IMMAF Partners with Peace and Sport

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

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

The objectives of the partnership are:

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

*Cooperation to improve living conditions for populations through MMA;

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown said:

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By lead writer: Jorden Curran

Tajikistan Amateur MMA Championship «Dushanbe Cup-2020»

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[via TAJMMAF press release]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMMAF Announces Further Cancellation & Postponement of 2020 Championships

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

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

IMMAF President Brown commented:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The post Rising Star Bagdat going for a historic hat trick of wins in Abu Dhabi appeared first on IMMAF.


By Michael Clifton

Bagdat Zhubanysh is counting down the days until the start of next week’s 2021 IMMAF World Championships. After a two-year absence, the reigning men’s strawweight champion will be aiming to remind everyone why he was voted Best Male Athlete at the 2020 World Amateur MMA Awards by becoming the first athlete in IMMAF history to capture three world titles.

Zhubanysh’s shot to fame in 2018, when he captured his first world title inside the Khalifa Sports City arena in Manama, Bahrain. A year later, the Kazakhstani returned to the Gulf State to capture his second world championship while extending his amateur record to 8-0.

Unfortunately, the emergence of Covid-19 saw the cancellation of effectively all IMMAF events in 2020, putting the 25-year-old’s dreams of a historic third world title on hold.

After a frustrating year, Zhubanysh was itching to compete and had penciled in last August’s European Open in Russia as the date of his return. After Russia, the plan was to defend his world title on home soil at the 2021 World Championships in Kazakhstan.

However, as we have all discovered over the past two years, life has a way of intruding on even the best-laid plans.

“My preparation for the European Championships had gone well, and then ten days before the competition, I injured my hand,” Zhubanysh says. “My coaches and I decided to skip the tournament, so I could fully recover and prepare for the World Championship, which was set to take place in November, only a few months after the European Championships.”

However, fate struck again, as rising Covid-19 cases in Kazakhstan saw the World Championship rescheduled and moved to Abu Dhabi. MMA has flourished in recent years in Kazakhstan, and the event would have been the first IMMAF tournament held in the Central Asian nation. The news hit Zhubanysh and his national teammates hard.

“It was disappointing for all of us (Team Kazakhstan) that the pandemic meant we could not host the World Championship in our own country,” Zhubanysh says. “But I try not to think about it and to instead focus on my preparation for the upcoming championship. Our team is determined. It doesn’t matter to us where the World Championship will take place. We are going for the gold.”

The delay in his return to action has only intensified Zhubanysh’s desire for success, and he is excited about the prospect of squaring off against a new crop of challengers to his throne.

“There are also positives from the pandemic. We all missed competing, and everyone is now hungry for victory. It seems to me that all the fights will be very entertaining. All the fighters will put on great bouts,” Zhubanysh explains.

“No one comes to the World Championship to lose. Everyone comes expecting they are going to win. I have researched all my potential opponents; many of them took part in the 2019 World Championship. My principal rivals are fighters from Russia and Bahrain but the national team of Tajikistan also has strong athletes.”

After two turbulent years, Zhubanysh has become adept at the art of not letting anything distract him from his training. Kazakhstan has undergone a period of recent unrest, but Zhubanysh is focused on the job at hand and is determined to represent his country with pride on the world stage.

“I will do my best to become a three-time world champion. I want to make history and showcase my country to the entire world. This is what I am focused on now,” he explains. “Preparations for the World Championship are in full swing. During the New Year holidays, I trained in my hometown of Aktobe and will shortly go through the final stage of the training camp in Almaty. From there, we will go to Abu Dhabi.”

Since he began competing for IMMAF, Zhubanysh has watched as his peers have transitioned to the professional ranks. After four years under the IMMAF umbrella and having scaled the heights of the amateur game, Zhubanysh feels that the moment for him to make a name for himself in the professional ranks is drawing ever closer.

“After the upcoming competition, I will move to professional MMA. All the guys who started with me are now fighting in the professional leagues, and I understand it’s now time to make that move. “

Before that happens, Zhubanysh has a date with destiny in Abu Dhabi. Two world titles mark him out as an elite fighter, but if he captures three world titles, then the only way to describe him would be as a legend.

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

The event is hosted by the UAE Jiu jitsu & MMA Federation with support from the Abu Dhabi Sport Council and in partnership with Palm Sports.

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Familiar foes could clash again in the battle for Lightweight gold Fri, 21 Jan 2022 09:47:19 +0000

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By James Eakin

One of the most exciting divisions for the upcoming IMMAF Amateur MMA World Championships is the Men’s Senior Lightweight division. All 32 spots are full, meaning a new world champion is guaranteed. The division boasts a plethora of talent that includes familiar faces mixed in with fresh talent. 2019 world champion Murad Umachiev opted to pursue a professional career in 2021, leaving the door open to a new rising star to take home gold for their country.

One athlete to keep a close eye on at the event is Salamat Isbulaev, who represents the RMMAU. Isbulaev boasts plenty of experience and has multiple accolades. Notably, winning gold medals at the 2019 IMMAF Senior European Open and the 2021 RMMAU Championships. He is a favourite for the gold medal this year. He has an outstanding amateur record of 21-2-0 and is riding an 8-fight win streak that includes three finishes, making him one to keep a close eye on.

Without a doubt, one of the most enthralling potential matches that could arise is a bout between the aforementioned, Isbulaev and Ukraine’s Ivan Kurelaru. Kurelaru defeated Spain’s Antoni Josep Marti Segarra by unanimous decision to win the IMMAF Senior World Cup in 2021. With a record of 6-3-0, Kurelaru will be hoping to extend his current impressive win streak. 

An athlete who will be seeking redemption is Antoni Josep Marti Segarra. Representing Edu Riego Team and the Federación Española de Lucha Olímpica y Disciplinas Asociadas, Segarra has unfortunately failed in his bids for gold in IMMAF competition so far. Losses to both Isbulaev and Kurelaru will have lit a fire underneath the Spanish athlete heading into the World Championships. Marti Segerra is currently ranked 4th in the IMMAF Senior Lightweight rankings and boasts an exceptional amateur record of 23-4-0. He will be hoping to bounce back from his loss to Kurelaru. Can he cause an upset? We will have to wait and see. 

Another fighter to keep an eye on is Irishman Solomon Simon. The slick striker fighting out of Team Ryano Waterford was a standout performer at the World Cup. His record currently stands at 7-4-0 and he could face a rematch with Antoni Josep Marti Segarra should the two meet in competition. Simon dropped a unanimous decision to the Spaniard at the 2021 IMMAF World Cup and will be out for revenge and looking to extend his win streak to two. 

Fighting out of Australia, representing IMMAFA is Jordan Thomas, a potential dark horse of the division. The 2020 Oceania Gold medallist is riding a 3-fight win streak which includes two submission finishes. 

The full list of athletes entering the Men’s Lightweight Division are as follows:


Abdalrhman Alhyasat – Jordan 

Allistar Kunene – South Africa 

Angelos Fotiadis – Greece

Antoni Josep Marti Segarra – Spain 

Arnaud Prigent – France                                            

Daniel Schordje – Austria

Dehilis Anouar – Germany

Harda Karim – Norway

Harry Shaw – England

Huthaifa Ahmed – United Arab Emirates 

Ivan Kurelaru – Ukraine                    

Jordan Thomas – Australia 

Koshish Shrestha – Nepal

Kurban Idrisov – Bahrain 

Layth Saad Subhi – Iraq 

Luca Borando – Italy                                                 

Luis Gonzalez – Mexico

Maciej Rebacz – Poland

Marcel Simo – Slovakia

Marko Sarasjarvi – Finland

Mayur Chandra Prasad – India

Neimat Assadov – Kazakhstan

Oliver Schmid – New Zealand

Salamat Isbulaev – Russia

Solomon Simon – Ireland

Tamahau Mc comb – French Polynesia 

Teimur Ahmetoglu – Turkey

Tobias Soderberg – Sweden 

Toni Bou Rached – Lebanon 

Vojtech Khol – Czech Republic 

Ze Machado – Portugal 

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from the 24th to the 29th of January 2022.

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Portugal is heading to Abu Dhabi with a point to prove Fri, 21 Jan 2022 09:45:45 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

The Portuguese team is heading to the 2021 IMMAF World Championships with their biggest line-up ever.

Eight of the country’s best athletes have qualified for the biggest tournament in amateur MMA. Portugal was one of the first nations to join the governing body, and they have been present at every World Championships to date.

Their team has grown exponentially over the last ten years despite the difficult circumstances they’ve had to operate in. The European nation has struggled financially throughout its history. But it’s never dissuaded them from trying to achieve their goals. Their official spokesperson, Luis Barneto Filipe, has coached the squad singlehandedly at all the major tournaments without any financial help.

He told IMMAF: “I have been filling the role of coach and team leader since the first world championship, back in 2014. We have no financial aid from anyone. So each year, the athletes make an effort to finance themselves, and apart from a couple of championships, they travelled with only one coach.”

Filipe struggled to get their championship side together due to their financial restraints. The bulk of preparation was done by coaches at their retrospective clubs. The final selection process was made following two tryout events. 

This year, the growing squad has a second coach, who they hope will make a positive impact starting January 24. They hope to capitalise on their momentum from the 2019 World Cup in Bahrain. Bantamweight Leandro Gomes dominated the competition and picked up Portugal’s first-ever gold medal. Filipe is delighted that the 19-year-old has put his country on the map.

He said: “We are all very proud of Leandro, our world champion. Naturally, we feel motivated as his accomplishment has shown us a world of possibilities. He’s proved that success is possible with or without financial help from the government.”

The Portuguese have also been inspired by their neighbours.

Filipe added: “Spain have inspired us since they also struggle to get support, and traditionally, we cheer for them, and they cheer for us.”

Portugal has a great deal of confidence in the squad that’s heading out to Abu Dhabi. Flyweight Rui Morgado is desperately searching for his first win in IMMAF competition. The 23-year-old trains hard despite stringent job commitments. He has a second-degree black belt in taekwondo with elite Jiu-Jitsu to match. 

In addition, their bantamweight, Iuri Rodrigues, is hoping to redeem himself after a split decision loss in the Junior European Championships. Portugal also expects big things from jiu-jitsu practitioners Tomas Figueira and Guilherme Andrade. Furthermore, their welterweight, Edmilson Gomes, may lack MMA experience, but his grappling prowess could make up for it. He’s won several national wrestling championships throughout his career. But their biggest threat is 2019 Junior European vice-champion, José Machado, who is hoping to translate junior success into the seniors.

Despite their struggles, Filipe believes that 2022 is the year for Portugal to prove just how good they can be. He’s given us an insight into the mentality that he’s installed into his fighters.

He explained: “Everyone is capable of going far in the competition.  This wasn’t always the case with our teams, in my opinion. They are confident and want to win their first ‘final’. After that, their second, and so on because this is a competition with up to 5 “final matches”. So, the goal is to see each fight as the final and see where we can go. Although there are countries with better opportunities, I still naturally want my team to perform to their best. The Portuguese people are traditionally used to reaching goals and winning battles that were theoretically impossible.”

It’s clear that these athletes can overcome any obstacle thrown in their direction. They’ve refused to give up on their dreams, and Filipe has explained how.

The coach concluded: “It’s the warrior spirit. They’ve all made enormous sacrifices. Despite our lack of results, our major challenge is to keep the athletes competing long enough at this high level, before going professional. This may be the first generation willing to do so since the culture is changing, and if all goes well, by 2023, we will secure government support.”

The full team for Portugal is as follows –

Rui Morgado – Men’s M: Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs)

Iuri Rodrigues – Men’s M: Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs)

Guilherme Andrade – Men’s M: Featherweight 65.8 kg (145 lbs)

Ze Machado – Men’s M: Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs)

Daniel Martins – Men’s M: Jr Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs)

Axel Furtado – Men’s M: Jr Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs)

Edmilson Gomes – Men’s M: Welterweight 77.1 kg (170 lbs)

Tomas Figueira – Men’s M: Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs)

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Stage is set for the stacked Women’s Senior Flyweight division Thu, 20 Jan 2022 15:48:57 +0000

The post Stage is set for the stacked Women’s Senior Flyweight division appeared first on IMMAF.


By Caoilte de Barra

A common story that we are seeing in the build-up to the 2021 IMMAF World Championships is that a division will crown a new champion. Men’s Bantamweight and Featherweight are two examples of this and Women’s Flyweight is no different. The division was ruled by Bianca Antman in 2019, however, she opted to turn pro in 2020. Meaning a new champion will be crowned. 

The division currently has twenty entries in the days leading up to the event, the most entries of all the Women’s divisions. It is also one where multiple contenders could steal the show. The front-running standout is Beatriz Consuli Diniz of Bahrain, who won Flyweight gold at the 2021 European Open Championships. Her run in the European Open saw her keep both RMMAU entries at bay to take gold with ease. 

There will be two more RMMAU athletes that she could face in Abu Dhabi. The standout is Lyubov Salnikova, who is undefeated after winning four fights in three days back in May. 

Third-ranked Millie Eriksson will be hoping to be her fellow countrywoman’s successor. The Swede bounced back from a five-fight skid to finish all that stepped in her way at The IMMAF World Cup back in August. She showed a much-improved skill set and shot up the rankings by taking gold. Her last loss came against Consuli Diniz so revenge could be on the cards if they meet in Abu Dhabi. 

Exciting Irish talent Sarah Carney will be hoping to build on her recent silver medal at the World Cup. This time enters unfamiliar territory by moving on from Junior to Senior and stepping down to the Flyweight division. The step down to Flyweight could prove tough but may also be the one that sees her thrive. 

Some impressive new talent is entering the pool of talent his year. And each of them could shake up the division. Poland is renowned for having a strong amateur set up regionally. At IMMAF competitions their female fighters have been some of the standouts in recent times. The experienced Paulina Wisniewska could be the latest one to succeed on the international stage as she makes her IMMAF debut with 15 bouts already behind her. 

The second newcomer to watch is Naomie Young. She is flying in from the USA following a dominant year that saw her earn XFN Strawweight gold in a card headlining fight. Young also holds a belt at Flyweight and is one of seven entries from the United States this year. 

Lastly, we have Giulianny Perea representing Brazil. The nation tends to bring over strong talent, Michele Oliveira, being a prime example. Another Nova Uniao fighter thrived in the flyweight division. Now it’s her teammates’ turn. Perea may only have two fights to date but has a wealth of grappling experience, winning multiple medals in Brazil as a purple belt.

The division is wide open for a new champion, and it remains to be seen who can take the top spot. The answer may lie in the proven competitors that have already medalled, or maybe we see the new wave come through and upset the masses. Either way, it is a division with proven talent from across the globe and will be nothing short of exciting.

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022. All the information regarding the event can be found on My Next Match.

The full list of Flyweight competitors is as follows: 

Aigerim Torekhanova – Kazakhstan

Alexandra Mitina – Russia 

Alice Maniccia – Italy 

Beatriz Consuli Diniz – Bahrain 

Eman Khan – Pakistan 

Giulliany Perea – Brazil 

Jessica Gusmerini – Switzerland 

Ksenija Grabova – Estonia 

Lama Nassar – Lebanon 

Liubov Salnikova – Russia 

Marketa Urbanova – Czech Republic 

Mathilde Aschenbrenner – France 

Millie Eriksson – Sweden 

Muskan Ratre – India 

Naomie Young – United States 

Paulina Wisniewska – Poland 

Pnina Aronov – Israel 

Sarah Carney – Ireland 

Sonja Pohjalainen – Finland 

Violeta Mendoza – Mexico 

Violleta Putintseva – Kazakhstan 

Yasmin Moto – Bahrain

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2019 Youth Medallist Kiya O’Sullivan going for gold at the World Championships Thu, 20 Jan 2022 15:47:36 +0000

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Ireland will be out in full force next week when the 2021 IMMAF World Championships begin inside the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi.

The All-Ireland team will arrive with a squad bursting with talent and riding a wave of confidence after their impressive performance at last year’s World Cup in Prague.

Helping spearhead the charge for gold will be rising star Kiya O’ Sullivan, who first burst onto the IMMAF stage in 2019 at the inaugural Youth MMA World Championships to secure a silver medal for Ireland. The 18-year-old burst returned last year to win the junior women’s flyweight title in Prague and now aims to add a junior world championship to her trophy cabinet when she returns to the IMMAF cage. 

O’ Sullivan is excited about the prospect of once again representing her country on the world stage and feels that the bond forged within the Irish team has helped contribute to their recent success.

“The team spirit at the World Cup at Prague was incredible. It was an honor just to represent Ireland, and to win the gold as well was simply the best,” she says.

“The atmosphere in the Ireland camp is really motivational. In recent years, the Irish MMA scene has become much more integrated, and we now see IMMAF athletes increasingly training together back home in Ireland. This means that the team is much more together when we travel abroad, and you can really feel the support from your fellow competitors.”

 It has not been the smoothest of sailing for O’ Sullivan in the build-up to the world championships. The ongoing pandemic continues to make life difficult for athletes worldwide, and in this regard, O’ Sullivan is no exception.

“Training has been tough at times because of the restrictions in Ireland due to Covid. I also contracted Covid myself and so could not train for a number of weeks,” she explains. “However, I remained motivated and had lots of support from my team at CMAC, and so I’ve pushed on and made myself ready to recapture the gold.”

Understanding the sacrifices and commitment it takes to excel as a martial artist is something that comes easy to O’ Sullivan. After all, MMA runs in her family’s veins.

 O’ Sullivan’s father is the general secretary of the Irish MMA Association, while her mother is an IMMAF cutwoman and competed at the 2015 IMMAF European Open. Her older brother Alexander is a four-time IMMAF medallist, and the family owns and operates the CMAC gym in Dublin, so it makes sense then that O’ Sullivan would join the family business and become a martial artist.

“I started doing Judo at six years old and have been heavily involved in combat sports since [then], with K-1, Jiu-Jitsu, and of course MMA,” she explains. 

“The fact that my family is involved is very helpful. They understand the difficulties and obstacles that I must go through as a fighter because they have undergone them themselves. My mother and brother have both represented Ireland at previous IMMAFs, and now my brother is also on the Ireland coaching team and will be supporting me all the way to the cage with his experience.”

O’Sullivan is still in the beginning stages of her MMA career, but she is already mapping out her future pathway. Her desire to compete at the World Championships stems not just from getting the opportunity to add to her medal tally but also to see how she fares, matching up against the world’s best.

“I am aware that the competition will be fiercer this year, and I’m looking forward to challenging myself against the top amateurs in the world. As I plan to go pro in the future, it is imperative that I get to test my skills against top international competition now so I can round out my game for the pro scene”, O’ Sullivan explains.

“I have lots to learn still, and I also have time on my side as I am still [only] 18. I will likely stay amateur until I am at least 21. I would like to enter the senior IMMAF divisions and add the senior gold to my resume before I hit the professional leagues.”

Women’s MMA has grown in leaps and bounds over the past five years, and with fighters like O’ Sullivan starting to make their presence felt, the future of women’s MMA is in safe hands.

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Frlic flys the flag for Slovenia at the 2021 IMMAF World Championships Thu, 20 Jan 2022 15:46:13 +0000

The post Frlic flys the flag for Slovenia at the 2021 IMMAF World Championships appeared first on IMMAF.


By James Sweetnam

Miha Frlic is Slovenia’s sole representative for the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi.

The European nation may not top the medal table, but they are growing in reputation. At the World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic, Frlic impressed MMA purists with his bronze medal-winning run. He emerged from the tournament with huge respect despite his loss to Bahraini superstar and World Championship favourite Rasul Magomedov.

The Slovenian outfit has gradually improved over the last few years, and have an ambitious programme. Their official spokesperson, Darren Russell, is excited for a second potential collision between Frlic and Magomedov in addition to the splash he expects the nation to make in the coming years. 

He said: “We believe we can impact the medal table, especially long term, with the plan to develop and grow a team that can compete in all weight classes. Miha is our first rising star and he will look to impress in Abu Dhabi, potentially rematching Rasul.”

It seems that Slovenia is making all the right moves to become genuine players at the highest level of MMA. They have developed several professional fighters, including Jakob Nedoh, Lemmy Krusic and Uros Jurisic. But to continue their long-term growth, they’re now developing athletes at the grassroots level.

The appetite for combat sports is growing in Slovenia. In January 2020, Brave FC sold out a capacity crowd in their capital, Ljubljana. The fans roared in excitement as the landmark event provided a night of exciting knockouts and performances. But for that momentum to continue, their team must make improvements.

They’re currently struggling because the concept of ‘amateur MMA’ is a relatively new phenomenon in their region. Most of their athletes turn professional with minimal experience. But according to Russell, that’s all changing for the better.

He added: “We’ve had challenges putting the team together as amateur competition in sport is a relatively new thing in the region. So SMMAA strives to continue to develop these pathways as well as supporting local gyms.”

“Slovenian MMA will come a long way in 2022 and beyond – watch this space.”

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IMMAF President Kerrith Brown thanks UAE partners for saving the IMMAF World Championships Thu, 20 Jan 2022 15:44:55 +0000

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IMMAF President Kerrith Brown thanked IMMAF’s UAE partners for their tremendous support that has saved IMMAF’s flagship annual event, the 2021 edition of the IMMAF World Championships.

Originally scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan last year, the nations MMA tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic situation in Nur-Sultan. At the same time, the IMMAF President was finalising a three-year deal for the Youth World Championships with the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and in partnership with Palms Sports.

Brown commented, “We are extremely grateful that the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Palms Sports agreed to step in and rescue the World Championships at such short notice. Our hosts are well used to hosting the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championships which can number around 4000 athletes, with National Sports Authority support, while Palms Sports is the company behind UAE Warriors, so we are lucky to be in the best hands.”

The UAE had indeed hosted the Jiu Jitsu Worlds in the Autumn with a strictly regulated Covid bubble in place, but the Omicron had not yet gained significance. The new Covid variant has led to a number of changes in both travel and health protocols, to which IMMAF, the event organisers and participants will have had to adapt.

Brown continued: “The UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Palms Sports have been phenomenal in their commitment to ensuring that this event can go ahead in an extremely challenging landscape that has impacted logistics, financials and staffing on many levels. They are really pulling out the stops to deliver the best Championships and it is exciting being on the ground to see all the elements come together. We all really look forward to welcoming our National Federations, coaches and athletes here in a couple of days’ time, for our first World Championships in two years, and as a family pulling together to create an excellent and memorable event.”

Brown also thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; His Excellency Abdulmunem Al Hashmi, President of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation; His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; His Excellency Mohamed Dalmouj Al Dhaheri, Chairman of the UAE MMA Committee; and the Department of Culture and Tourism for their invaluable support, without which the Championships would not be possible.

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Abu Dhabi to host IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards 2021 Wed, 19 Jan 2022 14:46:50 +0000

The post Abu Dhabi to host IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards 2021 appeared first on IMMAF.


  • Thursday 27 January 2022
  • Millenium Al Rawdah, Abu Dhabi

The 2021 IMMAF Amateur MMA Awards is to take place on the evening of Thursday 27 January 2022 at the Millenium Al Rawdah hotel in Abu Dhabi. The invitation-only, black-tie event commences at 19:00hrs (local time).

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federations’ annual Awards dinner celebrates the achievements of IMMAF athletes, coaches, officials and National Federations in the development of amateur and grassroots MMA.

See below for the full list of awards categories, for which winners will be nominated by IMMAF and announced on the night.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“It’s been a challenging year for participants of MMA globally in the face of the pandemic. This years’ Awards pays tribute to the commitment and passion of our athletes, coaches and National Federations who have achieved against the odds in progressing the sport despite the closure of gyms and stopping of competitions throughout the period. Although not every national team could attend the three Championships that IMMAF achieved in 2020, new talent emerged while returning athletes showed an increase in their skill level and competitiveness. This is a credit to their tenacity and to the support given by their coaches and federations. We look forward to reuniting with the IMMAF family and celebrating their tremendous achievements at IMMAF’s first in-person Awards in two years.”


Athlete Awards:

  • Male Athlete of the Year (senior)
  • Female Athlete of the Year (senior) 
  • Junior Athlete of the Year 
  • Newcomer of the Year (junior or senior)
  • Green Hill Performance of the Year (junior or senior) 
  • MNM Award

National Federation Awards:

  • National Federation of 2021
  • Coach Education Award 2
  • IMMAF Grading Scheme Award 2021
  • Best in IT Award 
  • Best on Social Media Award
  • Anti-Doping Education Award (Bulgaria)
  • Host Federation 2021 awards
  • MyNextMatch Excellence Award

Officials Awards:

  • Regulatory Contribution Award
  • Regulatory Excellence Award 

IMMAF President’s Award

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Heavyweight division set for epic clashes at the IMMAF World Championships Wed, 19 Jan 2022 09:39:16 +0000

The post Heavyweight division set for epic clashes at the IMMAF World Championships appeared first on IMMAF.


