the organisation, we have hired Anti-doping expert and Commonwealth Games Medical Secretary, Michele Verroken, to implement anti-doping education for IMMAF athletes and coaches as well as our testing programme. It is through her that we recently partnered with the WADA ADeL platform and are actively encouraging national federations to do the online courses. We also recently bolstered our committees with a dedicated Anti-doping Disciplinary Commission and Ethics Commission to support the work of our Anti-Doping and Medical Committees and ensure fairness and impartiality. Our experiences as athletes have shaped mine and Densign’s outlook in all areas of governing the sport and putting athlete and participant welfare first lies at the heart of everything we do.”

Michele, who previously ran the UK’s Ethics and Anti-Doping Directorate at UK Sport was, at the time of Kerrith’s doping offence, Head of the newly formed Doping Control Unit at The Sports Council, battling with sports bodies to take a more responsible approach to anti-doping.

In partnering with IMMAF, she has asserted her confidence that its senior executives fully understand the importance of educating athletes about anti-doping, its rules, its obligations and above all the management of illness and injuries without risking a doping violation:

“Education first! No one should be without access to education. IMMAF has adopted a zero-tolerance policy to cheating by doping, and therefore, it is essential that athletes, coaches and medics know their responsibility to keep the sport safe and fair.

“Mistakes happen and what is important is how you respond. From Kerrith’s experience of how important anti-doping is, IMMAF has committed to achieve WADA (World Anti-doping Agency) Code signatory status and to ensure that lessons are learned.”
Next, in PART 2, read all about Kerrith’s sports administration and MMA years.

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WANTED: Volunteers for IMMAF Sustainability Taskforce https://immaf.org/2020/07/24/wanted-volunteers-for-immaf-sustainability-taskforce/ Fri, 24 Jul 2020 06:40:33 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40119

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IMMAF is offering the opportunity for those passionate about the environment and sustainable futures to audit and provide policy recommendations for the responsible, sustainable organisation of MMA competitions.

The legacy project will form the basis for future sustainable development projects and opportunities at IMMAF, in an area of growing significance both in and outside of sport. Participants can expect to gain valuable experience and access to consultancy from IMMAF’s world-leading expert committee and commission members.

  • Volunteers (3) to participate in the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s new Sustainability Taskforce
  • The purpose of the Taskforce is to, in collaboration with the IMMAF Events Team, conduct a Sustainability Review and develop a Sustainability Recommendations, based on the UN’s 17 Sustainability Development Goals, for implementation in the organisation of IMMAF Competitions in 2021
  • Timeframe: 6 -week project commencing 31 August. All meetings will be held online
  • Applicants should ideally have proven policy development experience in and a passion for environmental matters (for indoor sport events)

For enquiries or to apply, please email your CV to alistair.pettitt@immaf.org

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IMMAF certified judges in UFC debut at Fight Island https://immaf.org/2020/07/16/immaf-certified-judges-in-ufc-debut-at-fight-island/ Thu, 16 Jul 2020 12:17:46 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40099

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International Mixed Martial Arts Federation judges, Vito Paolillo (Italy) and Clemens Werner (Germany), have made their officiating debut with the premier, professional MMA league of UFC for the current series of historic events taking place at UFC Fight Island.

“Due to the coronavirus, we have had to go through two forty-eight-hour quarantines and several COVID tests. The UFC is setting the highest standards in the MMA world by providing a safe environment for MMA contests,” commented Werner.

Under the tutelage of world-renowned referee and IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Goddard, the two IMMAF alumni have honed their knowledge and experience through the international governing body’s progression pathway for officials since 2015.

Having certified on IMMAF Judges and Referees Courses, Werner has gone on to judge 1500 bouts while Paolillo says he has lost count! The IMMAF World Championships famously features more than 500 matches in 5 days, attended by up to 100 IMMAF licensed officials. To be eligible to work at IMMAF Championships, officials must continue to renew their licenses through ongoing professional education.

Clemens Werner commented:

“I am grateful to be one of a few officials to work at these historical Fight Island events. At the current time with the corona restrictions inhibiting most of national and international shows, it is a privilege to be able to follow my passion to judge, and better than that, to judge four UFC shows within three weeks.

