U18s MMA World Championships Commences in Rome:

  • “This Championships presents a vision of the future.”

Two-hundred-and-fifty-three U18s competitors, aged 12 – 17, have arrived in Rome to compete in the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s historic first Youth MMA World Championships, which commenced this morning (3rd August 2019) at the PalaPellicone.

The two-day tournament plays host to twenty-five teams from the following nations: Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, U.S. and Wales.

Ellis Clement (aged 16) of Team Wales said:

“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to just get in there and have fun. I love MMA because I love meeting new people and learning new things. MMA’s changed my life because I used to be introverted and it’s made me socialise a lot more and boosted my confidence. I want to do it as job now because I love the adrenalin rush and I’m just addicted to the sport.”

Kiya O’Sullivan (aged 16 ) of Team Ireland said:

“I love MMA because I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I pretty much started boxing pads at my Dad’s gym from about the age of two, and then trained in judo and jiu jitsu. I don’t really enjoy school so much and I prefer doing more physical things. It’s good for keeping fit and knowing how protect yourself as well. I want to do this as a career.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown:

“The first Youth MMA World Championships puts a stake in the ground for the sport. MMA was born in inverse to other sports, starting at the professional level. Its huge popularity has seen children and young people joining MMA gyms globally but there has never been any structure or governance before. When we announced the Youth World Championships, we didn’t anticipate how many teams and youths would register, and have been surprised by the demand, which really indicates the depth of the sport at the U18s level. And these competitors are tomorrow’s elite stars. If MMA makes it into the 2028 Games, this is the generation that we would see on the Olympic platform. This Championships presents a vision of the future.”


The controversial sport of MMA has evolved as a reformation in martial arts over the last twenty-five years, starting out as a test of skill among elite professionals. Part of IMMAF’s mission has been to develop safe pathways from a grassroots level upwards, to cater for the phenomenal participant demand for education in the skills of sport, including from recreational participants, minors and their parents.


IMMAF has set a precedent among striking combat sports with its Youth MMA rule sets which bar head-strikes for under 18s. The rules see a modification of the world recognised Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts with respect to the physiological development of competitors across the following three age categories, as advised by IMMAF’s expert medical, coaching and regulatory committees:

• IMMAF Youth A 16-17s (U18)

• IMMAF Youth B 14-15s (U16)

• IMMAF Youth C 12-13s (U14)

Summary of Tournament Format, Rules and Categories: https://immaf.org/youth-mma-world-championships-rules-breakdown-per-category/ 

View the full Mixed Martial Arts Unified Rules for Youth Competition here


Regulatory Affairs Director Marc Goddard walks through the IMMAF – WMMAA Youth MMA rulesets for U18s competition: https://www.immaf.tv/en-int/playerpage/49302

Main photo: Team USA

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