By James Sweetnam

The heavyweight division is the most attractive in all of combat sports. Fans can’t get enough of watching these larger-than-life athletes take each other out.

On January 24, MMA enthusiasts will get to enjoy the start of the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi. The tournament is renowned for finding and developing the best amateur talent from all around the globe.

Each fighter is vying to further their career, achieve the accolade of ‘the best on the planet’ and excite their supporters. Every year the MMA community feels privileged to watch the fighters regardless of the weight class. But there isn’t a single division more appealing than heavyweight.

There is a plethora of mixed martial artists who all believe that they can claim their place on the 265-pound throne. But the man entering the competition with the most momentum is surely Rasul Magomedov. The Bahraini has looked mightily impressive in his IMMAF tenure to date. In August, He cruised his way to gold in the European Open event. His stunning performance in the final particularly impressed fans. He dismantled the reigning champion Omar Aliev to secure a comprehensive unanimous decision victory.

Following his breakthrough tournament, the 27-year-old proved that he was anything but a flash in the pan. He arrived at the World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic, with a massive point to prove – and he did just that. Magomedov dominated the entire tournament to stand atop the medal table once again.

His groundbreaking showings have made him a worthy favourite going into the UAE competition. But he certainly isn’t the only fighter with a good chance of winning. Arlind Berisha also emerged victorious at the World Cup. The Kosovan struck gold in the junior heavyweight division. However, he’s stepping up a weight class for the World Championships. A collision between two of the best big men on the entire planet will keep fans glued to the edge of their seats.

Berisha continued to impress in the aftermath of his glowing success in Prague. The intimidating fighter has stopped every man who has dared set foot in the cage with him. His most recent fight against Guolaugar Por Einarsson for the Cage Warriors Southeast amateur title was expected to provide him with a stern test. However, despite taking Berisha to the second round for the first time in his amateur career, the Icelander couldn’t do much else. He was finished via body kick with half of the second segment remaining.

We’re yet to discover whether Berisha can compete with the elite at Senior Heavyweight, but there’s no doubting his talent. A potential meeting between the 21-year-old and Magomdeov would undoubtedly set the world alight.

However, as good as this contest would be, there’s one man who could be the dark horse of the entire championships. Shamil Kuramagomedov is potentially the most seasoned athlete in the whole division. His 8-2 record is less appealing than the unbeaten fighters in the competition. But his experience could pay dividends on the biggest stage of them all. Despite losing his last two IMMAF bouts, the RMMAU athlete bounced back to win his countries national championships.

The 5 ft 11 heavyweight is slightly smaller in stature than his adversaries, but his grappling prowess more than makes up for it. If he can successfully utilise all the tools in his repertoire, he has a real chance of upsetting the applecart.

But if fans are looking for an outside pick, they needn’t look any further than the New Zealand team. The Kiwi’s are taking two extremely bright prospects to Abu Dhabi. They may lack experience on the big stage, but they’re getting all the preparation they need in their homeland. Australasia has become a hotbed for high-level martial artists in recent years. The UFC is currently home to two of their world champions in Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski.

They regularly train alongside the best prospects in their country, and one fighter who’s reaped the rewards of this is Alexander Lutu. He’s watched and trained alongside ‘StyleBender’, and there’s no doubting that his game will have come on leaps and bounds for the experience. In addition, Abraham Paku has been sharing rounds with premier heavyweight Tai Tuivasa – the Kiwi couldn’t have secured a better sparring partner if he’d tried.

There’s no doubt that the underdog nation still has a huge mountain to climb. But if their work behind the scenes is anything to go by, then they have a genuine chance of making a mark on the medal table.

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Could Estonia prove to be a dark horse at the IMMAF World Championships? Wed, 19 Jan 2022 08:17:45 +0000

The post Could Estonia prove to be a dark horse at the IMMAF World Championships? appeared first on IMMAF.


By Ross Patterson

Estonia is putting forward a team of six athletes to the IMMAF World Championships, which begin on the 24th of January, 2022. A member since the formation of IMMAF back in 2012, Estonia will be fielding a team of experienced athletes as well as fresh faces. 

Mixed martial arts was officially recognised as a sport in Estonia in 2021. A familiar team at IMMAF events, the Estonians are looking to medal once again. 

Vallo Hannus, Member of the Board of the Estonian Mixed Martial Arts Federation, said: 

“In title competition winning the medal is always the target. But the world championships, like all tournaments, are going match by match. So for athletes every day the goal is to win the next match. Estonia is a small county and in the end – even one medal would be a great success for our team.”

Ksenija Grabova and Sergei Strinza are both returning to the IMMAF competition. With prior experience, these two will be leading the way for the younger team members. Both fighters have tasted success in IMMAF competition and will be hungry for more. 

Kristjan Tõniste is a newcomer to watch. The high-level Judoka is no stranger to large scale competitions having competed at multiple World Championships. Vallo Hannus commented, 

“Former judoka Kristjan Tõniste is coming in strong to MMA. Our juniors (Caspar, Raimond, Danila) are making their first steps in the world arena but the future is definitely owned by younger athletes.” 

Estonia could prove to be a dark horse in the World Championships. They are an experienced federation, a nation committed to the sport of MMA, and are a dynamic team of tested athletes and hungry new competitors. 

Full squad: 

Ksenija Grabova – Women’s F: Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs) 

Danila Gorbunov – Men’s M: Jr Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs) 

Raimond Uibo – Men’s M: Jr Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs) 

Caspar Vahemets – Men’s M: Jr Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs) 

Sergei Strinza – Men’s M: Welterweight 77.1 kg (170 lbs) 

Kristjan Toniste – Men’s M: Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs)

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from the 24th to the 29th of January 2022.

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Women’s Atomweight looks set to be an extremely competitive division at IMMAF World Championships Tue, 18 Jan 2022 09:46:55 +0000

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By Ross Patterson 

The Women’s Atomweight division promises to be extremely competitive, with multiple potential gold medallists. 

Poland’s Magdalena Czaban will be a huge favourite for gold. The 22-year-old is the 2021 and 2019 Atomweight European gold medallist, as well as IMMAF Junior World Champion. She’s an incredibly aggressive mixed martial artist, and will undoubtedly be looking to secure a Senior World Championship gold in Abu Dhabi. 

However, looking to defeat Czaban (as she did when they met in 2020) is Sweden’s Bezhan Mahmudi. The 2019 Atomweight World Champion will be looking for her second gold medal on the biggest stage in amateur mixed martial arts. She also won the Oceana Atomweight gold, defeating Czaban via unanimous decision. The 27-year-old will be feeling confident of a podium finish. 

Finland’s Jenna Horto is another athlete with gold medal potential. Highly experienced, Horto is the 2018 European Champion, 2018 World bronze medallist, 2019 European bronze winner, and the 2021 European silver medallist (losing in the final to Czaban). She will be vying for a podium position to add to her already impressive record. 

Making her debut in the Atomweight division is Kazakhstan’s Nurzhamal Sadykova. As the 2018 Strawweight bronze medallist, 2019 Asian Strawweight silver medallist and 2021 European Strawweight bronze medallist, her first outing at Atomweight will be fascinating. Will she finally win a gold medal, or will the smaller women be too fast for her? 

Ireland has two strong entries to the Atomweight division – Nadine Abbott-Bisset, and Caitlyn Hadfield. Abbott-Bisset is the 2019 Atomweight silver medallist and 2019 Junior World silver medallist (she lost in the final to Czaban). Hadfield won bronze in the Strawweight division at the 2021 Prague World Cup. Both women will be eyeing a spot on the World Championship podium. 

So it’s all to play for in the Women’s 47kg division. Will Czaban assert herself as the greatest Atomweight in the world? Could Sweden’s Mahmudi get the better of Czaban once again and claim the top spot? Or will a new MMA Queen rise and claim the gold medal? Atomweight could prove to be the most exciting division of all, come January 24th. 

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022. All the information regarding the event can be found on My Next Match.

Full list of Atomweight Competitors: 

Bezhan Mahmudi – Sweden 

Caitlyn Hadfield – Northern Ireland 

Jenitza Ramos – Puerto Rico 

Jenna Horto – Finland 

Magdalena Czaban – Poland 

Nadine Abbott Bissett – Ireland 

Nurzhamal Sadykova – Kazakhstan 

Tuymegul Zhunys – Kazakhstan 

Vera Buga – RMMAU 

Vridhi Kumari – India 

Yana Markova – RMMAU

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Rising Star Kayyali proudly flies the flag for Jordan at the IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi Tue, 18 Jan 2022 09:45:26 +0000

The post Rising Star Kayyali proudly flies the flag for Jordan at the IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi appeared first on IMMAF.


by Michael Clifton

Jordan’s Hazem Kayyali will arrive in Abu Dhabi for the IMMAF World Championships with a reputation as one of the sport’s most exciting prospects.

The dynamic middleweight came to prominence last September when he won gold at the IMMAF World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic. Kayyali looked impressive throughout the tournament with his exceptional ground game and fluid striking, creating all manner of problems for his opponents.

However, it wasn’t just Kayyali’s technical abilities that got people talking. It was also the confidence and showmanship he exuded during his bouts that left audiences with the feeling they were witnessing something special.

“When you train, and you prepare for something as much as I do, your confidence is sky-high. I have nothing to doubt and if I go in there and I put [out] what I got, I know I’m going to perform, ” Kayyali says. “I’ll go in there and have some fun, and that’s the way I do it. I like to enjoy myself, and [when] I’m in the cage, I’m just calm, cool, collected, and I do my thing.”

Kayyali’s road to the title saw him record four straight wins, with his most impressive outing coming in the final, where he submitted Ireland’s Eoin Sheridan in the second round. On his way to the gold medal matchup, he scored unanimous decision wins over Estonia’s Raigo Kutsar, Ireland’s Stephen Costello, and gained a submission victory over the Czech Republic’s Lukáš Piffko.  

The 21-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt may be relatively new on the IMMAF scene, but he is fast building an impressive track record and is hungry to add an IMMAF World Championship to his growing accolades.

“Whenever you’re stepping into an IMMAF cage, you’re stepping in with the top of the top. But like I said before, when I step in that cage, I will be prepared. I don’t think anybody can stop me. It’s just the way I carry myself. It’s the way I train,” he explains.

The self-belief Kayyali possesses isn’t simply based on natural talent and youthful exuberance but rather from the hundreds of hours’ worth of sweat he has dedicated to his craft.

“My dad is a huge martial arts fan, and he has been into fighting since he was young. I was training when I could barely walk. It’s just something I have built in me. I have so many gifts given to me from God, and I’m gifted with a family that does fighting and I’m gifted to come from a bloodline of fighters,” he explains.

MMA truly is a family affair in the Kayyali household. Hazem has two brothers, Zaki, 17, who competes under the IMMAF banner, and Laith, 23, who turned professional in 2020 and recently fought for UAE Warriors. Between them, they have won 11 BJJ world titles. They were all introduced to martial arts by their father, Mohammad, who saw in MMA a way for his sons to learn the importance of commitment and discipline and to understand what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.

It was Mohammad who gave his sons their initial combat education; before he sought out the right coaches that would help take their talents to the next level.

“I already developed the most important thing, which is their heart. It all begins after that. [Then] they start training with different coaches”, the elder Kayyali says. “One coach cannot teach a fighter everything.”

His father’s forward-thinking mentality helped shape Kayyali into the fighter he is today. From the start, Kayyali experienced a freedom not given to many rookie martial artists: the freedom to incorporate different disciplines into his practice, discover what did not work for him and develop his own signature style.

“I wasn’t taught one plus one is two,” Kayyali says. “I was taught to explore, to do whatever I want, you know, to build my own style. Nobody came and tried to teach me exactly how to fight. They showed me how to fight and then let me develop my game, develop the way I want to fight, develop the way I like to.”

Kayyali, who is also studying business at university, is quick to give credit to his parents, who have supported him throughout his journey.

“My inspiration in my life is my parents. My parents have been through a lot. They’ve sacrificed so much for me and my brothers,” he says. “Achieving and putting my family’s name out there is the biggest reward for me.”

Kayyali is also aware that he represents his family and country each time he competes. MMA is still a growing sport in his homeland, and Kayyali is determined with the help of his teammates Jordan can become an established force on the world scene.

“I’ll be the guy to put my teammates on the map. I’ll be that guy to put my country on the map. I do this for personal achievements, but at the end of the day, when my brothers and sisters step in that cage and get the same results, if not better results, I won’t be mad about it. I’d be proud to say that my country stood up and did this, and I was a pioneer in that.” he explains. “We’ve got a huge load on our shoulders. But the thing is that we are up to that task. We can do it, and we’re more than willing to do it.”

Hazem Kayyali is someone IMMAF fans are likely to hear a lot about in the coming years, but if he has his way, he will not be the only Jordanian fighter making waves in the future.

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

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“Our Target is to Win Medals” – England Aim for the Podium at the IMMAF World Championships Mon, 17 Jan 2022 15:09:53 +0000

The post “Our Target is to Win Medals” – England Aim for the Podium at the IMMAF World Championships appeared first on IMMAF.


By Ross Patterson 

The English Mixed Martial Arts Association (EMMAA) is ready for a tough challenge at the IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi. But they are confident they can win medals and will be looking to move up the International rankings. On the 3rd of January, the UK was moved to the Covid red list for the UAE, and Covid is still disrupting movement between countries. 

The EMMAA held trials in December which attracted talent from all over the UK. The 2021 IMMAF World Championships were cancelled and rescheduled to January 2022. But despite having a short window in which to work EMMAA knuckled down to the job. Despite trying circumstances, a team was formed, funds raised, and the squad are now ready to fly to Abu Dhabi (Covid dependant!). 

EMMAA coach, Andrew Fisher, said:

“Our target is to win medals. Unfortunately due to the situation we are in it’s been a bit of a rushed way of getting a squad together, but I’m confident we have a few guys in the mix who have a good chance of winning medals.”

Teddy Adlington-Stringer, the Almighty Fighting Championship Lightweight Champion, is returning to IMMAF competition. Teddy competed in the 2019 IMMAF World Championships. A highly regarded mixed martial artist in the UK, he will be looking to use his experience to challenge for a medal in the welterweight division. 

Two young athletes from TFT MMA – Daniel Bainbridge and Jamie Roper – impressed everyone at the trials. Daniel will be in the senior bantamweight division and Jamie in the Juniors. It will be an IMMAF debut for both young men. 

Due to mixed vaccination statuses, it is still unclear whether all of the members of the England team will be able to travel to the UAE. The EMMAA are awaiting information on who will be able to make the trip, but there have been some positive signals from the UAE. 

Under difficult circumstances, the English Mixed Martial Arts Association has put together a strong squad for the IMMAF World Championships. With multiple medal hopefuls and an experienced coaching team, the representatives for the UK will be one to watch very closely come January 24th. 

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

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Full capacity Men’s Bantamweight division set to shine at IMMAF World Championships Mon, 17 Jan 2022 15:08:41 +0000

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By Jake Smith

The men’s Bantamweight division will see a new world champion crowned in Abu Dhabi. But will a former medalist climb to the top of the standings or could a new face become the best at 135lbs? With all 32 positions filling up instantly, the packed out division promises to deliver.

Only two of the four 2021 European Championships medallists will be returning at the World Championships.

Tynyshtyk Zhanibek shone when he claimed gold in Kazan. This will be Zhanibek’s second World Championships, he was outed on day three of his first tournament in 2019 against Muhammad Mokaev. After almost 2 years away from the cage, Zhanibek was back and ready to impress at the 2021 European Championships. Four bouts, and four wins, in as many days took the Kazakhstan Bantamweight to the top of the pile at 135lbs. Zhanibek could find himself ranked #1 with another medal in Abu Dhabi.

Tajikistan will be aiming for a Junior and Senior gold medal shut out following their European Championship success. The nation medalled in both the Junior and Senior divisions, with  Otabek Rajabov and Amirhamza Islamov taking home gold and bronze, respectively. Debuting at the European championships, Islamov instantly needed to find his top form when facing 25-bout amateur veteran Tobiasz Le in the opening round. He then beat Jose Borja Perez Before coming up short against European Champion Zhanibek in the final.

All four World Cup medalists will be back in action, all keen to add a World Championship medal to their collections.

After struggling to find his feet in his first few attempts on IMMAF platforms, Italy’s Fidel Gramiccia’s tenacious attitude & unfaltering commitment paid off in his fourth time of asking. Entering the World Cup on a three fight skid, Gramiccia felt he had everything to prove and that he did, with three decision victories taking him to the top of the podium.

Taylor Quinn helped Ireland clinch 4th spot in the senior medal table at the World Cup. In what was his first IMMAF tournament, Quinn opened his account impressively with a first round submission on day one. He picked up a TKO victory off his back on day two before an armbar secured his place in the final. Wanting to remain active, Quinn has competed three times since the World Cup, picking up one victory and two defeats. 

Abdulla Mubarak and Oskar Jaskari are no strangers to IMMAF championships. The two will look to put to use their previous experiences and finish the tournament with a medal.

Away from the familiar faces, there will be plenty of athletes looking to make a statement at the first time of asking at an IMMAF Championship. Malaysia’s Alexander Lew enters the championship on a five fight winning streak. Russian neutral athlete Shakhban Gapizov will no doubt be looking to replicate Gadzhimurad Zavaev’s success at 135lbs. Cooper Smith, Daniel Bainbridge & Movsar Ibragimov have also racked up impressive streaks ahead of their debut at these championships.

All World Championships action can be viewed live on

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Rising Star Gitinov ponders his professional options as he heads to the IMMAF World Championships Mon, 17 Jan 2022 10:00:38 +0000

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IMMAF welterweight world champion and Rising Star Ramazan Gitinov is fast approaching a pivotal moment in his career. Last August, the 24-year-old secured his second European Open title in Kazan, Russa. This month, he will be a firm favorite to defend his world title when the 2021 IMMAF World Championships takes place in Abu Dhabi.

After that, the Bahrani fighter will weigh up his options. A move to the professional ranks is not out of the question, but more time in the amateurs may benefit his long-term development.

“The European Championships showed that the one-year break affected him as a fighter. I know his potential, and I know he can do much better. We are working on his mistakes, and you will see the best version of Ramazan in Abu Dhabi, “says Eldar Eldarov, Team Bahrain’s head coach.

“I want him to stay one more year as an amateur because I feel the experience he’s getting right now is the best you can have as a fighter to sharpen yourself. But he wants to go pro. We’ll make a decision after the Worlds.”

Eldarov, like Gitinov, comes from Khunzakh in Dagestan, Russia, and knows more than most about how talented his young charge is. Eldarov invited his countryman to join him at Team Bahrain after experiencing Gitinov’s wrestling abilities firsthand during a training session.  

Gitinov has flourished since arriving in Bahrain in 2017, and while Eldarov may have spotted areas requiring improvement, it does not take away from how impressive his gold medal campaign was at the European Open.

Gitinov, who stands atop the IMMAF pound-for-pound rankings, marked his return to competition with an emphatic first-round submission victory over Russia’s Musa Ramazanov in their quarter-final matchup. He followed this up with a pair of unanimous decision victories over Bulgaria’s Deyan Galinov in the semi-final and Russia’s Evgeny Morozov in the final.

Gitinov’s wrestling was as strong as ever but what stood out was the development of his striking, an area of his game he had been aiming to improve in the months leading into the European Open.

“I was training during the year, I tried to focus on my striking this time, and I feel like I’ve improved my striking skills overall. And I’m happy with my performance because I beat really tough guys to get this gold medal,” he says.

Gitinov’s IMMAF medal tally currently sits at six, but his success has been anything but linear. He began his MMA career with two straight wins before suffering back-to-back defeats. The second of which, a stoppage loss to France’s Fabien Xabidi, took place with less than a minute gone on the clock.

It was a humbling moment for the young talent, who responded by assessing the situation regarding both his health following the fight and what he needed to do to upskill himself before deciding how to move forward.

“I feel lucky and blessed to have the right people by my side,” Gitinov explains.

“After that loss in 2017, I thought that maybe MMA was not my sport, and I must continue with my wrestling career. But my coach Eldar and our leader Sheikh Khaled motivated me, brought in the best doctors to work with me, and I recovered 100%.

“Most importantly, they believed in me and my future. I spent one full year in Bahrain to become a better athlete and worked a lot on my strength and conditioning. It gave me confidence and motivation, and I came back to the cage a brand-new fighter.”

The aim now is a second-world title, and any talk of turning professional is on hold until after the tournament. Gitinov knows that the competition he faces is constantly improving, and he refuses to let any discussions about his post world championship career distract him from the task at hand.

“The focus is now entirely on getting another world gold medal for Bahrain. I will leave any decision on my future until after the World Championships, ‘ he comments.

“There are a lot of new names in my weight class. Every competition, there’s someone new who gives everyone else a tough fight. Let’s see what happens this time. All I can control is how I perform, and I will be ready 100%.”

Team Bahrain will head into the tournament with high expectations. Alongside Gitinov, the team also boasts the No.1 women’s pound-pound fighter in Sabrina De Sousa and the No.2 men’s pound-for-pound athlete in Rasul Magomedov. It is a formidable squad and one that shares a strong bond.

“Our team is having the best training camp we’ve ever had,” Gitinov says.

“Our leader Sheikh Khaled brought all of us to Bahrain, and we are doing the camp in the same climate zone as Abu Dhabi. The camp in Bahrain is always good for us. Everyone tries to help those who are preparing. It’s real teamwork and amazing to have so many teammates together under one roof going for the same goals.”

Gitinov’s path after the World Championships is not set in stone, but what’s certain is that whatever decision he makes will be carefully planned out. Gitinov knows better than most about the importance of patience and making moves at the right time.

Watch the 2021 IMMAF World Championships streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

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Rising Star Czaban eyes a challenging division at the IMMAF Worlds Mon, 17 Jan 2022 09:59:03 +0000

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By Michael Clifton

Poland’s Rising Star, Magdalena Czaban, exploded onto the international stage in 2019 when she captured the atomweight title at the IMMAF European Open Championships in Italy. In doing so, she ended Poland’s gold medal drought by becoming the first senior Polish fighter since 2015 to claim the gold.

Since that day in Rome, Czaban, who currently holds four IMMAF medals, has continued to impress and heads into this month’s IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi as one of the favorites to claim the atomweight crown.

The 22-year-old is flying high after successfully defending her European Open title in August in Russia, where she overcame Finland’s Jenna Horto in the final. Czaban booked her ticket to the final with an explosive first-round TKO victory over Kazakhstan’s Inas Ashirbek, which showcased her development as a striker.

What made winning her second European title more satisfying than her first was that in the leadup to the tournament, Czaban injured an ankle and had been unable to train as normal before she flew out with the Polish team to Russia.

Going into her matchups, Czaban knew she could not afford a single wrong movement in case she aggravated her injury. It added an extra layer of pressure to her bouts, but Czaban feels she left the European Open a better fighter because of the experience.

“For the last four weeks before the Euros, I rested a lot and didn’t train normally, ” Czaban says.

“I had to be calmer in those fights and be careful because of that ankle. I could not make any mistakes.”

Along with her second senior title, Czaban left Russia with a newfound self-belief in her technical abilities, as well as a greater appreciation for the mental side of the sport.

” I have gone up a level, as opposed to [where I was] two years ago. There was a time when I didn’t see any difference, but the [European} Championship showed there’s a big difference between Magda two years ago and Magda now, ” she says.

“My grappling has gotten better; my striking gets better, and while it is hard to do that during a fight, my mentality has changed a lot… I think it changed a lot in that I understand my game and what I have to do in the fight to win.”

The upcoming world championships look set to test Czaban like never before. The atomweight division is loaded with talent, and she is aware that she will need to be at her best if she wants to add a world title to her trophy cabinet.

” It will be a big challenge for me because there are two girls from Kazakhstan, two girls from Ireland, and one from Sweden [reigning world champion Bezhan Mahmudi],  who is an excellent grappler,” she says.

“I think our division will be really good, for sure.”

Czaban, like all her fellow fighters training for the IMMAF World Championships, was forced to put aside some of her festive season celebrations to prepare for the upcoming tournament. Fortunately, Czaban’s partner Maciej Rębacz is also on the Polish IMMAF team and understands the sacrifices athletes make to pursue their dreams.

“It’s a really good situation for me because he is also cutting weight and has also gone through those hard sparring sessions, ” she says.

“So I think it is a great situation for him and me,” Czaban explains.

The clock has only just ticked over to 2022, but Czaban’s schedule is already looking packed; however, as someone who thrives on keeping herself busy, she would not want it any other way.