“IMMAF paved the way for my development as an official. In addition to what I learnt on the IMMAF Officials Course with Marc Goddard, the experience that I have gained through nine IMMAF championships around the world has been invaluable. The challenges of a whole week of judging at IMMAF Championships has provided great preparation for professional shows. My biggest thanks goes to Marc Goddard, the IMMAF lead official, for his leadership, friendship and the opportunities he offers me.”

Vito Paolillo said:

“Being part of this historic event has been a great honour for me and a dream come true in my career as MMA Official. The treatment we are receiving is something unprecedented. The organisational level is outstanding, and you can really see why the UFC is the only organization in the world to be able to pull this off, not only among MMA promotions, but across sport.”

“It being my first experience as a Judge in the UFC, my colleagues here, who are among the world’s best MMA Officials, have asked if I am feeling pressure at this level. But thanks to my five years of IMMAF experience, I don’t feel anxiety. IMMAF has provided the best training for anyone wanting to work in professional MMA, starting with the course through to a series of events that lets you accumulate in a year the experience that most people take a lifetime to achieve, through IMMAF’s five-day tournament format that sees up to one hundred fights in one day.

“The IMMAF platform has proved the best way to be noticed and receive calls from top professional promotions, such as Brave FC, FightNight Global and KSW, culminating in my UFC selection.

“I want to thank UFC, Marc Goddard and IMMAF for this opportunity and I feel really blessed to be a part of UFC Fight Island.”

Marc Goddard said:

“I’m so happy that both Vito’s and Clemens’ hard work, dedication and portrayal of the qualities required to be an official have been recognised on the biggest stage and this opportunity granted. They have both worked diligently, taking advantage of all the opportunities presented to them over a number of years both at IMMAF and with me across many professional events throughout Europe, the Middle East and beyond. I am proud to see their journey along IMMAF’s educational pathway for officials culminate on the world’s biggest MMA stage, and for these guys it’s just the beginning of the next stage of their officiating careers.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“It’s great to see the effectiveness of the IMMAF Officials Pathway recognised by top tier professional MMA promotions, with all the added pressure on officiating that comes with their extensive fan and media reach and commercial interests. I am proud to see Vito and Clemens representing their national federations, FIGMMA and GEMMAF, not just in the elite amateur league, but also now at elite professional level.”

For enquiries about IMMAF Judges and Referees Certification Courses contact info@immaf.org

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IMMAF launches ‘Peace through MMA’ commission https://immaf.org/2020/07/15/immaf-launches-peace-through-mma-commission/ Wed, 15 Jul 2020 06:22:40 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40097

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has launched a “Peace through MMA” Commission as part of its commitment to harnessing sport to mitigate violence and engender peace, with a focus on developing programmes to socially benefit young people.

President Kerrith Brown said:

“MMA is a universal language recognised by youth worldwide, with the power to break boundaries and to unite. As I have experienced in my own journey, martial arts require personal transformation, the development of self-knowledge, self-discipline, honour and respect. The process of training to fight within a sport is an effective pathway to learning the skills of negotiation and to attaining peace. It is our responsibility as leaders in the sport to channel the great power of martial arts towards social good.”

The committee is chaired by Danny Corr of the Ulster Amateur MMA Association. Corr is acclaimed for his Fight to Unite youth project in Northern Ireland, in a region that has seen in the past many social and economic problems as a result of conflict. The government recognised project has proven the success of a focused and sustainable programme that combines the many benefits of MMA with education, personal development and youth work. The programme tackles issues affecting young people and helps to build resilience and a positive future for young people and their communities.

Corr is joined on the Commission by Denis Rowan, best known as an expert in International Conflict Resolution with extensive work in the Northern Ireland Peace and Political Process. Denis has a vast experience in organising youth projects for social and educational furtherance and for the advancement of peace.

Corr and Rowan are currently working with the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association in the Republic to organise a cross-border youth peace project aligned with a nationally recognised educational programme.

The Peace through MMA Commission is building on this work to develop a blueprint, consultancy and training support for the implementation of similar, tailored programmes for IMMAF’s other National Federations around the world.