“Firstly, I just want to go to the World Championships, and right now, it’s my biggest aim. After that, we will think, but for sure [ I want to go to the IMMAF Euros], and maybe between the World Championship and Euro Championship, I will go for a BJJ World Championship.”

Czaban makes no secret of her aspiration to turn professional, but she also knows time is on her side. At the moment, she feels the best place to continue her MMA education is under the IMMAF banner.

“It’s a good place to meet new friends, and I love the community. I can go there, feel good and develop myself with the best amateur fighters in the world,” she says.

“The IMMAF amateur championship is the best way to gain experience for the professional scene. They are massive events, and if I compete for a professional organization someday, I don’t think I will be as stressed. So it’s a good feeling to have that experience at the highest level.”

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Achieving WADA Code Signatory status and what it means for the sport Fri, 14 Jan 2022 09:44:06 +0000

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By President Kerrith Brown OLY

After six years of hard political and legal battles, IMMAF has been awarded WADA Code Signatory. It’s the first organisation to achieve this under the revised policy for Acceptance of New Signatories which has set the bar even higher than in the past. 

A lot of work was put into getting that finalised. We were especially pushing to get it signed before Christmas and were successful in getting it signed off which was great news. It’s also great for IMMAF and what it means for the national federations pushing for recognition. IMMAF achieving WADA signatory status gives federations clout in the processes within their governmental structure. Aiding their fight to be recognised as a sport at a national level. 

What is interesting about this is that we are a non-Olympic sport and not even recognised as a sport by GAISF. Yet we have achieved this. Despite not being a recognised sport or governing body we’ve been accepted by WADA – which is one of the toughest applications you can make to be compliant as a clean sport. 

What this does is undermine the political game that has been taking place in GAISF. The politics in GAISF is that we are being held back because of political divisions caused by certain members. They are holding back because they are afraid of how our sport will impact their international federation or sport or athletes. Which I think is unfair in terms of fair competition. 

You could say we are probably ahead of the game byf achieving this signatory. But at the same time, we are still being held back because of politics. 

The application for WADA itself is a more stringent application process under the new terms. Which I believe is fair and transparent and shows the integrity that Bańka brings to the organisation. It puts them in good stead. This is great for all international bodies, to feel comfortable that they are affiliated with WADA and the policies that come with it. 

As for our Federations and the sport, the message is clear: we want to educate athletes to be clean athletes. And we should be promoting that at every level, especially from my own experience. I already encourage that, be it amateur or pro. And the fact that we are leading from an amateur perspective. That’s an important message that we should be proud of and the influence it may have on the whole industry. 

To help better educate the athletes and coaches, we will follow all the educational programs that we are signed up to. At the World Championships, we will have a seminar for the athletes to reinforce the education around anti-doping. 

It is ongoing education and is something we never had back in 1984-88 when I was an international competitor. Now that this education is available, you must be educating the athletes, from even as young as 12, especially if they are competing on the international stage. 

The earlier we educate them, the better, rather than leaving it too late. A primary target will be coaches. They will be the ones who have more of an influence on the athletes from a young age. They should be responsible for the development of athletes. Therefore, they should be knowledgeable about anti-doping.

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A new World Champion to be crowned in the Featherweight Division Fri, 14 Jan 2022 09:42:19 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

A new Featherweight World Champion will be crowned in Abu Dhabi at the 2021 IMMAF World Championships. 2019 Champion Ahmed Gazimagomedov is not returning to defend his crown this year, leaving the top spot wide open for a new contender to emerge. The stacked division has countless contenders capable of securing gold and is arguably the most unpredictable division in the competition. 

Spain’s Juan Izquierdo is in the prime spot to take home gold following a successful run at the 2021 World Cup in Prague. Izquierdo dominated all that stood in his way at the World Cup. His journey to gold saw him display some solid grappling ability that could cause an issue for many. Out of his ten fights in 2021, he finished the year 9-1 and currently sits in the second spot of the Featherweight rankings. 

Another World Cup standout hoping to rise to the occasion will be Ireland’s Ryan Keogh. The World Cup Junior Featherweight Champion went on a sensational run, finishing all four of his opponents. Keogh is another strong grappler with relentless takedowns and seamless BJJ ability. If he can repeat his performances from the World Cup he could set himself up for another Gold medal with minimal damage taken. 

A multi-time medalist moving up a division and graduating to the senior ranks is Reo Yamaguchi. Japan’s sole representative. His only losses in the IMMAF competition have come in a trilogy of finals with current UFC fighter Mohammad Mokaev. Their rivalry was a highlight in every competition they met. Yamaguchi hasn’t competed since 2019, however, he has been sharpening his tools in AKA Thailand, where he is a sponsored fighter. Given his track record, he is one of the more well-known names in the division. 

The list of contenders continues and Anatoliy Zolotykh cannot be overlooked. Before his split decision loss to Gazimagomedov at the 2019 World Championships, the Kazakh fighter hadn’t lost since 2016. His 2019 run saw him pick European Open and Asian Open Gold medals. His run included a kneebar submission in the European Championships that stood out from the crowd. Similar to Yamaguchi, he returns from a lengthy period of inactivity aspiring to return to form. 

Familiar names and former contenders aside, some fresh faces are entering the tournament this year. Russia always brings top athletes and Kurban Zainukov is another one to watch after bursting onto the regional scene in 2021. His regional excellence even saw him take out Lightweight stand out Omaraskhab Yusupov. 

The returning US team brings David Camacho, a regional standout with multiple belts to his name. The XFN Bantamweight Champion will be eyeing an international medal for his collection. 

Hungary’s sole representative David Daniel Komar is expected to perform after establishing himself regionally. The Hungarian fighter is a BJJ purple belt and is very sharp with his striking. He could be a dark horse in this division stacked with renowned contenders.

Overall, this looks like it could be the most exciting World Championships yet. The featherweight division tends to fill up quickly due to the demand and never fails to deliver. A full division of 32 fighters means that we could see plenty of upsets and who knows, maybe we could even see a new fighter rise to the occasion. Or perhaps an IMMAF stalwart could stake their claim at the top. 

The full list of senior featherweight entries is as follows.


Afrim Thaqi – Norway

Ali Yaqoob – Bahrain

Anas Hamdaoui – Austria

Anatoliy Zolotykh – Kazakhstan 

Bakhtiyor Husainov – Tajikistan 

Bekzat Zhassiya – Kazakhstan 

Damien McKenna – Northern Ireland 

Daniel Mitchell – Australia 

Daniele Caldarera – Italy 

Daniyal Shamkhalov – Sweden 

David Camacho – United States 

David Daniel Komar – Hungary 

Elias Dagher – Lebanon 

Erai Watanabe – French Polynesia 

Gerardo Quintana – Mexico 

Guilherme Andrade – Portugal 

Juan Izquierdo – Spain 

Kenirujan Suthakaran – England 

Konstantin Moksin – Lithuania 

Kurban Zainukov – Russia 

Lenin Prakash – India 

Marek Medovarski – Slovakia 

Michal Musial – Poland 

Min-Soo Song – Germany 

Miro Honkanen – Finland 

Moshe Aladi – Israel 

Nathanial Komana – South Africa 

Oleksandr Kovalenko – Ukraine 

Reo Yamaguchi – Japan 

Ryan Keogh – Ireland 

Saeed Alhosani – United Arab Emirates 

Teerouven ( Jeslen ) Latchmanan – Mauritius

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022. All the information regarding the event can be found on My Next Match.

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De Sousa faces a tough task in the hunt for a second World Title Thu, 13 Jan 2022 21:22:49 +0000

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By James Eakin

As the IMMAF Amateur MMA World Championships draw ever closer, we take a look at some of the returning athletes and rising stars who will be looking to take home gold for their country in the Women’s Featherweight division. 

One of the key athletes to watch at this year’s championships is current IMMAF number one, Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa. De Sousa won the gold at the World Championships in 2019 with a first-round armbar submission against Italy’s Jasmine Favero and will look to retain her spot at the top of the pile this year.

A bout that would hold real tension and interest is a rematch with New Zealand’s Michelle Montague. De Sousa and Montague took on each other at the IMMAF European Championships, with De Sousa coming out on top with the decision win. Montague, who previously dominated the Lightweight division, winning gold at the World Championships in 2019 will be seeking redemption and will be even more motivated to avenge her loss to the current champion and prove herself the best amateur female Featherweight. Another clash between these two divisional titans will certainly bring the fireworks to this year’s World Championships.

Another key figure to watch at this year’s event is the third-ranked Cecilie Bolander. The Norwegian athlete won gold for her country at the 2021 IMMAF World Cup in Prague and will be looking to improve on her previous victories and take home the world title in Abu Dhabi. Due to the absence of De Sousa and Montague from the World Cup, Bolander easily dominated the Featherweight division and established herself as a serious contender for the title at the World Championships. It will be fascinating to see how Bolander fairs against arguably two of the best amateur female Featherweights in De Sousa and Montague should their paths cross in the competition. Bolander remains undefeated through three amateur bouts and will be looking to protect her perfect win streak this year.

Nina Kharinova will be looking to bounce back from the only loss of her amateur career at the World Championships. She, like Montague, failed to defeat Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa at the last IMMAF World Championships, but before her decision loss was a perfect 3-0 at the 2021 Russian MMA Championships. Currently ranked at number 25 in the official IMMAF Senior Female Featherweight rankings, she will be out for revenge, and will surely be hoping to meet De Sousa again to get back the only blemish on an otherwise clean slate.

11th ranked Featherweight, Marianna Skuba of Ukraine will be seeking to get herself in the win column for the first time in her young career. Her loss to Cecilie Bolander at the World Cup in Prague will have lit a fire underneath her and will drive her forward into this year’s event and she will be hungry for gold.

The full list of entries for the Women’s Senior Featherweight division is as follows: 

Nina Kharinova – Russia 

Michelle Montague – New Zealand

Katerina Lisova – Czech Republic

Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa – Bahrain

Marianna Skuba – Ukraine

Cecilie Bolander – Norway

Andrea Guzman – Mexico

Zhansaya Yermagambetova – Kazakhstan

Iris Nihti – Finland

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from the 24th to the 29th January 2022. All the information regarding the event can be found on My Next Match.

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2016 IMMAF World Championships Highlights – Women’s MMA Shines Thu, 13 Jan 2022 21:20:48 +0000

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By Jake Smith

For our second look back at previous World Championships, we take a look at The 2016 World Championships that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The tournament featured a number of competitors who went on to compete at the upper echelon of professional mixed martial arts. 

Sweden’s Cornelia Holm claimed Bantamweight gold at the championships. On her way to the top of the podium, she defeated Michelle Jones, Arziko Bregu and Camilla Mannes in dominating performances by way of unanimous decisions. In a remarkable series of events, Holm once again faced Bregu & Mannes in her two bouts at the 2017 European Championships!

Although losing out in the final, Camilla Mannes showed her great potential, submitting a debuting Manon Fiorot in the first round before handing Katarzyna Biegajło her first loss.

IMMAF veteran Julia Dorny earned a silver medal at the tournament. In what would go on to be her third of seven entries to IMMAF events. Dorny made it to the final only to be defeated by Leah McCourt. She would find herself with two gold medals two years later, being crowned champion at the European & World Championships.

Leah ‘The Curse’ McCourt has had a meteoric rise since her Featherweight Gold at the 2016 Worlds. The Northern Irish sensation, defeated Yvonne Chow, Taryn Conklin and Julia Dorny in emphatic style, finishing all three contests within the first round. Since turning over to the professional ranks, McCourt has gone from strength to strength; currently ranked #4 and #9 in the women’s featherweight and pound-for-pound rankings, respectively. ‘The Curse’ will face fellow IMMAF Alumni Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 275, in what will be one of the biggest domestic fights in Irish MMA history.

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FMMAF successfully host inaugural French Amateur MMA Championships Thu, 13 Jan 2022 20:51:44 +0000

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By James Eakin

This past weekend saw a historic first French Amateur MMA Championships take place at the Gymnase Francois Mauriac in the town of Evry. The 3-day event was originally scheduled to take place between the 16th and 18th of December 2021, but due to the vast number of competitors was moved to the first month of 2022 to accommodate the athletes. The 

In order to participate in this landmark event, French athletes had to first complete a grading assessment, of which between three to four hundred participants succeeded in passing, granting them access to the tournament. Due to restrictions regarding Covid-19, each athlete was only allowed one coach, while family and friends were not allowed to attend. After receiving fantastic support from the host city as well as government sporting representatives, the event went ahead with resounding success.

Alongside the athletes, coaching staff and regulatory officials, representatives from promotions such as the UFC and Bellator were in attendance, alongside journalists from French sports magazine L’Equipe and representatives from the French Boxing Federation (FF Boxe). Of the hundreds of athletes that took part, nine French champions were crowned across multiple divisions. Here are the results:

Women’s category – Flyweight (56.7 KG) 

Gold – Mathilde Aschenbrenner (NrFight Paris)

Men’s category – Flyweight (56.7 KG)

Gold – Samir Ben Belkacem (Kerner Team)

Men’s category – Bantamweight (61.2 KG)

Gold – Souhel Arezki (NrFight Paris)

Men’s category – Featherweight (65.8 KG)

Gold – Adel Khaldoum (La Bonne Ecole)

Men’s category – Lightweight (70.3 KG)

Gold – Benoit Prigent and Arnaud Prigent (Nr Fight Paris)

Men’s category – Welterweight (77.1 KG)

Gold – Mohamed Baillot (Team Imana)

Men’s category – Middleweight (83.9 KG)

Gold – Nelson Kassende 

Men’s category – Light Heavyweight (93 KG)

Gold – Anthony Nantois (Snake Team)

Men’s category – Heavyweight (120 KG)

Gold – Nell Ariano (Team Platinum)

Five of these newly crowned champions will be making their way to Abu Dhabi at the end of the month for the IMMAF Amateur MMA World Championships. Representing France will be:

Mathilde Aschenbrenner – Sr. Flyweight (56.7 KG)

Souhil Arezki – Jr. Bantamweight (61.2 KG)

Arnaud Prigent – Sr. Lightweight (70.3 KG)

Anthony Nantois – Sr. Light Heavyweight (93 KG)

Nell Ariano – Sr. Heavyweight (120 KG)

All these athletes will be looking to claim their spot at the top of the pile in Abu Dhabi and will hope to bring home historic first world championships medals for the country of France. The 2022 World Championships will be broadcast live via IMMAF.TV from the 24th of January.

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CABMMA welcome Nogueira brothers to lead Brazil at IMMAF World Championships Thu, 13 Jan 2022 18:06:14 +0000

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By Jorden Curran

Brazil is set to return to the IMMAF World Championships for the first time since 2018 and with the nation’s largest squad of athletes to date after developments saw the Brazilian MMA Commission and IMMAF member, CABMMA, welcome assistance from MMA icons Rogerio ‘Minotouro’ Nogueira and brother Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Nogueria.

Ahead of the upcoming IMMAF World Championships, set for 24-29 January in Abu Dhabi, IMMAF representatives held meetings with CABMMA to discuss the hurdles that Brazil’s amateur MMA talents face when it comes to regularly participating at the international level and how the sustained prominence of Brazil on the IMMAF stage could be assured for future IMMAF championships. 

The discussions resulted in CABMMA’s leadership delegating team development for the 2021 IMMAF World Championships to CBMMAD and the organisation’s president, Rogerio Nogueira, with plans to review and assess possibilities for a new long-term team development process after this year’s event. With just weeks to go until the World Championships registration deadline, CBMMAD hosted national qualifying bouts to select who would represent Brazil at the prestigious IMMAF Worlds.

CABMMA director, Cristiano Sampaio, commented:

“CABMMA’s focus has always been on the safety of the fighters. On the pro level, we believe we have accomplished our goals after a decade of hard work, leaving the “Vale Tudo” behind and transforming the sport in Brazil into MMA. Regarding the amateur scenery, as a member of IMMAF since 2012, we believe we can do so much more, giving other sport entities in the country an opportunity to also achieve what we truly feel should be the best for the young and upcoming athletes. For this Worlds, as decided by CABMMA and IMMAF, we delegated the mission to CBMMAD, to be responsible for the national team and operations. We wish them good luck in Abu Dhabi and great success on the team members.”

In past years Brazil has produced two world gold medallists under the banner of the IMMAF World Championships with titles captured by current professional standouts, Michele Oliveira, and top 10 ranked UFC strawweight contender, Amanda Ribas. The Nogueira brothers were present as guests at the 2016 IMMAF World Championship in Las Vegas where they presented medals for the women’s bantamweight division (pictured). 

This year, Team Brazil will be accompanied in Abu Dhabi by head coach Vander Valverde and former Pride and UFC heavyweight champion, Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira. The 8 athletes representing Team Brazil will include: 

Junior Championships (U21)

Ethiene Alayde Pereira – women’s jr strawweight – age 18

Ana Vitoria Diniz – women’s jr featherweight – age 20

Breno Yuri Santos – men’s jr featherweight – age 19

Senior Championships (18+)

Juan Pablo Oliveira – men’s strawweight – age 21

Giulliany Perea – women’s flyweight – age 29

Josiane Oliveira – women’s bantamweight – age 34

Geovanis Carreras Palacios – middleweight – age 25

Caio Sardella – super heavyweight – age 21

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022. All the information regarding the event can be found on My Next Match.

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IMMAF 2015 World Championship Highlights Wed, 12 Jan 2022 11:21:21 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

The 2021 IMMAF World Championships are just around the corner. From 24-29 January, the best amateur mixed martial artists in the world will battle it out in Abu Dhabi.

Whilst this year’s tournament will showcase a plethora of exciting talent, it’s essential to look back on the athletes that have paved the way for the next generation. Hence the reason why we’re reminiscing over the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Which athletes really made an impact at the tournament?

Jose Torres (USA) – Bantamweight

Going into the event, ‘Shorty’ was looking to make a statement by becoming the first fighter in IMMAF history to achieve back-to-back gold medal status. The Chicago based competitor utilised his karate style and supreme submission game to dismantle his opponents en route to his second number one finish on the podium. Since turning professional, he has fought in the UFC and set the world alight in Titan FC, where he established himself as their first-ever champ-champ.

Micol Di Segni (Italy) – Flyweight

Having finished second in 2014, the Italian returned the following year with a point to prove. Her sublime skillset shone through as she blasted away her competition. She may have been too inexperienced to claim the gold medal in the previous tournament. But this time, Di Segni was more than ready. She defeated Anja Saxmark to strike gold. Since her historic victory, she has turned professional and accumulated an excellent 9-3 record, appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series in the process.

Saeid Mirzaei (Canada) – Light Heavyweight

‘The Prince of Persia’ was nothing short of phenomenal throughout the championships. The 6ft 2 powerhouse completed two submissions and landed a beautiful knockout blow to annihilate all of his opponents inside of the opening round. Since turning over to the professional ranks, the Canadian has been riddled with bad luck. He has only fought three times in five years, amassing a 2-0-1 record with his last five outings cancelled. Although he must be frustrated, his talent is evident.

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Pasha Kharkhachaev aims to retain Super-Heavyweight seniority a World Championships Wed, 12 Jan 2022 11:18:37 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

Super Heavyweight sensation, Pasha Kharkhachaev, has ruled the roost in the division since 2018. Therefore, many fans expect the dynamic striker to emerge victorious in this year’s tournament in Abu Dhabi.

His supreme sambo background and ground-breaking punching power have provided the perfect ingredients to create one of the most devastating fighters on the planet. There isn’t a man alive who can say he’s defeated the Asian, and there aren’t too many who can even claim to have gone the distance.

Pasha is currently 8-0 with six of his contests finishing inside the scheduled distance. His walk-off knockouts are becoming almost reminiscent of Mark Hunt as he continues to impress the world with his incredible showings.

He initially captivated MMA enthusiasts in the final of his first IMMAF tournament. He took on Grigoriy Ponomarev in what was expected to be a close affair. Pasha wanted to make a statement – and in less than a round he did. A thunderous left hook detonated on his Russian opponent’s chin. Ponomarev was out before he hit the ground.

The following year, Pasha continued his rise as he picked up the European and Asian Open titles. In addition, he also emerged victorious at the 2019 World Championships.

During the 2021 IMMAF World Cup, Bahrain secured their 100th medal. The country is drowning in talent, but many believe that their super heavyweight could be the best of the lot. His full potential is yet to be realised, and we don’t know if anyone is capable of relieving him from his place on the throne. However, several fighters are desperate to prove that Pasha is merely reserving their position as the rightful King of the Division.

In his last run to gold medal success, the powerhouse came across the tough Shamsutdin Makhmudov. And although the Russian was incapable of beating the reigning champion, he became the first man to avoid being taken out by the Bahrani’s heavy hands. That consultation prize may be enough to engulf the super heavyweight with a sense of confidence. He’ll be desperate for another opportunity to fight Pasha, and should he get it, he’ll put it all on the line in the cage.

However, potentially the biggest threat to the Bahranian’s reign in the world’s heaviest weight class is a man who has also beaten Makhmudov. Murad Dzhamaldinov has dismantled a who’s who of Russian amateur mixed martial artists, and if the emergence of talent from the country is anything to go by, that’s a pretty impressive achievement. The 27-year-old will be competing in his first World Championships in Abu Dhabi. And if the Russian can transfer his current form into the massive event, he could potentially be the man to end Pasha’s run.

In addition, Puerto Rico’s Anthony Ramirez is also making his debut at an IMMAF event. The 33-year-old known as ‘Big Papi’ has accumulated a 3-0 record during his amateur career to date. Therefore, the Illinois based fighter is yet to taste defeat, and he won’t expect to experience this sensation anytime soon. Beating Pasha will require a massive amount of mental strength, and Ramirez has that. He trains out of the esteemed Midwest training centre and will look to implement his coaches game plans in the UAE.

Other newcomers of note are Brazil’s Caio Sardella and Lebanon’s Michel Zammar. Training out of Team Nogueira, Sardella is an exciting newcomer that is a high-level BJJ practitioner, winning countless medals in Brazil. 

Zammar is another with a high-level background in a specific discipline. The Lebanese fighter is a multi-time World Champion in Sanda, not to mention a National Champion in Muay Thai. Although it’s yet to be seen how these two fighters will fare on the IMMAF stage, they are certainly prospects to keep an eye on.

This year’s tournament is expected to be the most exciting in IMMAF history. In 2020 the championships were unable to go ahead due to Covid-19 restrictions meaning the athletes have eagerly waited for their opportunity to prove themselves. Pasha is a ferocious fighter regardless, so to have him worked up for two years surely can’t be a good thing for the rest of the field.

He’s by far and away the man to beat in the competition, which begins on January 24th. His incredible ability to deliver various striking techniques in the manner of a man half his size is nothing short of miraculous. But like MMA enthusiasts have been reminded of countless times in the past – no man is unbeatable.

The entries for the Super Heavyweight Division are as follows.

Anthony Ramirez – Puerto Rico 

Caio Sardella – Brazil

Ikhtiyor Khalmuradov – Uzbekistan

John Campayne – Guyana

Michel Zammar – Lebanon 

Murad Dzhamaldinov – Russia 

Pasha Kharkhachaev – Bahrain 

Rassul Khatayev – Kazakhstan 

Shamsutdin Makhmudov – Russia 

Sultan Adil – United Arab Emirates 

Talgat Zhiyentayev – Kazakhstan

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022. All the information regarding the event can be found on My Next Match.

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Rising Star De Sousa Prepares for Title Defence at IMMAF Worlds Wed, 12 Jan 2022 11:15:53 +0000

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Bahrain’s featherweight sensation Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa cemented her reputation as one of IMMAF’s rising stars with a flawless gold medal campaign at the 2021 European Open Championship held last August in Kazan, Russia.

The reigning IMMAF world featherweight women’s champion powered past her rivals to secure three straight unanimous decision victories and capture her second amateur title, putting the division on notice that her 2019 World Championship triumph was no fluke.

“After getting gold in the 2019 Worlds, I knew everyone wanted to see me fight again, and finally, I could show more of my style during the European Championship,” De Sousa says.

“I was very happy with the feedback from IMMAF and to be able to fight again, feel that adrenaline coming in before stepping into the cage.”

The 21-year-old De Sousa is still not even close to reaching her full potential as an athlete, and her hunger to succeed sees the native Brazilian spend hours analysing footage as she works to ensure that she remains one step ahead of the chasing pack.

“I like to rewatch my fights a million times. I try to be a very tough critic of myself, trying to see where I could improve, what I could do better. And not only that, but I also picture me fighting against myself, which I think helps me to evolve and find new things to improve on,” she says.

“I also see what I do well, my qualities, and how to build upon that. The idea is to always be evolving.”