Corr said:

“I am honoured to be Chairing this exciting Commission. Our sport and the passion with which IMMAF has developed worldwide has seen untold success; but we have so much more to offer communities and countries worldwide. A tailored structured approach to developing projects can bring massive benefits to our young people and especially in times like these, can help the long term sustainability of organisations and clubs.”

Demonstrating just how important youth development and the cause for peace are to IMMAF, the commission also includes President Kerrith Brown and CEO Densign White, who has a long track record of working with social projects in sport, particularly through his role as Chairman of British Charity, Sporting Equals.

Administrators to the commission are IMMAF Brand & Communications Director, Izzy Carnwath, and Member Development Consultant, Jorden Curran, whose role at IMMAF includes supporting National Federations with their projects related to community intervention, social health and wellbeing.

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IMMAF has registered with the WADA ADeL platform to boost its education of MMA participants https://immaf.org/2020/07/13/immaf-has-registered-with-the-wada-adel-platform-to-boost-its-education-of-mma-participants/ Mon, 13 Jul 2020 13:41:34 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40089

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has successfully registered with WADA ADeL, the anti-doping e-learning platform (ADeL) offering access to all topics related to clean sport and anti-doping.

Through access to the platform, IMMAF can now offer its membership enhanced courses and resources for MMA’s athletes, coaches, doctors, administrators and other participants interested in learning more about anti-doping and protecting the values of clean sport.

Over 100 IMMAF coaches were certified through WADA e-courses over the weekend.

The world governing body for MMA has implemented a comprehensive drug-testing programme at its Championships since 2015, under the leadership of expert consultant Michele Verroken of Sporting Integrity, as well as ongoing anti-doping education. IMMAF has issued 9 suspensions to date.

The organisation recently announced its bolstered Anti-doping Committee and a new dedicated, Anti-doping Disciplinary Committee to strengthen its drive for a drug-free sport in amateur MMA.
 
IMMAF Anti-Doping Chair Michele Verroken commented:
“This partnership with WADA allows IMMAF to offer educational courses across the globe to our athletes, coaches, parents and medical personnel.  This is a fantastic opportunity to drive up anti-doping knowledge which in turn should lead to more informed decision making about the risks of doping, how to avoid a doping violation and how to help promote the Clean MMA message.  Testing is one way to address the problem of doping, but it is limited in its impact.  Education is far more significant and ADeL allows us to extend our support for IMMAF members to protect the values of clean sport. We look forward to engaging all our members with ADeL as evidence of our commitment to doping-free sport.”
 
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:
“Access to the WADA ADeL resource enhances IMMAF’s educational offering to members around doping in sport. I am proud of the enthusiastic take-up by our member coaches. In contact sport, fairness in competition critically impacts on the safety also of the opponent and this is well understood by IMMAF’s members who uphold the Olympic and martial arts values of respect, friendship and excellence.”

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IMMAF CEO joins new SIGA Diversity & Inclusion task force https://immaf.org/2020/07/10/immaf-ceo-joins-new-siga-diversity-inclusion-task-force/ Fri, 10 Jul 2020 09:23:23 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40086

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[Press Release via SIGA. London, 7 July 2020] 

Following the successful SIGA-Soccerex Webinar on the topic, “Football For All,” the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) has established a new Task Force dedicated to Race, Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion in order to press meaningful reform.
 
Conceived as part of the #SIGAccelerator initiative, this Task Force is composed of the following members:

  • Brian Lewis, President of the Trinidad and Tobago National Olympic Committee (TTOC), Chair of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committee (CANOC) and Member of the SIGA Council (Chair);
  • Affy Sheikh, Head of Starlizard Integrity Services and SIGA Member;
  • Angela Melo, SIGA Council Member;
  • Densign White, CEO of International Mixed Martial Arts (IMMAF) and Member of the SIGA Council;
  • Paul Elliot, Member of The FA Inclusion Advisory Board, former professional football play;
  • Ju’Riese Colόn, Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Center for SafeSport;
  • Katie Simmonds, General Counsel & Senior Director, Global Partnerships, SIGA;
  • Karin Korb, Wheelchair Tennis, 2-time Paralympic and 10-time member of USA World Team & SIGA Champion;
  • Stacey Copeland, First British Woman to win the Commonwealth Title for Boxing and SIGA Champion; and
  • Pavel Klymenko, Head of Policy at FARE Network (Football Against Racism in Europe).