The start of a new year brings with it fresh challenges, and De Sousa’s focus now lies squarely on defending her featherweight crown at the 2021 IMMAF World Championships, scheduled to run from 24-29 January in Abu Dhabi.

“Preparation is very intense. I’ve started my camp in Brazil, but now I will continue in Bahrain with my KHK team. I’m not pressured. I’m very excited to be fighting again as a reigning champion and ready to showcase my best version,” she explains.

“I’ve been trying to improve my game, and I’m sure I’ll be able to show new things that people have yet to see from me. I’m looking forward to the event, for sure.”

The IMMAF women’s featherweight division is rich with talent. De Sousa’s path to gold in Russia saw her defeat reigning world lightweight champion Michelle Montague — who made the switch to featherweight— in the semi-final and the determined Pole Sara Jóźwiak in what turned out to be a memorable final.

However, she knows the stakes will be higher at the world championships and expects the level of competition from the likes of Montague and Jóźwiak to be even fiercer in Abu Dhabi.

“The featherweight division has a lot of tough and strong girls. It’s funny because you have to grow with each fight, come back stronger and better,” she says.

“The girls are always improving, and the level keeps getting higher as you progress in the bracket, so in the finals, it’s always a war. I expect the best out of all the girls in my bracket, and my preparation is built upon that notion. I never expect easy fights.”

In her corner in Abu Dhabi will be her Bahraini teammates. The Rio de Janeiro native has found a second home for herself at KHK MMA, where the team trains and thrives both in and out of the gym.

 “That feeling of always looking to do your best is the best thing about Bahraini culture. I’m always evolving as a person, and I learn a lot from everyone in my KHK team, not only as a fighter but as a human being as well,” she says.

After being introduced to Team Bahrain by her then kickboxing trainer Rafael Vinicius, De Sousa made the life-altering decision to move her life to the other side of the world in her quest to become the best fighter she could be. It is a decision that she has never regretted, and her results speak for themselves.

“In 2022, I want to remain as the best, and I know that it will take a lot of hard work, which I’m ready to do. I want to add new weapons to my game, and I want to surprise my opponents each time I go out there, and I’m looking forward to having new opportunities in the new year.”

Team Bahrain’s head coach Eldar Eldarov has seen more than his fair share of talent during his time in MMA. In his eyes, De Sousa has all the tools needed to not only continue her reign as the No.1 pound-for-pound IMMAF women’s fighter but to also successfully cross over to the professional ranks when the time is right.

“Sabrina is the real example of the new MMA generation. She is good everywhere—striking, grappling; we are working on improving her wrestling skills. I see the brightest future for her. I think Sabrina will become the number one pound-for-pound fighter as a professional as well.”

De Sousa’s immediate family won’t be cage-side in Abu Dhabi, but despite the distance, she carries their support with her each time she steps foot inside the cage.

“My family is always excited to see me in action; they’re very nervous too. After each fight, I call them and get that energy from them to lead me into the next day of battle. “

Watch the 2021 IMMAF World Championships streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

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Lithuania’s team keen to make an impact in Abu Dhabi Wed, 12 Jan 2022 11:13:22 +0000

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The Lithuanian Mixed Martial Arts Federation are aiming to impress in their maiden IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi.

Four athletes will represent the nation & although none of them have frequented IMMAF events, the athletes are no strangers to combat sports success.

Lijana Lipinskaitė featured at the 2021 IMMAF World Cup – Prague, in which she took a bronze medal. Heading into the World Championships she is hoping for a position even higher on the podium. She said: “Every practice requires a lot of effort, endurance, and psychological strength in preparation for the world championship. Pandemic didn’t bother me at all, because I’m a stubborn athlete and I have found ways to train at home.

“Even during the pandemic, there was no obstacle to continue my training for competitions and win: in Vilnius, Lithuania grappling championship where I won a belt and I also won first place in pankration competition. In my opinion, every athlete always wants to be a champion, because it’s the main goal for all of us. I have never considered that I’m better than other athletes, but I work really hard, always pursue my goals and give the best of myself for sport.“

Konstantin Moksin is the longest serving LMMAF member in the squad. He, alongside Lipinskaitė, competed at the World Cup. Moksin is very much looking forward to representing his nation in the pinnacle event of global amateur MMA. “I am intensively preparing for the world championship. I don’t feel that the pandemic would have much influence for it. I’ve been an athlete for many years, I became the MMA Champion of the Baltic countries three times. I am extremely glad and honoured to be a part of Lithuanian team in the World Championship, especially because it is our first time in such a big event. I wish to inspire younger fighters to keep working hard and reach the best results in MMA world.”

Tomas Markus finds himself in arguably one of the toughest divisions in the tournament. The Welterweight division contains the likes of  Jovidon Mahmudov, Murad Guseinov and IMMAF pound for pound number 1 Ramazan Gitinov in the ranks. Markus feels the experience will be invaluable to his development and is looking forward to potentially testing himself against the best in the world: “I feel prepared for the championship. It is difficult to do more training than usual and to take more care of my diet but it’s definitely worth it. I am a Lithuanian MMA Champion of the year 2019.

“I wish to show high quality technique and intense fights with my opponents to become more experienced and to enjoy being a part of this event.”

Danielius Grebliunas has also been crowned champion at the Lithuania MMA Championship & now finds himself in a packed Middleweight division. Having already secured several national championships,  Grebliunas has a World Championship gold medal on his mind. “I started to prepare intensively 6 weeks prior to our trip to Abu Dhabi. I feel calm, keep trying to work on the technique and concentrate for the championship. Last year I performed very well in Lithuanian tournaments: became world champion of grappling, champion of Lithuanian Pakration and the champion of open Lithuanian MMA Championship. I always aspire to be the best, so this time I also wish to do everything to become a champion.”

Due to Covid restrictions, the athletes have had to adapt their training. After overcoming these hurdles, the  Federation believes they are in a position to make a statement. As Deimantė Smirnovaitė explained,they believe medals are not outside the realms of possibility. 

She said: “2021 actually was a tough year cause due to COVID restrictions there were periods when we could not organise our regular trainings, so the athletes had to keep training individually or at home. Beside all the difficulties we believe that our athletes are ready and well prepared for the world championship.

“We are glad to have an opportunity to take part in this championship. We hope to show beautiful fights, gain experience and wish to get at least two medals for our team.”

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IMMAF announces Athletes & Teams for 2021 Worlds Tue, 11 Jan 2022 11:50:36 +0000

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  • 529 athletes from 60 nations
  • 24 – 29 January 2022 – Abu Dhabi
  • Watch live on

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has announced the provisional list of athletes and national teams for its 2021 IMMAF World Championships heading to Abu Dhabi for 24 to 29 January 2022.

Hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, with the support of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and in partnership with Palms Sports, the senior and junior nations tournaments are to take place at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City, near UFC Fight Island (Yas Island). The event will the broadcast live globally on

529 athletes from 60 nations have registered to compete in IMMAF’s first World Championships in two years, after COVID-19 put a stop to competition in 2020. Returning medallists and new upcoming talent has made its mark this year at the IMMAF European Championships and World Cup Prague, establishing compelling rivalries expected to play out at the Worlds.

See list of athletes by national team

See list of athletes by weight division

Registered athletes now need to pass medical preclearance, IMMAF’s eligibility process and pre-event weigh-ins to be entered into the tournament draw on 23 January, when the finalised list of competitors and first day matches will be announced.

IMMAF Rising Stars identified for fans as talent to watch at the World Championships are Michelle Montague (NZL), Sabrina Laurentina de Sousa (BAH), Ramazan Gitinov (BAH), Bagdat Zhubanysh (KAZ), Magadalena Czaban (POL), Hazem Kayyali (JOR) and Kiya O’Sullivan (IRE)

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“We are excited to be back in the Middle East, which is a fast-growing hub for MMA with sports authorities serious about developing the grassroots and amateur levels of the sport. It is a privilege to be working with the UAEMMAF and Palm Sports to deliver what will no doubt be stellar event. Based on the competitiveness and hunger shown by IMMAF athletes through 2021 and the notable maturation of talent, the 2021 IMMAF World Championships promises elite level sportsmanship in compelling match-ups not to be missed by fans.”

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Spectacular Strawweight Division Set To Impress at World Championships Tue, 11 Jan 2022 11:46:06 +0000

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By Jake Smith

A World Cup champion, three 2021 European open medalists and a stack of top talent, the Female Strawweight division is shaping up to be one of the most competitive weight classes at the 2021 World Championships. 

With the two top-ranked women in the division and familiar faces such as Anna Gaul and Nina Back missing from the tournament; the door is open for a new star to be born in Abu Dhabi. Whether a former medalist adds another to their collection, or an IMMAF debutant delivers on the biggest amateur MMA stage there is, the Strawweight division will no doubt deliver some fantastic contests during the Championships. 

Inaugural World Cup Gold medalist Josefine Modig is yet to lose a bout at an IMMAF tournament. The young Swede proved she was the real deal in her three outings at the World Cup. Constant movement, heavy striking & a fight IQ way beyond her experience would suggest, Modig enters the Championships as one of the favourites to medal. The biggest scalp of her career, so far, undoubtedly came in the final of the tournament when she beat fellow countrywomen and multiple IMMAF medalist, Nina Back in dominant fashion.

Kazakhstan’s Ayan Tursyn drew attention to herself at the 2021 European Championships. On her way to claiming the silver medal, Tursyn’s slick striking style earned many plaudits throughout the competition. Along with finding herself on the podium, she also claimed one of the most memorable knockouts in IMMMAF history; when she delivered a devastating spinning back fist in the tournament semi-final.

Bahrain’s Aieza Ramos Bertolsowill be keen to add a World Gold to her 2021 European Gold medal and while riding a six-fight win streak, she could be in pole position to do so. Currently finding herself ranked number three in the IMMAF rankings, a medal in Abu Dhabi could take her to the top of the 115lbs division. She could even break into the top 15 in the IMMAF pound for pound rankings. 

Along with the IMMAF medalists, there are plenty of IMMAF debutantes who could look to upset the applecart. Russian Diana Naydenova enters her first tournament with an unblemished 4-0-0 record after cruising to victory at the Russian Championship. Although her first IMMAF tournament, Kelly Staddon is no stranger to the IMMAF level of competition, having recently defeated 2019 IMMAF Junior European Silver Medalist Shannon Troup in December 2021. 

The division will see 15 athletes, all selected to represent their nation, compete over the 5 days at the IMMAF 2021 World Championships, which can be streamed live on

Full list of Women’s Strawweight Competitors:

Martina Corradi (Italy)
Ayan Tursyn (Kazakhstan)
Aieza Ramos Bertolso (Bahrain)

Fabiola Silva (Bahrain)
Yelyzaveta Shakula (Ukraine)
Josefine Modig (Sweden)
Nora Ochoa (Mexico)
Janika Antinmaa (Finland)
Kelly Staddon (England)
Amanda Cairney (New Zealand)
Diana Naidenova (Russia)
Hayley Barraclough (Wales)
Altynay Mergenbay (Kazakhstan)
Anna Safeeva (Russia)
Barbara El Rassi (Switzerland)

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BRAVE CF launches IMMAF Nations ‘MMA Super Cup’ Tue, 11 Jan 2022 09:55:21 +0000

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  • at 2022 BRAVE International Combat Week 
  • 7 to 12 March 2022, Bahrain
  • Boasts largest prize money for an amateur MMA tournament
  • IMMAF President comments

BRAVE International Combat week will be, once again, the stage for a milestone for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. During a press conference held this Monday (10) in the Kingdom of Bahrain, it was announced that the 2022 BRAVE ICW will host the very first edition of the MMA Super Cup.

The MMA Super Cup is a new tournament promoted in association with KHK Sports, BRAVE CF, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), and the Bahrain Mixed Martial Arts Federation (BMMAF), with 8 teams competing for the title of best nation in the world and the largest prize money ever paid for an amateur MMA tournament.

The press conference announcing the launch of BICW 2022 took place at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, in Manama, and was held by KHK Sports CEO and BRAVE CF President Mohammed Shahid, IMMAF president Kerrith Brown, and the Bahrain MMA Federation Mohammed Qamber.

The participating teams were selected through the IMMAF Senior Global Rankings, with the spots being awarded to the six best ranked countries: Russia, Ukraine, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Ireland, and Tajikistan. They will be joined by two wildcards, the Balkan Champions and the Arab Champions, in the knockout tournament bracket.

Each team will be composed of 9 fighters (7 males and 2 females), one per weight class. Three alternates, or substitutes, two male athletes and one female, will also be allowed per team.

After the initial draw determining the quarter-finals, each round will consist of 9 bouts between two teams. Each fight will consist of 3, 3-minute rounds. No draws will be allowed, with extra rounds being added until one fighter is the winner if the match ends in a tie. The team with more wins after all fights will be declared the winner.

The four winners of the first round will meet in the semifinals and, finally, the two semifinal winners will compete in the grand final, for the MMA Super Cup trophy and a US$ 100,000 check. The runner-up team will take US$ 75,000 home and the winner of the third-place match will take US$ 50,000. The prize money will be directed to the investment of the respective national federations.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown thanked His Highness Shaikh Khaled bin Hamad, BRAVE CF President Mohammed Shahid and the Bahrain MMA Federation for their significant investment in and commitment to amateur MMA and talent development. He highlighted the huge potential of the new platform to inspire and further galvanise IMMAF’s national federations and teams, and the role of the ‘wild card’ spots in aiding elite talent from regions where the sport is less developed or where teams are not placing in the top rankings. He described the launch event as a ground-breaking pilot for a new format in MMA that he looked forward to developing in partnership with BRAVE.

The MMA Super Cup is the next step towards the vision of His Highness Shaikh Khaled bin Hamad al Khalifa of reforming the MMA industry, changing its landscape from an event-business to a sports-business under a new model and global regulation and governance.

BRAVE International Combat Week, and the inaugural MMA Super Cup, will take place in the Kingdom of Bahrain from March 7th (arrivals) to 12th (finals). The week-long festivities will include the first edition of the MMA Super Cup and BRAVE CF 57, the first card of the year for the truly global MMA promotion.

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World Cup standouts Sweden name a mix of veterans and newcomers for the World Championships Mon, 10 Jan 2022 12:22:00 +0000

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By Jake Smith

The Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation will be looking to continue their fine form at the IMMAF World Championships following their standout performances at the inaugural IMMAF World Cup back in September. 

In what ended up being a very successful tournament for the Federation, they found themselves on the podium 9 times; a feat which saw the Swedes soar to the top of the medal table with eye-catching performances.

Some of those successful athletes make up a part of their 14 athlete strong 2021 World Championships team, alongside athletes with varying amounts of IMMAF experience, from former world champions to IMMAF debutants. Team Captain, Anders Olssen, believes there is potential for the federation to claim more medals at the World Championships. He said:

“We have a solid team going to Abu Dhabi and the Worlds; Some veterans and some new athletes. Some of them I consider medal candidates for sure.”

Rising star Josefine Modig is coming in after her successful World Cup performance. And Featherweight hopeful Daniyal Shamkhalov is a hard fight for anybody.

“Sebbe Gonzalez is going for gold in his last amateur championship before turning pro. Daniel Karlsson is new to the team but I have big hopes for this guy, he can give the strong wrestling based nations something to chew on!”

“Champ champ Bezan is back in the team and she wants that triple champ. The veterans in the team are great for the newer athletes, they know how everything works and can share their experiences.”

“Yrsa Sandin is going for gold as usual, with a great chance of getting it!”

The last two years have been far from ideal in terms of MMA due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anders explained how Sweden navigated the issues to the best of their ability to continue the team’s development.

“2021 and 2020 were not the best years for our sport. Staying 2m apart and doing MMA is a hard equation to solve. 

“Sweden did not close down completely like many other countries. We were able to train in small groups. But of course, we could not train and meet up as usual. Everybody had to do a lot of training on their own.”

The pandemic also resulted in the federation having to change its selection process for the championships. 

“Usually we have The Swedish MMA League that ends up in the Swedish Nationals. #1 and #2 in each weight category are the ones going to the championships.”

“But we were unable to do the Nationals due to restrictions so we picked from the 2019 national crew together with athletes that have performed well during the year before. So not the usual procedure but we feel we had a strong team for the World Cup in Prague and now for the Worlds in Abu Dhabi.”

In terms of goals set ahead of the tournament, Anders would be overjoyed to win some medals but insists as long as the athletes perform to the best of their ability, he will be an extremely happy captain. 

“The Worlds are packed with talented fighters and it’s hard to go all the way to a medal. As long as everybody is performing at their maximum level I’m happy, but of course, we’re aiming for medals. A good result would be 3-5 medals, with this competition I would consider that successful.”

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Who Will Prevail in the Men’s Welterweight Division? Mon, 10 Jan 2022 12:20:24 +0000

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By Ross Patterson 

The men’s senior welterweight division promises to be extremely competitive at the World Championships in Abu Dhabi. Two athletes, Ramazan Gitinov and Murad Guseinov have dominated the division in recent years. However, there is no shortage of talent waiting to cause an upset and claim gold come January 24th. 

Ramazan Gitinov is the pound-for-pound #1 ranked athlete in the world. At 24 years old, he will be looking to secure his 3rd IMMAF World Championship gold medal. He’s currently on a 15-fight win streak, holding a record of 16-2. Representing Bahrain, Gitinov has been unstoppable. He’s a complete fighter, with sharp striking, fluid takedowns and a smothering ground game. The young athlete will be aiming to once again assert himself as the best amateur welterweight on the planet. 

However, looking to cause an upset will be fellow Bahraini, Murad Guseinov. Currently on a 9-fight win streak, with a record of 12-2, Guseinov has also looked unbeatable on his current form. Another well-rounded martial artist, Guseinov has looked dangerous striking, but is especially dominant while grappling.  Both Gitinov and Guseinov made it to the final of the European Championship in August of last year, but elected not to fight one another, leaving us all wondering who would have triumphed. If they are drawn against each other at the World Championships, it will be fascinating to see who prevails. 

But it won’t just be the Bahraini’s vying for the gold medal. The welterweight division is one of the most talent-rich in IMMAF. Evgeny Morozov, from Russia, won a bronze medal at the European Championship in August. He lost a decision to Gitinov, which he will be looking to avenge at the World Championships. With a record of 11-5, he undoubtedly has the skills to challenge for the top spot, but will he perform to his potential? 

Another man to keep an eye out for is Daniil Shirokov. Also a bronze medallist at the European Championships, Shirokov lost to Guseinov via an Anaconda choke. The 20-year-old Russian will be looking to further make a name for himself, and will surely aim to even the score against Guseinov should they meet. 

No.2 ranked Jovidon Mahmudov will also be out for more gold following his dominance at the World Cup. His sole loss came against Guseinov back in August.

And Teddy Stringer from England is an extremely impressive athlete who will be competing in Abu Dhabi. Stringer is the Almighty Fighting Championship Lightweight Champion and will certainly have his eye on the IMMAF podium. 

So, will we see the continued dominance of Bahrain? Will Gitnov once again prove himself the greatest pound-for-pound amateur athlete on the planet? Could Guseinov cause an upset and steal the gold medal from the favourite? Or is there a new champion waiting in the wings, just about to begin their reign as the new #1 welterweight in IMMAF? It’s all to play for in the 77kg division. Make sure you tune in on January 24th. 

The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

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Watch the French National Amateur MMA Championships Live at IMMAF.TV Fri, 07 Jan 2022 16:03:20 +0000

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WATCH the finals of the French National Amateur MMA Championships live and free-of-charge exclusively at this Sunday 9 January from 13:00hrs to 16:00hrs UTC/ 14:00hrs to 17:00hrs CET. [See schedule below].

Organised by the French MMA Federation and broadcast from Gymnase François Mauriac in Évry-Courcouronnes, the Championships serve as the selections for France’s national team for IMMAF international competitions through 2022. Kicking off with the postponed 2021 World Championships from 22 to 29 January in Abu Dhabi, IMMAF’s amateur nations tournaments will provide further competitive opportunities for the senior French team this year with the European Championships and 2022 World Championships.

Two notable French exports from the IMMAF platform are former gold medallist Manon Fiorot (UFC) and silver medallist Lucie Bertaud (Bellator, UAE Warriors, HMMA). The upcoming French Nationals will be the first selections held by the French MMA Federation (FMMAF) under the auspices of French boxing since the legalisation of the sport in France in 2020, and also the first national MMA championships on French soil. The FMMAF aims to continue developing rising stars in the sport through their national circuit and IMMAF’s international competition pathways.

IMMAF Board Director, Bertrand Amoussou, of France said:

“The first French MMA Championships represents a historic moment for our sport in France. I am proud of the groundwork put in by the former CFMMA [Commission Française de Mixed Martial Arts] and the IMMAF, with the support of the UFC, that enables the FMMAF today to take up the torch and offer what promises to be a stellar event. French MMA is officially on track, and this is what we have fought for all these years. I wish good luck to all the brave athletes, men and women, hoping to win their place on the French national team.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“With the full IMMAF Championships calendar resuming in 2022 we will be excited to welcome a French squad again, and this time one that comes with the support of its government and country, strengthened by the license to now to hold competitive selections.”

Provisional Schedule for French National Amateur MMA Championships

  • 14:00 CET/ 13:00 UTC : Female / U21 / U21+ / -56,7 kg
  • 14:15 CET/ 13:15 UTC : Male / U21/U21+ / -56,7 kg
  • 14:30 CET/ 13:30 UTC: Male / U21/U21+ / -61,2 kg
  • 14:45 CET/ 13:45 UTC: Male / U21/U21+ / -65,8 kg
  • 15:00 CET/ 14:00 UTC: Male / U21/U21+ / -70,3 kg
  • 15:15 CET/ 14:15 UTC: Male / U21/U21+ / -77,1 kg
  • 15:30 CET/ 14:30 UTC: Male / U21/U21+ / -83,9 kg
  • 15:45 CET/ 14:45 UTC: Male / U21/U21+ / -93,0 kg
  • 16:00 CET/ 15:00 UTC: Male / U21/U21+ / -120,2 kg

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IMMAF releases 2015 – 2019 Championships Highlights Programmes on YouTube Fri, 07 Jan 2022 15:59:36 +0000

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation is to release 2015 – 2019 Championships Highlight Programmes from its broadcast archive onto the IMMAF YouTube channel for a limited period only, until the end of January.

The documentaries chart the trajectory of top medals contenders through IMMAF Championship tournaments from across the weight divisions.

The programmes have broadcast across a range of TV channels globally including Fox Sports, BT Sport, Sky Sports, Extreme Sports Channel, POLSAT, Combat (Globosat), Eir Sport/ Setanta, SFR, Teleport Ru, Fight Network, Bahrain TV, Abu Dhabi TV and TV Sport 5.

Now, the IMMAF YouTube release gives MMA fans from all around the world the opportunity to watch (free-of-charge) earlier amateur matches of a host of IMMAF talent, including reigning champions and veterans now carving their way through the professional ranks, such as Muhammad Mokaev and Leah McCourt.

See the full release schedule below:

IMMAF 2015 World Championships Highlights (Tuesday, 11th January, 3pm UTC)

Men’s Bantamweight + Women’s Flyweight + Men’s Light Heavyweight episodes

Featuring Jose Torres (USA), Micol Di Segni (Italy) and Saeid Mirzaei (Canada).

IMMAF 2016 World Championships Highlights (Thursday, 13th January, 3pm UTC)

Women’s Bantamweight + Featherweight episodes

Featuring Cornelia Holm (Sweden), Camilla Mannes (Norway), Leah McCourt (Northern Ireland), Julia Dorny (Germany)

IMMAF 2016 World Championships Highlights (Saturday, 15th January, 5pm UTC)

Men’s Welterweight episode

Featuring Will Starks (USA), Alexander Martinez (Canada), Hardeep Rai (UK), Cian Cowley (Ireland).

IMMAF 2017 World Championships Highlights (Monday, 17th January, 3pm UTC)

Men’s Heavyweight + Women’s Lightweight episode

Featuring Irman Smajic (Sweden), Ryan Spillane (Ireland), Gase Sanita (New Zealand), Kaycee Blake (UK)

IMMAF 2018 World Championships Highlights (Wednesday, 19th January, 3pm UTC)

Featuring Jenni Kivioja (Finland), Badgat Zhubanysh (Kazakhstan), Sola Axel (France)

IMMAF 2019 World Championships Highlights (Friday, 21st January, 3pm UTC)

Featuring Wesley Bailes (USA), Ramazan Gitinov (Bahrain), Sabrina De Sousa (Bahrain), Reo Yamaguchi (Japan), Muhammad Mokaev (England), Michelle Montague (New Zealand)

Further IMMAF programming including upcoming live events and archive matches footages can be found only at

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Ireland aims to repeat Prague success by selecting strong team for the World Championships Fri, 07 Jan 2022 10:08:42 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

The Irish team for the Junior & Senior World Championships has been announced. Following a hugely successful appearance at the IMMAF World Cup event in Prague last year, the All-Ireland team are set to build on their 2021 medal tally. The team was selected by the IMMAA coaching team and athletes were chosen based on their performances at IMMAF/IMMAA events throughout last year. 

At Junior Lightweight, Max Lally is making his first tournament appearance after graduating from the youth ranks. He won Welterweight gold at the Youth World Championships before going on a sensational regional run in Ireland. The four-fight run included titles at two separate weight classes, making him one of the most talked-about amateurs in Ireland. 

Facing Lally in the Youth World Championship final was fellow countryman Jordan Scully who retained his spot in the squad. The young fighter will make his first junior appearance in the Welterweight division.

Senior Featherweight Gold medalist, Ryan Keogh is also returning. Back in August, he finished all four of his fights en route to gold. His impressive year recently earned the accolade of SBG HQ amateur fighter of the year. His wrestling and grappling ability was sensational and stood out from the crowd at the World Cup. He is in a very tough division so fans can expect to watch some incredible fights. 

The Female fighters coming out of Ireland have been some of the more exciting in recent years. 8 female fighters will feature for Ireland at the upcoming tournament. Junior Flyweight World Cup winner Kiya O’Sullivan returns to continue her development through the IMMAF ranks. This will be her second tournament at Junior after making the jump from the Youth categories in 2021. 

Another one to keep an eye on will be Kerry Ann Vernon. She returns on the back of an impressive debut tournament that saw her score a huge KO in the World Cup semi-final. 

Speaking with ahead of the tournament, Team Ireland Head Coach, Andy Ryan expressed his excitement to return to the World Championships and for Ireland to take home some medals.

“We’re super excited to be back at the IMMAF Worlds. We have a strong young team travelling with some senior experienced coaching staff. The level has improved over the last few years. It’s going to be a big challenge but we are ready for it. It looks like this could be the biggest world championships to date. It’s a great event to start the year. We’re really looking forward to it and bringing some medals home.”

Due to the high number of applications for the tournament the Irish team were unable to enter all selected members. Therefore, the team has four members selected that are on reserve in case space in the tournament frees up. The four reserves are – Stephen Purcell (Senior Male Bantamweight), Lewis Byrne (Senior Male Featherweight), Paddy Moran (Senior Male Lightweight) and Daniel O’ Sullivan (Senior Male Middleweight). 

The full Irish squad confirmed for the tournament is as follows: 

Junior FemaleAthleteGym
FlyweightKiya O’SullivanCMAC
FlyweightEabha CruiseSBG HQ
BantamweightSinead Ni NuallainSBG HQ
Junior MaleAthleteGym
FlyweightKian McCartonSBG HQ
FeatherweightLiam HandHMA
FeatherweightDean LoweSBG Clonmel
LightweightMax LallySBG Naas
WelterweightJordan ScullySBG Tullamore
Senior FemaleAthleteGym
AtomweightNadine AbbottTeam Ryano
AtomweightCaitlyn HadfieldTeam Ryano Causeway
FlyweightMegan HamillSBG HQ
FlyweightSarah CarneyHMA
BantamweightKerry Ann VernonSBG Cork
Senior MalesAthleteGym
FlyweightJamie AbbottTeam Ryano
FlyweightGary RooneySBG HQ
FlyweightEoghan TeagueTR OMMA
BantamweightTaylor QuinnTeam Ryano
FeatherweightRyan KeoghSBG HQ
FeatherweightDamien McKennaTR OMMA
LightweightSolomon SimonTeam Ryano Waterford
WelterweightAdam McEnroeHMA
WelterweightCameron ClementsTeam Ryano OMMA
WelterweightEthan GuerinSBG Cork
MiddleweightPaul BuckleyMMA Cork  

Team Ireland Coaching Staff accompanying the squad will be – Head Coach Andy Ryan, John Kavanagh, Liam-Og Griffin, Marlene Griffin, Arann Maguire, Bobby Meade, Paddy Holohan, Alexander O Sullivan, Sergey Pikulskiy, Gerry Poltorak and Kieran Davern.

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Rising Star Montague Returns from Forced Life on the Road to Fight for World Title Thu, 06 Jan 2022 15:49:03 +0000

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From the moment she flew out from her homeland New Zealand to attend the European Championships in Russia, the second half of 2021 for IMMAF Rising Star Michelle Montague became a ‘whirlwind’.

The reigning IMMAF Lightweight World Champion underwent a series of challenges during this period that would have tested even the most seasoned professional fighter.  

It started with her traveling to Russia to compete without her usual coaching team due to the difficulties caused by New Zealand’s strict border controls. Next, during the tournament, Montague found herself battling an injury. Then, just as she was preparing to head home Michele discovered she would need to extend her overseas adventure, due to a recent Covid outbreak in New Zealand, which saw the borders closed for all returnees except emergency cases.

The difficulties Montague faced would appear daunting to many, but “The Wild One” rolled with the punches, created opportunities out of adversity, and stayed focused on her overall objective of improving herself as a mixed martial artist.

Montague is currently back home preparing to compete at this month’s IMMAF World Championship in Abu Dhabi. Fortunately, this time, she will be traveling with the support of her coaches and a full contingent of her fellow Kiwis.

“To have this big group, and a lot of them I am super close with, but we’ve never gone and fought at the same event. So I am excited for that, ” she says. “To get over there and be together as a team, get our fights in, and support each other like the way we do at these events; everyone’s going to be super pumped.”  

The former Waikato Rugby representative will undoubtedly aim to improve on her bronze medal outing at the European Championships. Montague decided to switch from lightweight to featherweight and looked impressive in the opening round with a second-round stoppage win over Russia’s Elena Vetrova.

Unfortunately, Montague sustained an ankle injury during the bout, which she carried into her semi-final clash with Bahrain’s Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa — the division’s reigning world champion in the semi-final.

 On the morning of her matchup with De Sousa, the 28-year-old had a video chat with her team back in New Zealand, who put her through a series of exercises to determine if she would be able to compete.

 “Once I went into the other stance [orthodox], I could half make it happen. So they were like, ‘if you can push through the pain, you can go through with it,’ and I was like sweet, we’ll do it.” Montague explains.

“So we push through all of that and then obviously an opponent, you know, she [De Sousa] is really good and was ready for that no matter what. So, you know. it is what it is.”

Montague ended up losing to De Sousa via unanimous decision. It was the first loss of her career, but even in defeat, she demonstrated the mental and physical toughness that people have come to expect from her.

The upcoming World Championships could see a rematch between these two take place, and while Montague’s focus is on what she needs to do in Abu Dhabi, if the rematch did happen, she would welcome it with open arms.

” If it happens, it happens, that would be cool. I think we’re both exciting. We both hype people up, we hype each other up, and I think it would be quite a fun fight.”

While Montague was competing, the New Zealand government had, due to an outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta strain, implemented travel restrictions making it difficult for citizens outside of the country to return home. With her Russian visa due to expire in 24 hours, Montague, with the help of her “godsend” of a travel agent, secured flights to Florida, USA, where a friend of hers had a spare room.

The “Sunshine State” also happens to be home to one of the premier gyms in MMA, American Top Team. As a result, Montague spent three months in Florida, which enabled her to have the full ATT experience, which saw her training alongside the likes of PFL Featherweight Champion Kayla Harrison and under the guidance of ATT’s Mike Brown.

“The team at ATT were so awesome,” Montague says. “I mean, obviously, doing those sessions with Kayla and Mike was for me the most valuable part, all those extra reps and drills and all that we did. That there for me was probably one of the best takeaways.”

Montague’s Florida trip also saw further doors open for her, which may not have happened if she had flown home after the European Open.

” We had a couple of other opportunities pop up from that trip as well, and that stuff would never have happened if I hadn’t been stuck out. So honestly, I think it worked out for the better,” Montague explains.

After the unexpected cancellation of the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Kazakhstan, Montague found herself again experiencing visa issues. She could not stay in the USA but could not yet return to New Zealand until her spot in MIQ [Managed Isolation and Quarantine] opened up.

Fortunately, IMMAF president President Kerrith Brown and SBG Ireland’s John Kavanagh came up with a solution. Montague waved goodbye to sun kissed Florida and said hello to the Emerald Isle as she took up residence in the Irish capital of Dublin.

She was also was able to join the team at SBG while she was there, giving her insight into yet another of MMA’s most well-known gyms.

“That’s been amazing working with different personalities, different coaches, obviously all high-level coaches and gyms.”

After a year that was anything but plain sailing, Montague has big plans for 2022. At the moment, she is keeping her cards close to her chest about what comes after the World Championships, but whatever it is, adding another IMMAF gold to her credentials would consolidate her reputation as one of MMA’s hottest rising stars.

Watch the 2021 IMMAF World Championships streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

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Team South Africa aim to break into the World Top 10 Rankings again Thu, 06 Jan 2022 09:57:31 +0000

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By Ross Patterson

Team South Africa (MMASA) will be looking to make a statement at the IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi later this month, COVID restrictions permitting. They currently sit at 45th place on the National Team Rankings, but are aiming to break into the top 10 once again. 

The team is made up of 14 athletes, 2 coaches and a Team Manager. After Provincial trials, a National event was held where the final team was selected. Vuyo Jula is the only athlete from the 2019 World Championships who will be competing again this year, so Team South Africa  will have plenty of fresh talent to watch out for. 

Jason Brown, the Chief Executive of MMASA named some promising athletes including Nathanial Kamara, Allistar Kunene, Khaya Ntombela, Esteban Van Der Berg, Demi Van Zyl and Vuyo Jula. 

Another name to keep an eye on, not just for athletic ability, is Ethienne Reynecke. His story includes some incredible adversity, having suffered a gunshot wound and a stroke. He has taken these hardships and turned them into fuel, writing a book about his experience and now training with UFC athlete Dricus Du Plessis.

MMASA is recognised by the South African Sport Ministry, so has permission to proudly wear the national colours of South Africa in the Championships. 

South Africa has been making huge strides in women’s participation in MMA. Four female athletes are on the team this year, up from just 1 at the last outing, plus a female Team Manager. 

South Africa is currently on the UAE Covid Red List, which may make travel difficult but, if they make it to the World Championships, they will be fielding a dynamic, fresh team, and may well end up in the top 10 rankings once again.

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Lebanon heading to Abu Dhabi with Four returning athletes and an exciting new face Wed, 05 Jan 2022 09:27:38 +0000

The post Lebanon heading to Abu Dhabi with Four returning athletes and an exciting new face appeared first on IMMAF.


By Caoilte de Barre

After failing to secure a medal in their last World Championships appearance, Lebanon is back with a squad of five athletes hoping to add some silverware to the collection. This year’s squad will be familiar with each other since they are all teammates at Tristar Gym Lebanon. A gym that is home to a large number of emerging pros. 

Some familiar faces will be returning with only one new addition to the squad. Toni Bou Rached makes his second appearance on the grand stage after pushing the eventual winner, Murad Umachiev, to the distance. He has since featured on BRAVE CF’s undercard in an amateur bout. 

Elie Mansour is one of the ones to watch on this team. He’s dominated the regional scene and looked bright in his two bouts at the 2019 World Championships. His dominant win lined up saw him progress from the opening round. His luck ran out in the following round when he met Senior World Cup winner, Ivan Kurelaru.

The sole female entrant, Lama Nassar, will be entering the stacked senior flyweight division and will be aiming to be third time lucky in pursuit of victory. The most experienced competitor on the team, Elias Dagher will be making the switch back to Featherweight, ending his stint at Bantamweight.

The debuting fighter on the team is arguably the most exciting and maybe a dark horse in this division. Michel Zammar makes the highly anticipated switch to MMA at Super Heavyweight joining the division that Pasha Kharkhachaev has dominated since 2018. Zammar comes from a Sanda background. He’s got a Sanda World Championship and two Mediterranean gold medals to his name, not to mention the countless national accolades.

He’s also dabbled in Muay Thai, winning a national title too. In a division where one punch can end it all, his background could be the difference in him advancing through the rounds and hunting for yet another combat sports accolade.

The full team for Lebanon is as follows. 

Toni Bou Rached, Tristar Gym Lebanon – Sr. Lightweight

Elias Dagher, Tristar Gym Lebanon – Sr. Featherweight

Elie Mansour, Tristar Gym Lebanon – Sr. Welterweight

Lama Nassar, Tristar Gym Lebanon – Sr. Flyweight

Michel Zammar, Tristar Gym Lebanon – Sr. Super Heavyweight

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IMMAF is 10 years old! Mon, 03 Jan 2022 09:51:34 +0000

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This year, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), the governing body for amateur MMA, celebrates its 10th anniversary year.

Founded in February 2012 and supported by the UFC, IMMAF’s purpose is to further the development, recognition, and regulation of MMA (mixed martial arts) with the vision of one day seeing the sport as part of the Olympic Games. 

With a 7-year track record of organising nations Championships and 10 years developing the sport globally, IMMAF provides the platform for MMA’s next generation of athletes and rising stars. IMMAF’s membership today includes 120 National Federations worldwide, of which 49 are recognised by their National Olympic Committee or National Sports Authority.

In 2018, IMMAF merged with rival governing body the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA), also founded in 2012, and the amalgamated super-body held its first unified World Championships that same year. Between them, IMMAF and WMMAA have organised a total of 47 Championships across 31 cities and 5 continents to date.

IMMAF proudly saw 2021 close with the award of WADA Code signatory status from the World Anti-Doping Agency, following 6-years’ code compliance.

IMMAF’s application for recognition by the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF) remains in progress. The accolade would finally provide official recognition of MMA as a sport by the Olympic movement enabling national level governance, safeguarding and access to funding and professional services (such as medical and insurance) for participants of MMA globally.

Founding and Honorary President, August Wallen (Sweden), commented: “It makes me very proud to see how far IMMAF has come since its foundation which feels a lifetime away, but for a federation, ten years is a relatively short time and the advances we have made are incredible. I am also very happy that we have managed to sustain our momentum through the pandemic. I want to thank everyone who has contributed over the years, both for their effort to take us to where we are today and for believing in the vision.”

UFC Chief Operating Officer, Lawrence Epstein, said: “Under the UFC brand, mixed martial arts has become one of the most popular sports in the world, and in partnership with IMMAF, we hope to continue to grow its popularity for years to come.  In the past ten years, IMMAF has done a remarkable job of nurturing amateur mixed martial arts and marketing it on a grassroots level to develop a generational following. The role IMMAF plays in promoting higher safety and regulatory standards is just as important, as countries around the world adopt the sport and open it to local amateur competition. We are proud of what UFC and IMMAF have accomplished together over the past decade, and we look forward to continuing our partnership and supporting IMMAF in achieving even greater goals, such as securing MMA formal recognition as an Olympic sport.”

Original IMMAF Board Director and former President, Bertrand Amoussou (France), said: “The arrival of IMMAF has been a game changer for MMA in general and for amateur MMA in particular. Our sport needed to be built at its base. The rapid evolution of MMA and the growing interest of new practitioners called for the educational development of the discipline. And it is precisely this approach that has enabled MMA to become recognised and legalised in countries like France. After 10 years of existence, we can reasonably, thanks to the tremendous work of our staff, the members of the board and the unconditional support of our partner UFC, stake our claim to be one day in the Olympic Games.” 

Original IMMAF Board Director Tom Madsen said: “In the past MMA was often misunderstood and by some misinterpreted, but today through solid governance, hard work and reference to scientific evidence, IMMAF has created a worldwide solution with education and progression in a safe environment forming the foundation for future athletes, both recreational and competitive.”

WMMAA Founding President and IMMAF Honorary President Vadim Finkelchtein said:
“10 years has gone by so fast, yet an unbelievable amount has been achieved. I am proud to be a part of a group, with IMMAF, that sees so much eye-to-eye, united in the belief that MMA deserves to be recognised as a stand-alone sport and continues to further its development through education and the promotion of martial arts values. We are the future of MMA.”

Sitting IMMAF President Kerrith Brown OLY said: “As President since 2015, I have been proud to oversee the fruition of IMMAF, which has truly become a juggernaut. I would like to thank our members who are the driving force of our movement for their unswerving commitment to the cause. Credit is due to our dynamic board and to our CEO, Densign White MBE, who deservedly achieved a Queen’s Honours Award (UK) this year for his services to sport. None of IMMAF’s achievements would have been possible without the ongoing support of our partners, most notably UFC, Green Hill, MyNextMatch and Safe MMA, which also turns 10 in 2022. Thanks is also due to our incredibly hardworking administrative team and the generous support of our volunteers.”

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Reo Yamaguchi flying the flag solo for Japan at the World Championships in Abu Dhabi Mon, 03 Jan 2022 09:48:17 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

It’s been a minute since we’ve seen some national teams compete under the IMMAF-WMMAA banner, in particular countries like Japan, who haven’t featured since 2019. The federation was routinely entering in competitions before the pandemic hit and are hoping to get back to its old ways. Starting with the World Championships in January. 

Japan has had some strong contenders through the years, many of which have since turned pro. However, the stalwart on the team has been Reo Yamaguchi. He has been the standout competitor for Japan over the years, picking up a medal in every competition he has entered. His trilogy of finals with Muhammad Mokaev saw him walk away with three silver medals. Two of which were at the World Championships. His sole gold medal came at the 2018 IMMAF Oceania Open Championships.

His performances and medal contribution to Japan has always made them a nation to watch. A tradition that he will be hoping to continue and build on. To do this he has been dedicating his life to the sport and training in AKA Thailand.

“Currently I live in Phuket as a sponsored fighter of AKA Thailand and do hard training 2-3 times a day. Mike Swick, the manager, the staff, the coaches and a lot of friends are helping me, so I definitely want to show them the gold medal.”

To end 2021 he received his BJJ purple belt and earned himself a spot on the coveted AKA Thailand team wall. While training there he has been working on his English fluency as well as the technical aspect of the sport. Yamaguchi went on to explain that he’s not just a competitor and that the sport is his life. 

“MMA is my lifestyle, so it doesn’t matter if there is no competition. But I wanted to show all my supporters around the world how I’ve been improving as a fighter.”

“I’ve improved all of my striking, wrestling and BJJ to be a well-rounded fighter. Please expect me to win the gold medal for the first time for Japan.”

His eyes are set on gold but it’s not at Junior Bantamweight like we have seen in the past. This time he will be moving up to the Senior Featherweight division to test himself against the best at 145lbs. At only 22 years of age, this competition will be an opportunity for him to break the 20 fight mark and add another division to his medal tally. 

Joining Reo with team Japan at the 2021 Senior & Junior World Championships will be coach Hidetoshi Yamaguchi and team official Sayumi Yamaguchi.

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New Year Message from IMMAF CEO Densign White MBE “Becoming a WADA signatory is a fantastic way for IMMAF to bring 2021 to a close and set us up for the New Year” Fri, 31 Dec 2021 10:26:31 +0000

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The IMMAF family can look back on 2021 and be proud of what has been collectively achieved in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to fast-changing travel regulations, IMMAF postponed its recommencement of competition to the third and fourth quarters, but with strong support from our membership we ultimately pulled off three successful Championships: The Youth World Championships in Sofia, exceeded 2019’s numbers in participation and became IMMAF’s first live-streamed youth event. Fast on its heels came the European Open Championships in Kazan, which outshone all previous continental events in production standards, while the MMA World Cup Prague created a new opportunity in IMMAF’s competition calendar and provided an alternative European Championship for teams unable to travel to Russia at that time. 

The high standard of performance across all events serves as testimony to the tenacity of IMMAF athletes and is a credit to the commitment of our coaches and national federations during these extremely challenging two years. It also promises an exceptional level of competition and some compelling potential face-offs for the Worlds.

IMMAF was strengthened organisationally by key governance decisions made by the IMMAF board in 2021 that included:

  • Mandatory grades for youth participation in IMMAF events; 
  • Continental Championships to be restricted to athletes from within the continent;
  • Women’s representation on the IMMAF Board of Directors will rise by 30% by 2027, in a year when many of our national federations have established their own Women’s Commissions with support of IMMAF’s active Women’s Commission.
  • A new transgender policy, which will be reviewed periodically. As it stands, transgender athletes cannot compete in IMMAF events, for reasons of athlete safety. This is a complex and divisive topic across sport, and the recent guidance from the International Olympic Committee makes it clear that each sport needs to develop policies that are relevant and appropriate. IMMAF is not expected to adopt a “one size fits all” set of regulations. We, as a combat sport, must make athlete safety at our events the priority because the risk is here and now. At the same time, we continue to consider all options to encourage inclusion of the transgender community in the sport of MMA.

The overall output of the Board and executive teams has been notably enhanced by the expert advice of 17 committees and commissions that were established and reformed during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. We have also continued to work to meet the recommendations of our 2020 Good Governance Audit.

Working closely with our National Federations, all IMMAF’s activities contribute to our growing case for recognition by relevant international bodies. Becoming a World Anti-Doping Agency signatory after a rigorous application process at the end of December is a fantastic way for IMMAF to bring 2021 to a close and set us up for the New Year. The next step will be to gain recognition by the association of International sport federations known as GAISF. Although the GAISF recognition process stalled during the pandemic and opportunities for critical meetings were scuppered, our application remains live, and we continue to actively lobby. You may be aware of a recent proposal by the new President of GAISF, Ivo Ferriani, for the dissolution of the organisation: We do not know if this will be passed by GAISF members or yet what it will mean for IMMAF in our bid to be accepted into the Olympic Movement and we expect that GAISF will continue to exist until 2023.

We were pleased also this year to welcome new national federations into IMMAF representing Israel, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Guyana, Malta, Senegal, Sierra Leone, St Lucia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

And so, it is as a stronger organisation and larger global movement that we move into 2022, a year in which we can hopefully enjoy a full Championships calendar and will be honing our attention onto youth development as a priority for our sport, as we continue to fight for the recognition that we deserve.

To conclude, I would like to thank IMMAF’s staff and volunteers who have continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic; our sponsors, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for their ongoing support, advice, and guidance; the IMMAF Board of Directors and our President Kerrith Brown, whose support has enabled me and the senior management team to be the best that we can be. I would also like to thank our national federations and teams for their ongoing support and passionate commitment to the evolution of MMA. If we keep up this momentum, we cannot fail to succeed.

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IMMAF achieves WADA signatory status Thu, 23 Dec 2021 17:38:15 +0000

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is proud to announce that it has been awarded WADA Code signatory status by the World Anti-Doping Agency, becoming the first organization to do so under the revised Policy for Acceptance of New Signatories that came into effect at the beginning of 2021.

IMMAF’s application was reviewed under the revised policy, which was approved by WADA’s Executive Committee in September 2020 and came into force at the same time as the revised Code on 1 January 2021.

WADA President Witold Bańka commented: 

 “WADA is pleased to welcome the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation into the Clean Sport community. In signing the Code, it joins the more than 600 sports organizations that have already pledged their support to the harmonized global anti-doping movement. We would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts that have been made by IMMAF to bring this to fruition. In order to gain approval under the terms of the revised policy, the federation needed to go through a stringent process. This included the assessment by independent experts of its level of good governance, a review of its application by WADA’s newly created Signatory Expert Group – which is independent from WADA Management – and the completion of an extensive Code Compliance Questionnaire to demonstrate the quality of their anti-doping program. This is a positive step for IMMAF and its athletes, who will now enjoy the protection afforded by the Code.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

 “As the first international sports governing body to complete WADA’s new application process, we have set a new benchmark not just for MMA, but for sport. Today, IMMAF can be proud that its gold standard in clean MMA has been formally recognised, guaranteeing transparency, fairness and safety to our athletes and empowering us to implement further improvements in governance. This sees IMMAF become the only international federation for MMA with WADA signatory status, following six years adherence to WADA compliant anti-doping regulation. Today’s result is not only a significant achievement for IMMAF but also for our national federations which have contributed to this journey, and it will surely strengthen their bids for national sport recognition.”

IMMAF CEO Densign White said:

“It’s been a long journey these past years to achieve the standard required for signatory status. This recognition sets a benchmark for our sport and also marks a historical step change in WADA’s recognition process, with IMMAF being the first international federation to be accepted under the new WADA Code as revised in January. The new code sets new higher standards in protecting athletes and creating the level playing field we all want. This will also be fantastic news for all our national federations as it validates their credibility as members of an international federation that has sport integrity at its heart.”