The Task Force’s mandate is to develop and propose a series of recommendations aimed at promoting the highest standards on race, gender, diversity, and inclusion in sport. These recommendations shall be submitted to the SIGA Council for approval by the end of August 2020 with a public announcement to be made during the SIGA Sport Integrity Week (Monday 7th September 2020), during a virtual Media Conference.
 
On the creation of the Task Force, Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of SIGA and Chairman & CEO of SIGA AMERICA, commented:
 
“Zero-Tolerance is SIGA’s stance against racism and any form of discrimination and social exclusion. They have no room in any society that considers itself decent and just. And the same applies to Sport.
 
The public demonstrations that are happening everywhere are serious and constitute a powerful and timely reminder that a lot more needs to be done to bring about the much-needed cultural changes. The SIGA Task Force “Sport for All” that we are now announcing is a decisive step towards that goal. On behalf of SIGA, I thank all leaders who have responded to our call for action and volunteered to serve on this task force, and will now be working on a set of recommendations on race, gender, diversity and inclusion in sport, to made public within two months, during the Sport Integrity Week.”

 
On his role as Chair of the Task Force, Brian Lewis, President of the Trinidad and Tobago National Olympic Committee (TTOC), Chair of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committee (CANOC) and Member of the SIGA Council, said:
 
“There is a Yoruba proverb that says don’t be afraid to look at your faults. When we acknowledge our errors and face up to our shortcomings, no one can use them against us. On the issue of racism and racial discrimination and inequalities in sport. It is our duty, responsibility, and obligation to create positive change. 
 
Nelson Mandela said sport has the power to change the world while Mahatma Gandhi said be the change we want to see. We have to root out and eliminate all forms of discrimination in sport. More specifically systemic racism and racial discrimination and inequalities is a reality for too many involved in sport where the colour of your skin matters more than your character. This is unacceptable and now is the time to do something about it. We cannot continue to ignore and deny the problem.”

 
Densign White, CEO of International Mixed Martial Arts (IMMAF) and Member of the SIGA Council, said:
 
“When it comes to gender and racial equality, international sport is lagging behind. The recent Black Lives Matter protests have shone a spotlight on institutional discrimination and provided a catalyst for organisations across many sectors to look inwards and start implementing change. I am proud that SIGA, once again, is leading the charge in sport and I am honoured to have been invited onto this Task Force.” 
 
About inclusivity, Stacey Copeland, First British Woman to win the Commonwealth Title for Boxing and SIGA Champion, said:
 
“Sport is one of the most powerful things on the planet for bringing about positive change, this is why it is so important for sport to be inclusive. As a SIGA champion I am excited to be part of the task force to use our platforms and passion for sport to really make a difference.”
 
Karin Korb, Wheelchair Tennis, 2-time Paralympic and 10-time member of USA World Team & SIGA Champion, said:
 
“Working with leaders whose foundational common denominator is equity will move our work in an exponentially significant way.  While disabled people are often thought of as a monolith, I am looking forward to collaboratively furthering the work of SIGA as a member of the Race, Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion task force. I am excited to bring forward the continued and intentional inclusion of the diverse and intersectional framework of disability in our sport equity narrative.” 
 
Affy Sheikh, Head of Starlizard Integrity Services and SIGA Member, said:
 
“Inclusion is an absolutely vital tenet of sport – without it, its integrity will always be called into question. I am therefore delighted to see a strong commitment from SIGA towards eliminating any kind of discrimination in this area. We should all want to see fairness in sport and that means we have to set ourselves high standards in this regard.”

ABOUT SIGA
 
SIGA is the world´s largest coalition in the field of sports governance and integrity. Supported by more than 100 international multi-industry supporters, SIGA is an independent and neutral organisation whose mission is to bring about meaningful reforms and enhance the integrity of all sports through a set of universal standards operated by an independent and neutral body. SIGA is the only organisation to bring together sport, governments, academia, international organisations, sponsors, business, rights holders, NGOs and professional services companies, from every region in the world, around a common cause of fostering greater integrity throughout sport. Click on the hyperlinks for the list of SIGA Members and Committed Supporters and SIGA Partners.
 