IMMAF Anti-Doping Consultant, Michele Verroken, of Sporting Integrity said:

“Achieving WADA Code signatory status has been a genuine team commitment across the whole organisation. This demonstrates just how serious IMMAF is about clean and safe MMA for amateur athletes and how doping has no place in our sport. I am truly grateful to be working with an international federation that prioritises athlete welfare and the integrity of competition.”

The IMMAF President and CEO were united in thanking WADA President, Mr. Bańka, and WADA director Sébastien Gillot and team for their support throughout the application process over the previous two years. They thanked the IMMAF board and administration team for their work, and most notably IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant Michele Verroken for her commitment to raising IMMAF’s Anti-doping practice to a world class level and seeing the application process over the line, despite challenges. The leadership thanked sponsors UFC and Green Hill for their belief in IMMAF and thanked UFC COO Lawrence Epstein and team for their ongoing support.

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New UFC Gym opens in Kyrgystan Thu, 23 Dec 2021 08:53:26 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

The grand opening of the UFC’s newest GUM club took place on Saturday, December 18, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

The promotion’s champion, Valentina Shevchenko, made a special guest appearance at the event to celebrate the historic occasion. ‘The Bullet’ gladly posed for pictures with fans as she endorsed the club that will help develop the next wave of Kyrgyz fighters. The gym is the first of its kind in Central Asia and will undoubtedly be taken advantage of by athletes from all over the region.

In addition to meeting one of the best pound-for-pound martial artists on the planet, the MMA enthusiasts in attendance also had the opportunity to see the facilities and speak to the head coach of the Busek MMA Federation, Ilyar Bakiev. 

The new gym is officially partnered with Pankration Kyrgyzstan, which is affiliated with IMMAF. Therefore in the coming years, it is likely that we’ll be seeing a massive growth in the participation of Kyrgyz athletes at all the major amateur tournaments.

In the past, the sport was dominated by America and Brazil. But over the last decade, the landscape of MMA has completely changed. We’re seeing the emergence of superstars from completely different parts of the world.

The little known Russian Republic of Dagestan has produced a plethora of amazing fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev, whilst the continent of Africa has crowned three champions within the same amount of years. Therefore, it is likely that there will be another surge of talent in an unexpected part of the planet, and Kyrgyzstan could fit the bill.

Shevchenko put her country on the map by becoming the nation’s first-ever UFC champion. But she isn’t the only elite-level competitor from her homeland to take the world by storm.

In addition to the flyweight star, Rafael Fiziev has put together a promising run in the premier promotion’s lightweight division. Furthermore, Kamrian Abbasov has excited One Championship fans with his incredible displays of high level striking and grappling.

The level of quality in Kyrgyzstan is improving at a rapid rate. This means that if they can utilise their new gym to its maximum potential, it’s possible that the small mountainous country could become one of the biggest power-players in the entire sport.

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Mexico aim to better their 2019 medal count at the World Championships Thu, 23 Dec 2021 06:59:14 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

At the 2021 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships, Mexico will return to international competition for the first time since 2019. The Mexican Mixed Martial Arts Federation (FAMM) have been working hard to prepare for the tournament. Notably organising a gathering of talents back in September – a successful multi-day retreat. Not to mention hosting multiple tournaments all over Mexico. 

The team always brings a great atmosphere to the competition and their return will be more than welcome. They will be sending 19 athletes from 10 different states to represent their country on the world stage. 

Some returning athletes include 2019 World Junior Silver medalist Nora Ochoa and 2019 Pan American Silver medalist Violeta Mendoza. Ochoa had one of the best runs for Mexico in the World Championships, winning two fights in two days to set up a finals bout with German standout Anna Gaul. A third-round armbar loss saw her take home a silver medal, the best result for the federation across both senior and junior. 

Speaking on behalf of FAMM, Javier Rodriguez outlined the desire to return to competition and the ambition for this tournament. 

“Returning the Mexican team to compete will be a real pleasure, the hunger to compete is stronger than ever, each one of our athletes is willing to show the Mexican heart and the combat-related skill that is so characteristic of our country. We will have a very young team that has been growing and competing in our national tournaments, they are ready to take the previous generation’s place and make their own history.”

“In the last world championship back in 2019 the Mexican team gained five medals, one silver and four bronzes with 12 athletes. This year with 19, our goal is to get the most gold medals we can and surpass the 2019 number of medals. We have a great team and we know that we can compete at the highest level against any country. We want to return to the top 10 of the world ranking and will work very hard to make that happen.”

He went on to detail the work that was done to keep the athletes active and sharp ahead of the competition in January. 

“The Federation was able to keep the athletes competing at a local level, and as soon as the covid 19 restrictions permitted sport activities, we started to reactivate the tournaments around the country.”

“We had held a total of 20 amateur tournaments from April 2021 to December, including tournaments like Desafio Marcial (which was run in 4 states at the same time, making this tournament the biggest of his kind in our country), Statal Tournaments in Campeche, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Cdmx, Guanajuato, Coahuila, Queretaro, Nuevo León and San Luis.”

We are looking forward to the world championships. We had a national selection camp held in Morelos from September 16 to 19. The camp  included psychology talks, training sessions of striking, grappling and MMA, also physical measures and strength tests that provide our coaches all the information necessary to work on the athletes.”

The full squad list for the Mexican team for the 2021 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships is as follows. 

Nora Ochoa (Chihuahua) – Strawweight

Violeta Mendoza (Chihuahua) – Flyweight

Valeria Gomez Frausto (Guanajuato) – Jr Strawweight

Andrea Gabriela Guzman Salazar  (Jalisco) – Featherweight

Melissa Alexandra Diaz Medina  (Tamaulipas) – Lightweight

Luis Enrique Gonzalez Martinez (Chiapas) – Lightweight

Jorge Raul Zaragoza de la Cruz (CDMX) – Middleweight

Victor Gerardo Quintana Vazquez (CDMX) – Featherweight

Anthony Ramirez Amado (Chihuahua) – Bantamweight

Jesus Ernesto Guillen Mendoza (Chihuahua) – Light Heavyweight

Daniel Flores Sartorius (EDOMEX) – Heavyweight

Jafet Manzo Bueno (EDOMEX) – Strawweight

Cruz Emmanuel Garcia Gonzalez  (Guanajuato) – Jr Welterweight

Israel Salcido Guzman Salazar  (Jalisco) – Welterweight

Jorge Antonio Lopez Perez  (Michoacán) – Flyweight

León Rodrigo Rodriguez Aguirre  (Nuevo Leon) – Jr Lightweight

Jaime Sierra  (Tamaulipas) – Jr Flyweight

Jorge Cobos Marin  (San Luis Potosí) – Jr Bantamweight

Diego Torres Rangel   (San Luis Potosí) – Jr Middleweight

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Austria excited to be back on the IMMAF stage with a “young and motivated team” Wed, 22 Dec 2021 09:34:04 +0000

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By Jake Smith

Up next in our IMMAF World Championships ‘Teams To Watch’ series is the Austrian Mixed Martial Arts Federation, as they return to IMMAF competition.

The 2021 World Championships will be the first tournament in a long time for Austria, as they did not enter a team for the European Championships or the World Cup. The Federation is now relishing the opportunity to return to competitive mixed martial arts. Co-team coach and board member Gerhard Ettl explained Austria’s reasoning behind not entering teams into the previous tournaments. : “I and the team love the excitement of international competition. To compete at the highest level of amateur MMA you need to ensure that your athletes are fit and up to the challenge. Sometimes you need a season to recover, reach your full potential, and develop young new fighters. This is exactly what we have done and we are excited to be back in Abu Dhabi with a young new motivated team.”

Although fielding a relatively new team, Ettl expects the dedication his young athletes have shown to the sport so far will supersede any experience they drop to opponents and can even see medals returning from Abu Dhabi.  He said:
“We are entering seven fighters in this year’s competition: three in the junior class, three in the senior class, and one fighter in the women’s division.

“What our team has not yet attained in experience, they more than make up for in motivation and commitment. Our goal is to win two medals, gain exposure, develop our skills in competition, and set the groundwork for future international competitions.”

Ettl believes that the previously described commitment shown by athletes throughout the federation played a vital role in the athletes maintaining their fitness throughout the last 12 months, many of them having to discipline themselves and to train from home due to the restrictions the nation faced. He explained how the team managed to adapt to keep working during the pandemic:

“In Austria, like the rest of the world, we had a lot of Covid-19 restrictions. We had two full lock downs, all the gyms in Austria were closed, and travel for sparring sessions was difficult. It was hard to develop team camaraderie and keep motivation high. Despite all the challenges, we still managed to get in weekly team sparring sessions in Graz. All our athletes also trained hard in their home cities with their local coaches. They also did a great job of staying in contact and motivating each other over social media.”

Austria’s selection process takes place at their national championships; of which they saw a tremendous turn out. Ettl said:

“Two months ago, we held the Austria National Championships where the athletes earned their spot on the national team. There were about fifty contenders at the championships and competition was fierce. All seven of our qualifying athletes performed well and have clearly earned the right to represent Austria in Abu Dhabi.”

The federation have clear goals set for on and off the podium in Abu Dhabi and moving forwards, commendable concentrating on developing a solid groundwork for their current and future athletes. IMMAF has been a proven platform for amateurs to flourish against the best competitors on the globe and Austria aims to become one of the next nations to shine on the IMMAF stage.

The 2021 IMMAF World Championships take place in Abu Dhabi between January 24-29th 2022.

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Germany to be powerhouse of amateur MMA as GEMMAF announces packed schedule for 2022 Wed, 22 Dec 2021 09:32:10 +0000

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By Jake Smith

The German Mixed Martial Arts Federation has announced an action packed 2022; the schedule is made up of four events including an inaugural Youth Tournament

In what will be a first for the nation, Germany will organise a Youth Tournament for young athletes on a date still to be finalised.

GEMMAF believes that a Youth Tournament will help further develop talent that the world has already seen at Junior level, where the likes of Anna Gaul has already shone on the IMMAF platform in recent years. She notably picked up 2018 European Championship Gold and World Championship Bronze, and European and World Gold in 2019.

Elsewhere in the schedule, GEMMAF had made a small alteration to their formally named regional championships, opting now to call them qualifiers. In a post across their social media pages, GEMMAF explained the decision behind the name change, hoping that it will lead to increased participation. They said: “With this we are no longer bound to the individual regions and we are taking the next step to make our events in amateur MMA more flexible and host more of them in the future.”

The first of the new qualifiers will take place in Coburg on March 26th 2022  and the second taking place in Gottingen on June 25th.

The German Championships will then take place on September 24th.

However, as is the case for many other IMMAF nations, GEMMAF will continue to focus on the IMMAF 2021 World Championships as the number 1 priority. The federation will no doubt be keen to improve on their 2019 tournament ranking, where the senior team fell short of making the podium but finished 6th at junior level.

The IMMAF 2021 Senior and Junior World Championships will run from January 24th-29th in Abu Dhabi.

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Slovakia aiming to continue their impressive rise at the IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi Tue, 21 Dec 2021 08:46:50 +0000

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By James Eakin

As the IMMAF World Championships draw ever closer, we look at some of the returning stars and burgeoning contenders who will represent Slovakia in Abu Dhabi at the end of January. 

Despite only taking five athletes to last year’s World Championships, the Slovakian team still managed to achieve an impressive 8th in the medal table and will look to build on their success next month. Currently ranked at number 18 in the world, Slovakia will be hoping for landmark victories and podium finishes for its athletes to boost their ranking place and propel their athletes into the spotlight.

Six athletes will travel to Abu Dhabi, alongside four coaches and one team official. The list of athletes representing Slovakia include one contender at Men’s Bantamweight, two at Featherweight, and one each at Lightweight, Welterweight and Middleweight:

  • Men’s Bantamweight – Kristian Nguyen (0-0-0)
  • Men’s Featherweight – Marek Medovarski (0-0-0), Mario Brezovsky (1-1-0)
  • Men’s Lightweight – Marcel Simo (0-0-0)
  • Men’s Welterweight – Michal Garaj (0-0-0)
  • Men’s Middleweight – Radomir Chovan (1-1-0)

The coaching team includes Kamil Cibinski, Matej Kiraly, Pavel Berky and Robert Delic. The team official will be Marek Herda.

This group of senior Slovakian athletes will be looking to emulate the previous success of athletes like Miroslav Mlyncek and Slavka Holubjakova who won bronze and gold medals at last year’s Youth World Championship in spectacular fashion. Holubjakova went a perfect 3-0 with three submission victories on her route to glory, whereas Mlyncek beat opponents from Russia and Ukraine, who have junior national teams currently ranked at number 1 and number 3 in the official IMMAF rankings.

The 2021 IMMAF World Championships represent a historic occasion, as it will be the first World Championships for seniors and juniors to be held for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All the athletes competing will be gunning to state their claim as the best, and it will be exciting to see a new group of talent take the spotlight in Abu Dhabi.

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The English Mixed Martial Arts Association announces team for the IMMAF World Championships Tue, 21 Dec 2021 07:51:59 +0000

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By Ross Patterson

Resurrection MMA is a martial arts gym in an old, converted church in Nottinghamshire, England. The gym played host to the English Mixed Martial Arts Academy trials for the IMMAF World Championships which are taking place in January 2022.

The EMMAA trials attract the best amateur talent the UK has to offer. This year, the standard and turnout were both high, making the decision on who made the team a difficult one..

The day started with an introduction by Paul Kelly, EMMA’s Head Coach. Paul made clear to the athletes how the trials would be structured, and what was on the line. Andrew Fisher from TFT MMA was running the drills, which included striking and cage wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu and light-sparring. Also assessing the talent was Christian Smith, the owner of Resurrection MMA, as well as Mark Spencer, the EMMAA Youth Coach. Watching closely cage-side was Paul Reed, EMMAA’s Performance Director, and Marie Spencer.

As the athletes warmed up, it was clear the skill level was high. The striking was sharp and fluid, and the grappling technically proficient. Initially, the drills were non-competitive, but Fisher soon had the athletes sparring lightly. From time to time, a heavy shot would land. The coaches were quick to ask for “10%” taken off the power. The emphasis was on technique. Some participants had fights scheduled in the coming weeks, so couldn’t afford to pick up an injury.

British churches are not well-insulated, and on a cold December day, everyone’s breath was caught in the air. Hats, gloves and hoodies were left firmly on. Spectators’ fingers and toes soon turned stiff, but there was a warm heater in the toilet and pull-up bars to get the blood pumping. But steam was rising from the athletes, and after two hours of work, everyone was looking ready to call it a day.

Paul Kelly made a closing speech, thanked everyone for coming and commented on the high level of mixed martial arts on show. The group gathered for photographs, and headed home.

After the trials, Paul told me, “It was great. The level of talent was high enough that it wasn’t clear who would be on the team and who wouldn’t.”

Ryan McNally, who was picked for the team, said about the IMMAF event, “This is how it’s going to be, isn’t it? Same-day weigh-ins, rash guard, shin guards.”

The coaches then discussed who would be chosen to represent England at length. And the team selected is as follows:

England will field a strong team for the IMMAF World Championships. The young MMA athletes who travelled from across the UK to the trials certainly impressed all of those in attendance.

Fundraising has already started to finance the trip to Abu Dhabi on January 24, 2022 and it looks set to be a fantastic experience for all involved.

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IMMAF CEO Densign White becomes a Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for services to diversity in sport Fri, 17 Dec 2021 16:41:54 +0000

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Densign White received an MBE award from the hands of the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle on 14 December, becoming a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his sporting career and his ongoing efforts to foster diversity in sport.

A former judoka, Densign won the gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, and participated in three Olympic Games (1984, 1988 and 1992). The former chair of the British Judo Association (2001-2012) and board member of the British Olympic Association, he was former head sports director of the European Judo Union. He now serves as the Chair of the charity Sporting Equals, and as Vice Chair of board of SIGA, the Sport Integrity Global Alliance.

“It was a tremendous honour and moment of pride for me to receive this honour, and especially nice to receive the award from the Princess Royal who I know quite well from my time working with the British Olympic Association,” said Densign. 

“Receiving the MBE in the Queens Honours list is great, but it means nothing if I cannot use it to help others. I have not forgotten my own struggles, my roots, where I have come from, and hopefully I will remain grounded and have empathy for others who are on their own sports journey.

“Let’s not forget that many people around the world cannot access sport because of any number of barriers including race, religion, language, gender, disability, economic and lack of investment in facilities. I should also add that these barriers are not exclusive to third world countries. There are many marginalised communities even within developed countries.

“These issues concern me a lot and I want everybody to have the opportunities that sport has given to me. This is what motivates my contribution to the work of IMMAF, Sporting Equals and SIGA.”

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions.

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Watch the 2021 IMMAF Worlds on IMMAFTV Thu, 16 Dec 2021 13:17:16 +0000

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The rescheduled 2021 IMMAF World Championships will be streamed live from Abu Dhabi at from 24 to 29 January 2022.

Hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, with backing from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and in partnership with Palms Sports, IMMAF’s annual flagship tournament is to take place at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City, near UFC Fight Island (Yas Island). 

With gold, silver and bronze medals available across 16 male and female weight categories in Junior and Senior divisions, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s nations tournament will play out across up to 4 cages over 6 days.

Four-hundred-and-sixty-seven athletes have applied to compete so far from 39 countries ahead of 23 December deadline for entry. Registered nations include Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Nepal, Poland, Polynesia, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine and USA. The full list of national teams and athletes will be published after registration closes with the viewing schedule to finalised.

The event will mark IMMAF’s first World Championships in two years, after COVID-19 put a stop to competition in 2020. However, returning medallists and new Rising Stars made their mark in 2021 at the European Championships and World Cup Prague, establishing compelling rivalries expected to play out at a highly competitive tournament in Abu Dhabi.

IMMAF TV Packages:


  • A World Championships ‘Tournament Pass’ is available now at $9.99 for all 6 days of MMA action across up to 4 cages
  • Subscribe for $6.99 per month for access to IMMAF’s annual Championships live in 2022 to include continental championships in Europe, Pan America, Oceania, Africa and Asia, plus the 2022 World and Youth World Championships, and IMMAF’s archive
  • Special Offer for a limited time only: Sign up for a full year, access all areas, for just $39.99 before Sunday 23rd January 

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IMMAF Alumni Francis Mlambo wins $100,000 prize at Combate Global Cup Wed, 15 Dec 2021 08:17:52 +0000

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By Ross Patterson 

IMMAF alumni Frans Mlambo won the Combate Global Cup – an 8-man Bantamweight tournament in Miami, Florida on Sunday December 12  – taking home $100,000 dollars in prize money. 

Just like in IMMAF, Mlambo was representing his home country, Ireland, and fought 3 times in one evening. He beat Jose Zarauz in the opening bout via split decision, Cristian Barraza in the semi-final via unanimous decision, and Kevin Codero in the final, via another split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). 

The fights prior to the finals were just one 5-minute round, with the final featuring 3, 5-minute rounds. The prize pot is promoted as “the biggest trophy in sports,” by Combate Global. 

Mlambo trains at SBG Ireland under John Kavanaugh. He was the 2015 IMMAF World Champion, and prior to the tournament achieved a professional record of 10 wins and 5 losses. At just 30-years-old, he is already living up to his huge potential. 

He will now fight the Combate Global Bantamweight Champion, David Martinez, for the title next year.

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Oceania Youth Development Programme to be launched in January 2022 Wed, 15 Dec 2021 08:16:14 +0000

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By James Eakin

In his ongoing quest to gain government recognition for amateur MMA, Richie Cranny, President of the IMMAFA, has expanded his Youth Development Program, which is set to roll out in January 2022. 

The program, which was initially planned only for Australia, has now broadened its reach, and become the Oceania Youth Development Programme, after the IMMAFA joined forces with the New Zealand Mixed Martial Arts Federation. This expansion came after a call with IMMAF Director of Development Andrew Moshanov and discussions with IMMAF CEO Densign White, and from January the programme will be rolled out to multiple gyms across the region, with aspirations of involving as many as 50 gyms by the summer of 2022. Cranny has described this scheme as:

“A bridge to convert gyms that wouldn’t normally come over to MMA”.

The initial success and hype around the programme will lead to an exponential increase in the projected membership figures of IMMAFA. Speaking about these projections, Cranny said:

“We’re basically going to double our membership in the first four weeks.”

There are also aspirations to include the charity Mission Australia in the venture, to ensure that children can get the exact course content they desire, to promote the project’s chances to get government recognition.

President of the NZMMAF, Terry Hill, expressed his delight at the expansion of the program, saying:

“This is huge, and for IMMAF it is huge as well. I think I’ve got a pot of gold here.”

One major development for the programme is the fact that NZMMAF is already recognised by the New Zealand government as a National Sports Organisation, something that has yet to be achieved in Australia by IMMAFA. NZMMAF have already been running schemes in schools that have been incredibly successful. President Terry Hill and Vice-President Matt Toa have been leading the way in giving young, vulnerable kids a platform to cope with pressures at school and in life. Their input will be the perfect addition to this already impressive programme.  

Furthermore, Cranny has enlisted the help of former two-time Taekwondo Olympian, Adam Meyers as a coach on their international squad. The significance of Meyers’ appointment cannot be understated, as it demonstrates a clear transition of athletes moving away from a single martial arts’ discipline, into MMA. 

Speaking on his involvement with IMMAFA and the benefits of the new program, Meyers said:

“It was really appealing because other pathways in MMA just don’t exist to be frank. For the kids it’s really important to base their goals around an IMMAF style qualification system.”

Alongside The Oceania Youth Development Program, Cranny has introduced a new 12-month coaching internship for those looking to gain the credentials to become a national coach. This helps to ensure the proper education of coaches at amateur level and in turn ensure the safety of athletes in competition.

The Oceania Youth Development Programme is a massive step towards the sports’ recognition at amateur level, and the detail and attention in the course material ensures the safest and well-guided pathway for young athletes and coaches alike!

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An IMMAF Year in Review: Keeping Coach Education on track during the Pandemic Tue, 14 Dec 2021 13:26:10 +0000

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By Ross Patterson

This has been a challenging year for everyone, but especially so for coach development. Coaching martial arts requires close physical contact, so COVID has made this impossible at times. However, several new policies have been implemented by the Coaching and Youth Development Commissions in spite of these challenges. 

New Policies 

  • A new system of online grading was approved by the Coaching Commission. Using two phone cameras, a coach can now assess athletes remotely via a live feed or through recorded video. The protocol and grading criteria were also transmitted through an app, meaning coaches have access instantly, worldwide. 
  • A minimum rest of 15 minutes between fights at youth events was implemented by the Board. Athletes under the age of 18 must now take 15 minutes to rest and recover, better-improving safety and ensuring athletes will showcase the best of their skills. 
  • A coach migration scheme has been introduced which will allow certifications to follow coaches and experts across borders. Instead of having to retake a course when moving to a new country, qualifications will follow coaches internationally. 
  • A minimum technical standard of yellow grade was implemented for the first time at the Youth World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. This ensures an appropriate skill level, as well as demonstrates the educational values IMMAF is committed to. 

Online Education 

The coach education programme continued online, which included courses as well as webinars. 

The South African Federation has been the most active in the Coach Education and Certification Scheme, with 58 new coaches working towards Level 1. 


The IMMAF App continues to be the principal hub for all grading matters and needs of IMMAF coaches. The number of users has almost doubled since last year, with nearly 10,000 people from 94 countries. Gradings have also increased, from 958 in 2020 to 2500 in 2021. And there are 6,900 white-belts now registered, up from 3,800 last year. 

Dr Andrew Moshanov, the IMMAF Director of Development said:

“Thank you to all the coaches and sports enthusiasts for your dedication and passion, without which it would not be possible to elevate the sport of mixed martial arts to where it stands now. Looking forward to working with everyone next year to develop the sport further.” 

You can read more of Dr Moshanov’s thoughts in his recent article here. 

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IMMAF President’s Weekly: ’My Recent Abu Dhabi Trip and IMMAF’s Focus on Youth Development’ Mon, 13 Dec 2021 10:13:54 +0000

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By President Kerrith Brown OLY

Having to adapt and react to various situations has been a major factor over the 18 months and it will continue to be the case. It has most recently happened with the World Championships. However, a trip to the UAE to establish a new team ahead of the World Championships has us moving in the right direction.

Originally the 2021 World Championships were due to be hosted by one of our other national federations, Kazakhstan. However, they were no longer able to host the event due to Covid protocols in Nur Sultan. This led to the postponement of the event but at the last minute, we were able to secure another partner to put it on, the UAE federation. 

On a broader scale, the UAE was always a target nation for us. Working with our Asia representative and IMMAF Board member, Wissam Abi Nader, the goal was to get a federation set up in the UAE and subsequently find the right partners. Once this was set up, the next step for us was to have the federation invest in hosting events.  Once we had laid the foundations the idea of hosting an event in the UAE became a reality with the booking of the World Championships. The set-up we have will hopefully help the development of the sport both nationally and internationally. 

Strategically we had to look at the details of hosting the event this year. Although we wanted to do this, unfortunately, the logistics were too big of a challenge on our side and the federation’s side. Then we had the hurdle of events like Formula One already scheduled in the UAE. This made it difficult to find the right type of slot for us to have it in 2021 and it therefore made sense to move it to January. 

In the build-up to the competition, a key thing that will be monitored is the COVID-19 protocols that are changing so rapidly, be it day-to-day or week -to-week. This is something that we’ve done throughout the pandemic and if there are any major changes then we have to react, but the key thing for us is to ensure that everyone involved is safe.

Youth Development

On the back of the competition being moved to the UAE, a two-part deal was struck, the initial part of the deal being the hosting of the World Championships. The second part will see the Youth World Championships hosted in Abu Dhabi for the next three years, the summertime being the target time of year for the event. 

This deal allows for the development of the Youth World Championships over the next three years, moving hand-in-hand with our plans for youth development as a whole within the sport, supporting it from the ground up. Youth Development is currently a major focus for us and having coaches who understand its importance is key.  

The aim is to create an infrastructure for mixed martial arts that makes it a complete sport, no longer reliant on drawing talent across from the traditional combat sport disciplines. Education will be the main driver for this in tandem with our competition pathway. To facilitate this, we have added a new level of competency to IMMAF coaches’ certification of IMMAF Youth Coach, which has proved successful with our members and continues to grow. Over the last two years, we have seen the number of enrolled members in the IMMAF Level 1 Online Programme grow from 245 to 795. It is this work that will serve as a fundamental game-changer for the sport over the years to come.

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Teams to watch at the IMMAF World Championships: Tajikistan – making great strides in and outside the competition arena Fri, 10 Dec 2021 13:38:50 +0000

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By Jake Smith

In the first of IMMAF’s series of articles taking a closer look at some of the nations competing at the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi, we focus on a Federation that has experienced the most growth over the last 12 months, Tajikistan.

From a relatively new IMMAF member to a top 10 Federation at both IMMAF Senior and Junior level, the Tajikistan Mixed Martial Arts Federation has experienced a meteoric rise since joining the IMMAF family.

Reflecting on a very successful 2021, Tajikistan’s International Relations Manager, Farrukh Halimov, conveyed his delight with the success of the team. He said:

“It was so exciting and proud to watch our national team going forward with ups and downs. 2021 was a very successful year for the Tajikistan Mixed Martial Arts Federation because as a new IMMAF member federation we could participate in all four international championships, three IMMAF and one Central Asian MMA Confederation (CAMMAC) Championship, and achieve strong results in each of them.

“At the IMMAF Youth World Championship in Sofia, with 5 athletes TAJMMAF won 1 Gold and 3 Bronze medals. At the IMMAF European & Junior European Open Championship in Kazan, we entered 12 athletes and earned 2 Gold and 4 Bronze medals. At the  IMMAF Senior & Junior World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic, out of 9 athletes TAJMMAF won 3 Gold, 1 Silver and 4 Bronze medals while at the first Central Asian Championship in Nukus, Uzbekistan the TAJMMAF second team managed  4 silver and 6 bronze medals.

Most nations found that the COVID Pandemic and the restrictions that accompanied it, posed serious challenges to training. However, TAJMMAF worked alongside the Sports Committee and were able to continue their work, Halimov explained:

“In 2020 MMA was still not recognized as a sport in Tajikistan but TAJMMAF obtained the Accreditation of Sports Committee of Tajikistan, and performed accordingly. Notwithstanding the pandemic TAJMMAF had managed to continue training, and held local championships without spectators in line with IMMAF recommendations.” 

But the lack of official recognition did not last for long. In the last 12 months TAJMMAF has made the monumental step of gaining official recognition of Mixed Martial Arts as a sport in Tajikistan. 

“Following the initiative of TAJMMAF President Davron Juraev, the Committee of Youth Affairs and Sports under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan was approached and recognized MMA as a type of sport on April 1, 2021!

“It is important to underline that IMMAF President Kerrith Brown made a great contribution to the official recognition of MMA in our country during his visit to Tajikistan in December 2020. He met at that time with the Sports Committee Vice-Chairman, the General Director of our Olympic Committee and was interviewed on National Sports Television.”

The aforementioned participation at IMMAF tournaments has produced some major prospects, with Otabek Rajabov & Behruz Khurshedzoda holding the junior pound-for-pound rankings of #1 & #2, respectively.

While the federation’s work speaks for itself inside the competition arena, TAJMMAF have been relentless in their pursuit to engage in other meaningful work as well, as Halimov explained:

“ TAJMMAF carried out a number of specific activities in 2021 to regulate and enhance the culture of mixed martial arts. We want to create favorable conditions for young athletes by providing MMA equipment in several clubs and thus to improve education, physical culture and the formation of a healthy lifestyle and popularization of MMA as a safe and healthy sport in the Republic of Tajikistan.

“Besides this, TAJMMAF also fulfills charitable activities, supporting orphans and poor people, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

All in all, it has been an extremely productive and rewarding 12 months for TAJMMAF. Gaining recognition by the government is a colossal achievement to accompany their tremendous tournament success. If they can deliver a solid World Championship performance, the up and coming Federation could find themself in the world top 5 by February 2022.

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IMMAF CEO Densign White joins world sport leaders at Host City 2021 to discuss the importance of integrity in leadership Thu, 09 Dec 2021 09:12:21 +0000

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By James Eakin

This year’s edition of the international sport industry event Host City saw IMMAF CEO Densign White present impactful messages surrounding the need to ensure integrity of leadership in organisations and encourage diversity at all levels. On the panel with White were representatives from multiple governing bodies in sport. Key figures like Rita van Driel, who is a Governing Board Member and Chair of the Women in Sport Commission, Vice President of FINA, Sam Ramsamy and Brendan Williams, Chair of the Athletes Advisory Commission, and a member of the Commonwealth Games Federation. Amongst other key speakers at Host City this year were the head of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee Etienne Thobois and the newly elected President of GAISF Ivo Ferriani.

One of the main points of discussions of the panel was leadership and its impact on the culture of big organisations. When White was asked on how integrity within an organisation develops, he answered:

“The leader of the organisation impacts on the culture of that organisation. It comes from the top. Integrity and trust depend on how well the organisation is led.”

In IMMAF’s mission to make sure that the integrity of the sport is maintained at an amateur level, White revealed that it is sometimes necessary to go against the opinions of the majority in order to protect the image of amateur MMA. White described how such an instance developed with IMMAF during discussions around the Youth Rule Set. White explained how the process of deciding whether head shots should be allowed in youth competition occurred was not straightforward:

“We conducted a survey of all the coaches and their opinions on headstrikes. Around 80-90% of coaches were in favour of headstrikes, and more than 50% of those coaches wanted headstrikes included at the lowest age group, which includes 12-year-old athletes.”

In the end, after lengthy discussions at board level, it was agreed that head shots would not be permitted. White made the salient point that these figures highlighted the need for better education of coaches at amateur level. White also pointed out that as MMA is a relatively new sport in comparison to the likes of Boxing, kick boxing or Muay Thai, there is no room for any mistakes, as they cost the sport’s mission for recognition dearly. The decision to swim against the tide proved a wise one, and since then IMMAF has clearly demonstrated a desire to offer a safe and attractive sport for all age groups. White also identified how this decision put concerned parents at ease:

“The decision to ban headstrikes helped to recruit more kids. Parents would always be concerned about their children receiving headstrikes from a young age and the decision to rule them out makes the sport more welcoming.”

The Host City event is a massive opportunity for organisations to put across their values, and Densign White has emphasised the need for leaders to be pilots not passengers. In their quest for Olympic recognition, White and the IMMAF team continue to set a gold standard in competition, prioritising integrity, diversity, and safety within their events.

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An IMMAF Year in Review – Michele Verroken heads efforts to secure WADA signatory status in the fight for clean sport Tue, 07 Dec 2021 09:22:41 +0000

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Ross Patterson 

A key area of any sport is the prevention of performance-enhancing drug use. This is important to level the playing field, and in combat sports, also helps to ensure athlete safety. 

Michele Verroken has led IMMAF’s anti-doping and integrity work since 2005, and continues to provide expert consultancy as the organisation closes in on achieving signatory status with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). 

As WADA significantly changed its Code this year, IMMAF has been working hard to adjust. Anti-doping seminars were held to “update and upskill national federations in terms of their obligations to compliance,” said Michele. 

While IMMAF closes in on its long term goal of achieving WADA Code Signatory status Michele said the federation is “continuing to build good relationships with National Anti-Doping Organisations and WADA accredited laboratories to deliver WADA-compliant anti-doping testing programmes at major championships.”

IMMAF’s application to join the WADA Code Signatory was accepted and the federation has now completed  the Code Compliance Questionnaire and a decision by WADA could be made before the end of 2021.But while big steps forward were taken in 2021, IMMAF CEO Design White made it clear that anti-doping involves constant commitment: “becoming a signatory to the Code is not the end of the process but the beginning, and the overall process will require huge investment of both financial and human resources.”

The Anti-doping area of the website is regularly updated to ensure all members and athletes have access to the relevant information. 


WADA continually updates its policies on anti-doping, so it is vital all members of IMMAF are educated on the most recent changes. 

The Athletes and Support Personnel Anti-Doping Guide was updated for the 2021 World Championships to include the latest relevant information. Athletes must be informed and educated first before being exposed to an anti-doping testing programme, in accordance with the International Standard for Education and IMMAF’s Anti-Doping Advisor’s policy. 

During the technical seminar in March 2021, in-depth discussions were held around how anti-doping relates to safe weight management. Weight variation is useful data for anti-doping intelligence, so can be used as a tool in the prevention of drug cheating. 

A review group will continue to update the educational resources available to IMMAF members. 


The current level of testing is modest due to the high financial cost, however, 2 events this year included anti-doping testing, with 40 tests carried out. 

Out-of-competition testing is not yet feasible due to funding, but “monitoring of changes to the rankings list help to inform how a Registered Testing Pool could operate and give effective coverage once funds are available.” 

Anti-doping rule violations are published in line with the WADA Code on the IMMAF website. 

Preventing the use of performance-enhancing drugs is about defending the rights of clean athletes. IMMAF this year continued efforts to ensure a stringent testing process, and will continue this work into 2022.

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Senior sports journalist Simon Head appointed as IMMAF Young Journalists mentor Mon, 06 Dec 2021 10:06:58 +0000

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As the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation prepares for its rescheduled 2021 World Championships set for Abu Dhabi in January, MMA’s world governing body has appointed senior sports journalist Simon Head as mentor for its Young Journalist competition winners at the event.

In July, Erik Uebelacker (USA) and Daniyal Nasir (Pakistan) were announced as winners of IMMAF’s inaugural Young MMA Journalists Competition, established to help develop MMA’s journalists of the future. Erik and Daniyal have won the opportunity to receive training and mentorship while reporting live on the World Championships. Their coverage of the six-day tournament will feature across official IMMAF platforms. 

Simon Head is an established writer and editor with twenty-three years’ experience in sports journalism at a national and international level. 

With a an early background in local radio; in editorial for the English Premier League’s first official stats yearbook; as content manager for the world’s biggest online bookmaker in the early 2000s; and in the communications department for The Football Association, Simon’s career turned to MMA in 2011.

As Sports Production Editor for the Daily Mirror newspaper, Simon campaigned for and established dedicated MMA pages at the Mirror Online. During this time, he also coordinated the Mirror’s digital coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games and worked integrally as part of the Mirror Football editorial team. In 2015, Simon was headhunted to become the only full-time MMA reporter in the UK national press with The Sun. He moved onto join the digital production team at BT Sport in 2013 to lead the broadcasters’ digital coverage of the UFC and MotoGP. Simon remains a freelance MMA reporter today for BBC Sport and a digital manager for Fighters Only.

Simon’s work has additionally featured nationally and internationally at MMA Junkie, Fighters Only, RT Sport, USA Today, The National UAE, BBC Radio Five Live, TalkSport and CNN. As former host of MMA Junkie/USA Today’s weekly MMA talk show, “Spinning Back Clique”, Simon continues to-the-present to host, “The Brit Pack MMA Podcast”.

Commenting on his appointment, Simon Head said:

“It’s an honour to be invited by IMMAF to take on the role of Journalist Mentor, and I’m really looking forward to helping two talented young journalists cover the next generation of mixed martial artists as they go for gold at the IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully, after covering the fighters’ journeys at the IMMAF World Championships, the young journalists will progress their own careers and get the chance to follow some of those same fighters all the way to the top of the pro ranks in the years ahead.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: 

“IMMAF is all about building the future of the sport, and good journalism has an important role to play in that. I can think of no one better to assume the mentor role than Simon, not only due to his extensive experience but also his long track record of supporting local and grassroots MMA. We are privileged to have him on board.”

You can follow Simon at 

Twitter: @simonhead
Instagram: @simonheadsport
Contact details:

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Michelle Montague reflects on months of exile but remains upbeat about future after training at the American Top Team and SBG gyms Fri, 03 Dec 2021 10:10:47 +0000

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By Jake Smith

It’s been a challenging few months for IMMAF 2019 World Champion Michelle ‘The Wild One’ Montague. Thanks to the Pandemic she was forced to compete at the IMMAF Euros alone and then was not allowed to travel home for four months. But the 28-year-old has kept a positive spin on her life.

Pure grit and determination to represent her nation at the IMMAF European Championships drove Montague to make the journey to Kazan, Russia alone. With no coach or teammates able to travel due to New Zealand’s covid restrictions, ‘The Wild One’ had to overcome some obstacles due to being the sole competitor to represent her Nation. She said: “The challenges I faced by going to the European champs alone was predominantly having my coach that has been there for every fight, in my ear, pre and during the fights. I found myself not fighting as I know I can/should in certain situations and this was for sure the biggest challenge.

“I managed to get my weight cut done fine as I had constant comms with Jordi Sullican (Her Fight Dietitian). The travel aspect itself was also fine as I am pretty used to travelling solo, but yes when it came to the actual fights I did feel the absence more.”

Montague admitted that she initially battled with the idea of competing at the Euros but the support of family and of the IMMAF, ultimately swayed her decision.

“The decision to head over to the Euros was difficult at first, however the IMMAF team really went out of their way to make the list of “difficulties’ ‘ a lot more manageable. I cannot thank them enough for that! Being away from family for 4 months, and even becoming an aunt for the first time in the last few weeks, is certainly a little heavy on the emotions at times, but the family back home are SO supportive of my goals and have never made it harder than it already is; in fact it was amazing to feel the support from back home with every opportunity I was presented with these past 4 months.”

Post championships, in which she collected European Bronze, Michelle visited the USA to train at the American Top Team gym. Whilst there, she gained invaluable knowledge under the tutelage of  Mike Brown and trained alongside a plethora of ATT talent, including PFL Champion Kayla Harrison. “Training with the ATT girls was awesome and I look forward to getting more time with them in the future when I am in Florida again. The drilling and rounds with Kayla were always with Mike Brown’s supervision and being there under those two veterans of MMA/Judo was priceless. Myself, being a pretty similar styled fighter to Kayla made those drills and rounds even more valuable to me. The solid banter also made it a pretty good bang for the buck too!” said Michelle with a smile.

Following a successful trip to the USA, Montague switched things up and is currently training at SBG until she is able to travel back to New Zealand.

“I am in Ireland now and the two men I have to thank are the IMMAF President Kerrith Brown and John Kavanagh from SBG Ireland. They synced up, once Kerrith knew weeks ago that my USA visa would expire and with no World Champs in these 2 weeks, I had no place to go before NZ would let me get back home into the MIQ system for isolation. (It is a lottery system with specific dates of entry allowed, should you be lucky enough to get one).

“The team at SBG have been amazing and I am super grateful for the 2.5 weeks I get to spend here! I even managed some commentary action at a fight event which was awesome too!

“I will be back in NZ and out of Isolation on Dec 13th and 20th respectively, so I will be actually working in the family business Viking Kayaks in my build up to Worlds. I will complete my camp in New Zealand. New Zealand is also sending a big squad over to worlds, so we will have coaches and teammates this time!”

The sacrifices Montague has made to compete at IMMAF Championships during the latter half of 2021 are not only remarkable but extremely commendable. She explained her decision, citing the way in which IMMAF tournaments have helped her develop, as one of the reasons why.

“I have shown such commitment to the IMMAFs because they truly progress your skill-set and mindset like nothing else. Having up to 4 fights in one week with all different styles of opponents is so, so valuable. The IMMAF team has really had my back in these past couple of years too, and I am always going to have their back too!”

Assessing the last few months, ‘The Wild One’ has negated the obstacles she has faced exceedingly well and is extremely thankful for the support she has received. 

“The last few months have been full of challenges and gains. The biggest challenge being the “unknown”. Not knowing if worlds would be cancelled until just a few weeks out from the date, not knowing which country I would be in next or even whom I would be staying with. The biggest lessons I have learnt would be to keep an open mind in these situations and to communicate with the right people that can help. I often try to do everything alone, but that is not going to help me over the long run! So having all of the support I have received is the most incredible part of the past 4 months.”

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An IMMAF Year in Review – CEO Densign White summarises the key achievements of the International Federation Thu, 02 Dec 2021 09:32:56 +0000

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Ross Patterson

As the year draws to a close, IMMAF CEO Densign White MBE OLY,  has reflected on the successes and challenges for the federation in 2021. 

COVID has been disruptive with many events cancelled or postponed. But Densign said the availability of vaccines has been a “beacon of hope” for the return of competition and socialising. 

In March, IMMAF held a week-long online technical seminar covering coach education, refereeing, judging, governance and anti-doping. A thought-leadership seminar was also run, with the central theme of weight management. Long-distance running legend, Paula Radcliffe MBE, was the keynote speaker, and the event was attended by over 500 participants. 


Due to COVID, all events were delayed until the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year to allow the situation to stabilise. 

The Youth World Championships took place in July, which was changed at very short notice from Instanbul to Sofia, Bulgaria. Team Ukraine topped the medal table. 

The European Open Championships were held two weeks later in Kazan, Russia. Densign said “without reservation I think most national teams in attendance would agree this was the best IMMAF event to date, at least in terms of presentation and hospitality”. The host team, Russia, enjoyed the most success. 

Prague hosted the first-ever IMMAF World Cup in September. Over 200 athletes entered the competition, which was a great opportunity for athletes transitioning from junior to senior competition to gain experience. 

Board Decisions 

The IMMAF Board of Directors continued to meet online throughout the year, and were able to meet in person at the Prague World Cup in September. 

Key decisions taken by the Board this year include: 

  • Mandatory grades for youth participation in IMMAF events. This ensures a certain level of skill for young athletes, improving safety. 
  • Continental championships will now be restricted to athletes within that region. Due to the growth of the sport and the high numbers of participants, it is no longer necessary for competitions to be open to everyone. 
  • A new rest period policy of 15 minutes between bouts for young athletes has been introduced. 
  • A new transgender policy was agreed upon. 
  • Women’s representation on the Board of Directors will be increased by 30% by 2027.

Commissions and Committees 

The commissions and committees have been working hard on their respective responsibilities. Issues worked on have included athlete welfare, anti-doping, how to protect athletes from exploitation once they turn professional, and the IMMAF transgender policy. 

The UFC Hall of Famer, Forrest Griffin joined the IMMAF Athlete’s Commission. He said: “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’s Women’s Commission has been very active throughout 2021. Several member states have created their own Women’s Commission, and Densign hopes every member will follow suit. He said, “I want to see the day when we have the same number of weight categories for women as we do for men”. 

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 

IMMAF has worked closely with the World Anti-Doping Agency this year. The federation has submitted a new signatory application which is now in the final stages of the Code of Compliance questionnaire. 

Densign made it clear that: “becoming a signatory to the Code is not the end of the process but the beginning, and the overall process will require huge investment of both financial and human resources.”

Members will need to prepare for greater compliance with the Code, including risk assessments, education, in-competition testing and out-of-competition testing. 

Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) 

IMMAF continues to seek recognition by GAISF. The process stalled during the pandemic and the Tokyo Olympics also took up the focus of key figures in that organisation.

However, IMMAF’s work this year with the World-Anti-Doping-Agency will positively contribute towards its case for GAISF recognition. 


Densign said, “our members are the backbone of the IMMAF and I would like to thank all of them for showing so much courage and resilience during these challenging times”. 

He added, “All of the IMMAF staff and volunteers have continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic, and they deserve every recognition and credit for their sterling effort.” 

COVID made 2021 another challenging year, but IMMAF still made huge progress across a range of important areas. The return of competition was a welcome sight to all, and the federation continues to develop the sport of MMA across the globe.

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Teaching youth development is both complex and rewarding Thu, 02 Dec 2021 09:29:52 +0000

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By Andrew Moshanov

It is hardly an overstatement to say that youth is the future. Most combat sports and martial arts clubs are trying to offer classes for young children. It is common to see advertisements such as welcoming kids of all ages.

This is more than a global trend, it is a reflection of the severe competition between the sports for membership. It is a matter of their sustainability and for many clubs, it is a matter of survival.

As for coaches, many are driven by the dream of finding the raw diamond that they can shape so for it to shine like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. However, what comes with recruiting little kids and toddlers into the sports clubs – is a great deal of responsibility. Not to mention that the shaping of a future star like Ronda Rousey in the aspect of coaching is similar to the shaping of a diamond. It is extremely difficult and requires specialized knowledge and technique.

While many coaches are genuinely trying to do their best while running the youth classes, we cannot ignore the fact that many of them must be doing something fundamentally wrong at some stage, given the fact that 80% of the kids drop off the sports around age of 12.

Perhaps, the principle that questions need to be answered are – what to teach and how to teach, and no less important question is – when to teach. At IMMAF, The Youth Development concept is based on understanding a few general global trends and is tailored around the realities of today.

The main point for this is that the level of the general health of the young generation is seeing a decline due to the challenges of the modern era of high tech. Therefore, kids are less active and are consequently less developed. Nowadays what is seen as exceptional talent would have been the norm 50 years ago. But the truth is that everyone is a talent – it just needs to be nurtured and shaped.

Coaches working with the younger generation have a huge challenge on their plate – before they can even think of teaching the sport, they need to address the gaps in the kids’ general development. Therefore, coaches need to be fully equipped with the methodology of identification of these health gaps, trained to be able to design the programs to include the sets of beneficial and appropriate exercises and of course, be the top experts in their field of mixed martial arts.  

There is nothing wrong with adverts such as “Kids ages 4-9 are welcome”. It is great, as long as there is a responsible, knowledgeable and properly trained coach, who will not rush them into early competition chasing the bag of medals. A coach who will take really good care of the development of the young children. 

IMMAF will be rolling out a big program of youth development from 2022. 

We are confident that we can lead the way for many combat sports as we are always prepared to collaborate. Firstly, we will continue to assist national federations to build a task force capable of doing the job. 

Another level of IMMAF coaching competency has been formulated and taken shape as Youth IMMAF Coach. A few pilots took place in Russia earlier this year (20th-22nd of October) and in Romania (21st -22nd of November), with the final one in Greece on December 10th-12th. Now we are ready to offer national federations the next level of coach education and certification program.

Secondly, IMMAF is ready to share with all national federations the best practices and other projects, run by the renown experts in youth development, such as Danny Corr of Northern Ireland and his extraordinary program “Fight-to-Unite”, which helps youngsters involved with crime start in MMA to mitigate violence in the younger generations

Also, Richie Cranny of Australia will be piloting a national youth development project, which can gain momentum and expand on the wave of excitement with the new opportunity of Olympics 2032 coming to Brisbane.

So in short – the future is bright. 

National federations please contact A.M. to book the IMMAF Youth MMA Coach education and certification course in 2022:, or

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IMMAF standout Brendan Allen set for decisive UFC contest this weekend Wed, 01 Dec 2021 08:51:04 +0000

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By James Eakin

Brendan Allen, an IMMAF World Champion in 2015, takes centre stage this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Font vs Aldo. Opening the main card against Chris Curtis, Allen will look to extend his record to 18-4 and further cement his name in the ever-growing UFC Middleweight division. 

Allen has enjoyed a very successful start to his UFC career, with only a single loss coming to the hands of the surging Sean Strickland. At 25, Allen is already one of the best young prospects in the sport, and landmark victories over the likes of Kevin Holland, Tom Breese and Punahele Soriano have brought the eyes of the world to the American’s young career.

Taking it back to 2015, Allen participated in the IMMAF World Championships in the Middleweight class. Three dominant victories later, he was the champion, and with every fight ending via Rear Naked Choke, Allen immediately demonstrated an exciting fight style and killer finishing instincts. 