For more information on SIGA, including its vision, mission and reform agenda, please refer to the website: www.siga-sport.com
 
To contact SIGA, please email: comms@siga-sport.com.
 
Find SIGA on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SIGAlliance, Instagram at sigalliance and LinkedIN at https://www.linkedin.com/company/sigalliance/.

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Independent Financial Audit Commission given greater role in IMMAF https://immaf.org/2020/07/10/independent-financial-audit-commission-given-greater-role-in-immaf/ Fri, 10 Jul 2020 09:10:22 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40084

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The International Association of Mixed Martial Arts is underlining its commitment to the principles of good governance by giving the Financial Audit Committee a greater oversight role in its operations.

IMMAF CEO Densign White said: “There have been plenty of horror stories in recent years about serious financial mismanagement by International Federations and we are determined that IMMAF will adopt the highest possible standards of fiscal propriety. The Audit Committee is fully independent and will audit the financial activities of IMMAF and provide oversight of financial matters including upcoming commercial activities.”

The seriousness of the mission can be seen in the appointment of Denis Rowan as Committee Chair. Although a certified accountant by training, Denis is now best known as an expert in International Conflict Resolution with extensive work in the Northern Ireland Peace and Political Process. Denis’ wide-ranging experience across sectors and international experience in the USA and Japan, made him an ideal leader for IMMAF.

“I was delighted to be invited to be Chair of IMMAF’s Financial Audit Committee,” said Denis. “Having discussed the position with Densign White, I was pleased to see that IMMAF understands the value of accountability but also the gains for them in having solid governance arrangements which increases efficiency to the organisation and contributes to growth.”

IMMAF’s Financial Audit Committee members are Svetlana Odintsova (NED) and Dr. Luigi Perillo (ITA). Both have extensive career experience in high level corporate finance but also have key roles in MMA promotions and governance across both the amateur and professional scenes. Mr Perillo has a 25 year background in MMA and is now the President of the Swiss MMA Federation, while Ms Odintsova has extensive experience with both WMMA (now merged with IMMAF) and promotion, M1.

“Svetlana and Luigi blend expertise in finance and the entire sport of MMA, which is ideal”, said Denis. “The priorities going forward are to develop, implement and monitor robust and effective governance arrangements of the highest international standards. We will support IMMAF, the Board, management, and staff to achieve their organisational strategic goals.”

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IMMAF welcomes nationally recognised Zambian Federation with its focus on social change https://immaf.org/2020/07/08/immaf-welcomes-nationally-recognised-zambian-federation-with-its-focus-on-social-change/ Wed, 08 Jul 2020 14:07:58 +0000 https://immaf.org/?p=40082

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The Zambia Mixed Martial Arts Association (ZMMAA) makes a new addition to the IMMAF family from Africa.


The organisation represents the majority of practitioners in Zambia’s MMA community and aims to expand their opportunities through the establishment of a national amateur league and coaches’ education and certification.


ZMMAA President Benjamin Bush brings significant experience in sport development through his extended work in sport management, athlete development and social projects which use martial arts to help the underprivileged. This includes an ongoing programme in Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka, using MMA as a vehicle for engaging youth in self-development to engender social change.


Despite being a young federation, ZMMAA has set exceptional standards for the development of MMA and has achieved approval for the sport under the Zambia Martial Art Federation (ZAMAF) which sits under the National Sports Council of Zambia.


Membership to the ZMMAA concurs a wide range of benefits including access to seminars and clinics for technical training, refereeing and judging, cornering, event management, strength and conditioning, sports rehabilitation and sports psychology. The governing body provides judges, referees and sanctioning officials for competitions.


IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“I am proud that despite the challenges to sport posed by the epidemic in 2020, IMMAF continues to grow and to increase its global diversity. I have great personal confidence in President Bush as leader of the Zambia Mixed Martial Arts Federation, particularly in light of his social work through MMA, which expresses the core values of our sport and is a testimony to its capacity to engender peace and positive change.”

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IMMAF CEO Densign White nominated for Fighters Only World MMA Award https://immaf.org/2020/07/03/immaf-ceo-densign-white-nominated-for-fighters-only-world-mma-award/