The story has been much the same in his pro career: 14 finishes in 17 victories, nine of them coming by submission. Allen now trains under the tutelage of Henri Hooft at Sanford MMA in Florida and also holds a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black belt under Daniel Wanderley.

Allen has showcased dramatic improvements in his striking under Hooft and the team at Sanford MMA, and this was on display when he beat Punahele Soriano by unanimous decision in his last fight. Allen was able to control range with a popping jab and utilised body attacks superbly to neutralise the marauding style of Soriano. Despite being only 25 years of age, Allen’s game has a unexpected maturity, which speaks to the quality of IMMAF competition and the way it nurtures athlete technique.

We must give props to Chris Curtis who steps in two weeks after his UFC debut against Phil Hawes to take on Allen. Multiple opponent changes will have made preparation for this bout tricky for Allen, as he originally was scheduled to fight #11 ranked Brad Tavares. A fight against the durable Hawaiian would have been the perfect step up for Allen to get himself into the rankings. However, Tavares unfortunately was forced out with an injury so in came Roman Dolidze, who again pulled out with an undisclosed injury, paving the way for Chris Curtis.

This weekend presents the perfect opportunity for Brendan Allen to score a trademark victory in emphatic fashion, ensuring that he is not denied a ranked opponent for much longer. The American is truly one of the best and brightest talents to come out of the IMMAF talent pool and his skills speak for themselves. Should he defeat Curtis then there cannot be any doubts that he is ready for a ranked opponent in the top 10!

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Cris Cyborg helps to make first MMA Zambia Symposium a huge success Tue, 30 Nov 2021 11:31:48 +0000

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By Ross Patterson

The first MMA Zambia Symposium took place in Lusaka on November 25-28th and has gone down as a massive success. The conference was attended by the current Bellator Featherweight champion, Cris Cyborg, who flew in especially for the event. 

There were workshops on referees and judging, cutmen courses, a lecture on contract law, social media management and how to gain sponsorship, as well as beginner and advanced MMA classes. MMA Zambia ran Anti-Bullying in Schools and Female Self-Defence programmes. 

The women’s national MMA commission was also launched, which will look to encourage more Zambian women and girls into the sport of MMA. Additionally, the Vulnerable Youth programme was piloted, which “uses sport and MMA as a metaphor for life lessons and [raises] awareness on topics including gender-based violence, drugs and alcohol abuse, mental health, and other issues which affect disadvantaged children.” 

Cris Cyborg, one of the greatest female mixed martial artists of all time, was in attendance. She gave a key-note speech followed by a Q&A, and helped to launch the Women’s Commission. Cris shared some insight into how hard mixed martial artists have to work: “I train every day like a job… I like to run before the sun comes up… Then get breakfast and train 10-12 am, then I train again around 5-6… sometimes 6-8:30 pm.” 

When an audience member asked her advice for upcomers and females, especially in Africa? She responded: “I think women’s MMA will grow a lot… You really have to dedicate [yourself] to training, trust in your coach – he’s going to tell you when you’re ready to fight. And believe in and trust the journey. So train hard, do your best, the fight will eventually happen and you’re going to be ready. And for MMA getting bigger in Africa, I think it needs more people like Ben.” 

Benjamin Bush is the President of the MMAZ (Mixed Martial Arts Zambia). He was integral to the success of the Symposium. He was delighted at Cris Cyborg’s attendance, commenting: “This was massive, because Cris for us represents everything we are about in terms of female empowerment and gender-based violence awareness. And it was the perfect opportunity for us to launch the Women’s Commission, which is the first in Africa.” 

Rob Simbowe also attended. Rob is a professional mixed martial artist, competing with EFC in South Africa. He became an orphan at age 9, and lived on the streets for 4 years until he was taken in by the Fountain of Hope Orphanage. He returned to the orphanage, and donated a significant amount out of his own pocket. Benjamin said: “ I was moved to tears when he was explaining his life story to the girls in the dormitory – I think they must have been between the ages of 6-12, maybe 6-14, talking to them about tips for life and how to get ahead. It was really moving. It was really something special.” 

You can find out more about Rob Simbowe’s story here. 

Ben added: “All-in-all, it was a massive success… without IMMAF and MMASA (Mixed Martial Arts South Africa), we would be nowhere… we can’t thank you guys enough.I’m all about using the sport for positive social change, creating role models, and creating a platform for athletes to achieve their dreams through IMMAF, which is one of the best platforms in the world, in sports, period.” 

Commenting on her support for the event, Cris Cyborg said:

“For me, it’s important I really get out of my comfort zone to challenge my mind to help me grow in my career and personal life. Every time I win my fight and my titles, I never feel like I’m defending my belt, I always feel like I’m fighting for it, even after 13 years. That’s how I stay strong. Everyone always tells me, “Cris, I’m gonna take your belt” but it doesn’t worry me because, well I’m going to take my belt too because I have the mindset for it. I’m always learning in my sport and as a person and try to never stop being humble, to share my faith with the world and everyone around me, to give back to the community through teaching female fighters who are coming up, without a lot of experience, that they can do this too even though it’s never gonna be easy…but that doesn’t mean we should stop and give up. 

“Being a world champion is a big responsibility. Whatever place God puts you in, if he makes you a Champion, it’s not to be Champion for yourself, it’s for something else, whether it be to make a difference in the world and to change people’s lives, but I want to be Champion of Hearts for my people….. That’s why I really like what Benjamin is doing here in Zambia with MMAZ (Mixed Martial Arts Zambia) using this sport of MMA. This sport helped me get strong, even though it’s hard, I keep working to come back stronger every day. So, this project helps to empower vulnerable youth and women, and to bring awareness to the sport in this country as a tool for positive social change for its people and their communities. It is this part of my life that I enjoy the most, helping others wherever I am and using my experience and platform as an example to give hope to people of having a better life.”

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Cage Fight Series set to showcase Central European talent after partnering with UFC Fight Pass Fri, 26 Nov 2021 09:46:21 +0000

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By Ross Patterson 

Cage Fight Series has signed a multi-event deal with UFC Fight Pass. The competition will be streamed in 200 countries and territories from the 12th of February, 2022. 

This is a huge step forward for Central European mixed martial arts. Cage Fight Series (CFS) was founded in 2007 by the Ettl brothers – Michael and Gerhard – and has since gone on to become one of the biggest MMA events in Central Europe. Based in Austria, the competition features professional athletes, while also giving amateurs an opportunity to compete in the prelims. 

The Ettl brothers said: “It is a great honour for CFS to partner with UFC Fight Pass. Cage Fight Series has been developing young, local talent since its inception in 2007 and now it crowns its tenth edition with a partnership that will bring global exposure to our athletes.”

Vice President and General Manager of UFC Fight Pass, Crowley Sullivan said: “We’re thrilled to add the Cage Fight Series to UFC Fight Pass… Cage Fight Series is our latest addition to showcase up-and-coming talent from Central Europe.”

Gerhard and Michael Ettl have played an intrinsic role in developing MMA in Central Europe. The brothers founded the Austrian Mixed Martial Arts Federation, entering a team to the very first IMMAF World Championships in 2014. The Austrian team has become a powerful force in IMMAF, competing consistently since 2014, picking up multiple medals along the way. Michael and Gerhard continue to serve as head coaches. 

The exciting new partnership with Cage Fight Series and UFC Fight Pass is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the high level of MMA talent in Central Europe and to grow the sport even further in the region.

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Registration opens for IMMAF 2021 Worlds Fri, 26 Nov 2021 09:44:33 +0000

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation invites its top 8 ranked national teams to enter athletes for the 2021 IMMAF World Championships, when priority online registration opens on Monday 28 November.

Hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, with backing from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and in partnership with Palms Sports, IMMAF’s annual flagship tournament is to take place at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City, near UFC Fight Island (Yas Island). IMMAF’s Worlds in 2019 attracted around 450 athletes from 49 nations, before COVID-19 put a stop to competition in 2020, making this IMMAF’s first Worlds in two years. Returning medallists and new rising stars made their mark this year at the European Championships and World Cup Prague, establishing compelling rivalries expected to play out at a highly competitive World Championships, which will be broadcast globally.

To enable equitable, international representation, IMMAF is operating a more phased registration process this year, as outlined below.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“IMMAF’s World Championships typically allows priority registration for the top 32 ranked nations, their being 32 spaces in the tournament brackets. This to set elite performance as the bar for entry to our premier event. However, with the pandemic shutting down competition in 2019 and 2020 there are continents that have not seen competitive opportunities in two years, and those for whom travel has remained restricted. The registration system in place this year aims to both acknowledge the achievements of the nations that excelled in Europe this year, whilst not excluding burgeoning talent from other regions, to ensure that the event is a true and representative World Championships.”

With IMMAF continental tournaments now closed to athletes from outside the host continent, the World Championships will be IMMAF’s sole premier tier event open to seniors and juniors from all around the world in 2022.

About Registration

This Senior and Junior World Championships is open to all IMMAF Member Federations. There is a limit of 32 participants for each weight category and each federation can enter a maximum of 2 entries per weight category, subject to the following criteria.

  • Phase 1 – 1st Entry for Top 8: Priority registration opens for the top 8 ranked countries (in the IMMAF World ranking list) to enter one (1) athlete in each weight division before the cut-off date of Monday 6 December 2021
  • Phase 2 – 1st Entry for Remaining Nations: From Tuesday 7 December 2021, the brackets will open to all national teams ranked outside the top 8 to enter one (1) athlete in each weight division (that has available spaces) by Tuesday 14 December 2021
  • Phase 3 – IMMAF Wild Card Entry: IMMAF places 2 wild card athletes in each weight  class on Wednesday 15 December 2021
  • Phase 4 – 2nd Entry for Top 8: Entry opens for top 8 ranked teams to enter a 2nd competitor from Friday 17 December 2021 to Saturday 18 December 2021
  • Phase 5 – 2nd Entry for Remaining Nations: On Sunday 19 December 2021, registration opens for teams ranked 9 and below to enter a 2nd competitor on a first-come, first-served basis if any spaces remain available.
  • Final deadline for registration: Thursday 23 December 2021

Following online registration, all registered athletes must be medically precleared and vetted regarding their pro/ am eligibility by IMMAF to confirm their place. Competitor entry is finalised following pre-bout weigh-ins and medical examinations onsite at the event prior to submission into the tournament draw.

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“IMMAF is the platform where athletes should compete, it’s four, five fights a week!” Mokaev reflects on positive IMMAF experience Thu, 25 Nov 2021 09:07:42 +0000

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By Jake Smith

One of IMMAFs finest exports, Muhammad Mokaev, has credited his IMMAF experience with giving him the motivation to achieve his mixed martial arts dream, following the announcement he has signed with the UFC.

In his first interview since signing with the promotion, with Ariel Helwani on MMAFighting’s The MMA Hour, Mokaev discussed the fact he has become the youngest athlete on the  UFC roster but he believes his vast experience more than makes up for his age. 

“My last opponent was 29 years old, so it’s nothing to do with age I believe. People say you have not got your ‘man strength’ but my last opponent was 29 years old with 15 professional fights and I finished him in the second round; he was a very good name also, Blaine O’Driscoll who fights out of SBG Ireland.
“My opponent before that, Abdul Hussain, was an IMMAF Senior champion, 10-0 as an amateur & 7-1 as a professional, and I dominated him also.

“Strength wise, I spar with featherweight guys who are in big organisations and I still take them down and I still keep them down.”

Helwani then went on to ask Mokaev about his extensive amateur background and if he believes up and coming amateurs should take a similar path to him. The flyweight reflected on his time competing with IMMAF fondly. He said: 

“100%, I really want to talk about this. There are a lot of fighters in the UK who fight on UK MMA shows. They then get too excited too much, as they are selling tickets and are on a show, but sportwise, IMMAF is the platform where athletes should compete, it’s four, five fights a week. It’s not easy, these are elite fighters, I believe I had some tougher fights in amateur than in professional. My previous opponent had 15 professional fights, I submitted him in the second round. Whereas In amateur a lot of my fights went the distance.

“This (IMMAF)  is a huge platform, you go to a different country, you get your medical check, you get anti-doping control. If you get knocked down in the fight  but still win, the next day you cannot compete; they are taking care of athletes’ health. There’s  the shin pads, no blood, no cuts and team wise, you get ready mentally for the professional leagues. They have the World Championships in Abu Dhabi  in January and I am going to be there!”

Mokaev’s first IMMAF gold came at the 2018 world championships, an achievement which he said only added to his self belief. 

“I was 18, I hadn’t even become World Champion, I hadn’t  even competed in IMMAF at that time but when I competed in IMMAF at the end of 2018, that gave me a huge push of motivation and I knew I could do it.” 

Mokaev’s relentless work ethic and drive to succeed, alongside his monumental skillset, were major factors in guiding him to so many gold medals. This drive appears to continue into the UFC as he looks to make a bit of history in the process. 

“I said in an interview, you are going to see me at the end of this year (2021) in the UFC and you know my dream is to become the youngest UFC Flyweight champion. I have to go for it.”

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IMMAF launches new course for Cutmen and Cutwomen Tue, 23 Nov 2021 09:31:26 +0000

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By James Eakin

In their ongoing quest for appropriate and safe regulation of amateur MMA, IMMAF is pleased to announce the relaunch of their course for Cutmen and Cutwomen. The course will consist of theory, correct MMA hand wrapping technique and guidance to ensure that participants are able to navigate and work around the MMA safety area.

Under the watchful eye of Robert “Bob” Plant, the course provides the necessary groundwork for individuals looking to be part of the incredibly successful IMMAF Cut Team. Alongside Plant, the IMMAF Cut Team courses are delivered by one of three senior team teachers: Angelo Tarantini (FIGMMA, Italy), Vahagn Petrosyan (MMASP, Poland) and Paulo Benedito (FPLA, Portugal).

Angelo, Vahagn and Paulo hold a wealth of experience between them, having all spent time at numerous IMMAF Championships as a part of the Cut Team. They will be the perfect teachers to those enrol on the course, as they have first-hand experience of the highly demanding IMMAF event atmosphere and supervising an international Cut Team, supporting athletes over a demandingly large number of daily bouts. 

Athlete welfare and safety has always been the top priority of IMMAF and the relaunching of the Cut Team course is a giant step forward in good governance. Furthermore, the introduction of the Cutman Licensing System for MMA in 2019 means that IMMAF is leading the way in appropriate regulation. IMMAF Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov, encapsulated IMMAF’s mission statement, saying:

“The International Mixed Martials Arts Federation (IMMAF) carries out due diligence for its participants and wants to ensure that they’re provided with the best possible service.  All IMMAF accredited and certified specialists are required to refresh their training, to upskill themselves and to revalidate their licenses every 2 years. This includes coaches and cutmen”

Each participant in the new Cut Team course will learn general information about the role, essential jobs and responsibilities, as well as learning about useful operational setups for IMMAF events, focusing on athlete care between every round and after every bout.

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IMMAF President Kerrith Brown meets Greek Olympians Mon, 22 Nov 2021 10:02:47 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

On the third day of his trip to Athens, IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown, met with a selection of Greece’s finest Olympians. 

The members of the Greek Olympic Union support the Panhellenic MMA Federation. They share the ideology that the principle of competition is always the same, no matter what discipline somebody competes in. Brown hopes that MMA can become an Olympic sport, in which athletes from all over the globe can compete at the highest possible level.

The 59-year-old discussed the importance of social media with Greek Olympic committee member and water polo player Voula Kozompoli. The new generation of athletes in modern society invariably have to navigate the hurdles of social media. Sportsmen and women can use this to build their brand and indeed their company’s reputation, but both fighters and promotional outlets must know how to use their platform effectively.

Athletes can permanently damage their careers if they post inappropriate content on their social media pages. Children, in particular, are naive to the dangers of the internet and don’t fully understand that a questionable post can stay with them for the rest of their life.

IMMAF implements and shares social media guidelines with other companies on the best way to keep athletes safe. Educating parents and coaches of youth fighters is of paramount importance to best help our future stars. In addition, IMMAF are also strong anti-doping-campaigners, and they implement their WADA strategy to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The Panhellenic MMA Federation has also implemented strict criteria for head coaches in Greece. According to Weight Lifting World Champion Anna Stroumbou, all potential trainers must undergo IMMAF courses to learn the essential aspects of the job. The fighters must be trained by experts to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Paralympian, Gannis Kostakis, listened intently as Brown discussed the importance of fighter safety. IMMAF utilises strict rules in under-18 contests to protect the athletes, such as no headshots. The most important aspect of the amateur game is to help the fighters develop in a safe setting.

The Brit also discussed the strategy of increasing female participation in sport management. Kozompoli and Wrestling Olympian and General Secretary of the Greek Olympic Union, Voula Zigouri, are working on the Greek Project. Their ambition is to encourage more women to get involved in mixed martial arts.

IMMAF and the Panhellenic MMA Federation both have a lot left to achieve. But it looks like the two sanctioning bodies will work together to change the landscape of the sport for the better. 

President Brown’s trip was not over with the IMMAF President also taking part in an MMA festival on Sunday. With the two federations combining forces, the sky’s the limit, and some of the athletes on display at that event, could one day find themselves competing at the Olympic Games.

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IMMAF President Kerrith Brown travels to Greece to continue global development mission Sat, 20 Nov 2021 21:45:34 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown, met with Panhellenic MMA Federation President, Dimitris Dimitrou, on 19 November to discuss sport development in Greece. The meeting, which took place at the Panathenaic Stadium, in Athens, provided the pair with an opportunity to discuss their strategy for the future of amateur MMA. 

Following their initial introduction, Dimitrou took President Brown to EFL Academy and introduced him to UFC fighter, Andreas Michailidis. The day finished with the two presidents sharing information on anti-doping and WADA education, women’s commission, increasing female participation, and safety in MMA.

President Brown is currently on a trip to the Mediterranean country to try and grow the sport he loves in this territory. His meeting with Dimitriou was of pivotal importance for achieving this goal.

The Greek President has a long history in a variety of different disciplines. He began kung-fu and karate in 1983 before switching to kickboxing, in which he had significant success. Dimitrou won the 1994 Balkan Kickboxing Championships, in addition to several titles in his own country. He also displayed talent in other realms, having struck silver and bronze at the 2010 grappling world championships in two different weight categories.

However, his work outside of competing in competition has also been of paramount importance to the development of the sport in his country. He was a founding member of the Greek kickboxing federation and has been the president of Greece’s MMA Federation since 2003. The established martial artist has organised many events in his country, and things seem to be going from strength to strength. 

In May 2018, IMMAF and WMMAA signed a legally binding affiliation, and since then, MMA in Greece has come on leaps and bounds. They now have 54 IMMAF Level 1 coaches, with further courses taking place in December. There is a strong lobby for the sport of MMA to be recognised under the federation’s leadership.

Dimitriou said: “It was my honour to meet President Kerrith Brown. It is a big thing to learn from his experience. For the people of The Panhellenic MMA Federation, IMMAF’s support is very good for our organisation.” 

President Brown said: “The future growth of IMMAF depends on the determined development work and good governance principles shown by our member federations. It is a pleasure to be here in Athens to see with my own eyes the great steps being taken by our Greek member to grow the sport.”

Brown’s trip is vital for the nation that wishes to compete at IMMAF events next year. The former elite-level judoka practitioner will continue to help them reach their aspirations throughout his visit. Later today, on the second day of a four-night trip, he will meet several Greek Olympians. The visit will culminate in the president attending an MMA festival featuring some of the country’s finest talents.

The Vice President of the Greek federation, Marcos Ntaukakis, who organised the festival, has done a lot for the sport’s progression in his country. The highly educated martial arts enthusiast has become the first promoter to stage fights in this part of the world, and his three academies have produced UFC calibre athletes. He has revolutionised MMA in Greece by securing national television deals for his events.

Ntaukakis wants Greece to become a standout nation in the amateur and professional ranks. But alongside Brown and the entirety of IMMAF, his ultimate dream is for MMA to become an Olympic sport.

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Irman Smajić keeps it classy as he heads into showdown with Hajdarpašić Fri, 19 Nov 2021 12:18:17 +0000

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By Jake Smith

IMMAF 2017 World, European & Asian Open Champion Irman ‘The People’s Champ’ Smajić is out to prove good sportsmanship and professionalism are two of the most important factors in the sport ahead of an upcoming clash.

The chair of IMMAF’s Athlete Commission faces Nermin Hajdarpašić in the co-main event on Fight Rush 10, which takes place this Saturday (November 20th). Eyes have been drawn to the bout due to the nature of Hajdarpašić’s rowdy behaviour leading up to the contest, as he tries to draw a reaction out of Smajić at every opportunity.

Discussing the build up, Smajić admitted he’s unsure of what has provoked Hajdarpašić’s behaviour, but believes he may just believe that you need to behave badly to succeed in MMA. He said:

“I honestly don’t know where this bad blood is coming from.

“He transferred from boxing to MMA a while ago and I think he has been watching too much TV and thinks he’s like Conor McGregor or thinks he has to be a big mouth to do this sport… It’s either that, or he’s totally insecure.

“He does have a big mouth and I really don’t want people to believe mixed martial artists need to behave like that before a fight. I want people to recognise MMA as a good sport, with good sportsmanship.

“As chairman of IMMAF’s Athlete Commission, I really do not want to be connected to the bad side of the sport. I don’t need to respond to that (Hajdarpašić’s antics), I just need to be a good sportsman and concentrate on the fight.”

Emotions can run high and tempers can flare during a fight week, but ‘The People’s Champ’ is focussed on maintaining a cool head and proving to fans and up-and-coming MMA stars alike, that bad mouthing and bravado isn’t required to achieve something in the sport.
“I am trying to keep my calm because I don’t want it to be like the stereotype sport some people ‘think’ it is: this idea that MMA is just people trying to kill each other and just about the bad side of the sport.

“I want to lift the good side because we have to show it to the young athletes and the fans. You can put on a show and everything but you’re going to meet in the cage and of course it’s hard to keep calm but we are professionals. I think that this is just his insecurities or maybe he’s afraid?

“I am trying to just think about other things and be as much of a professional athlete as I can be at this moment; keeping calm and preparing for the fight.”

The card features several other IMMAF alumni including Alexander Lööf, Jonny Touma & 2019 European Open Bronze medalist Enrique Hecher Sosa. Fight Rush 10 can be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.

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Miroslav Mlyncek shows why IMMAF priority is on youth development Fri, 19 Nov 2021 12:17:08 +0000

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By James Eakin

One of the defining features of IMMAF competition is the emphasis on youth. Properly regulated, safe competition layouts have allowed young athletes to gain the vital experience needed to succeed with a professional career in MMA. As we look ahead to the IMMAF Youth World Championships in 2022, we shift our focus to a remarkable young athlete fighting out of SAI Club in Martin, Slovakia, Miroslav Mlyncek. When asked about his Martial Arts background, Mlyncek answered:

“When I was 4 years old I started training in SAI Club Martin with my brother. At the beginning it was more movement games but fluently it passes to BJJ. At 6 years old I had my first BJJ fight. Until now, I have had around 140 fights in BJJ. I also started with Muay Thai and after one-year I started with MMA. In Muay Thai I have 3 fights with 2 wins and 1 loss. In MMA I now have 9 fights with 8 wins and one loss.”

Now 14 years of age, Miroslav Mlyncek has already won medals in IMMAF competition, winning the Bronze medal in the Youth C (Male) 52 kg (115 lbs) at the 2021 Youth World Championships. Mlyncek successfully went 3-1 in the round robin tournament, before being passed through to the next stage. 

The next stage of the competition saw two groups of four athletes compete against each other, with the top two athletes from each group advancing to the knockout stages. Mlyncek put on an incredible display, gaining decision wins over all three of his opponents, which included stand out performances over the top two teams in the Youth Worlds. Victories over Russia’s Gevorg Ambartsumian and Ukraine’s Dmytro Kolomiichuk, as well as a win over Lebanon’s Abdulrahman al Baba made Mlyncek an athlete to watch. Mlyncek described his thoughts at defeating opponents from the top 2 teams in the world, saying:

“In this time, I´m only hungry for fighting. I don´t think about who I´m fighting. I want to fight as much as possible. Of course, it’s a great feeling to beat opponents from countries with such a big history in martial arts. It´s showing me that we are going the right way in training.”

Unfortunately for Mlyncek, he would lose his semi-final bout to Ukraine’s Oleksii Bolbochan, who would eventually go on to win the gold medal. Mlyncek, who was the first Slovak fighter and medallist in IMMAF was overjoyed with his performances saying:

“It’s amazing. I´m the first Slovak fighter and medallist in IMMAF and I’m really proud that I can bring this medal to my country and my club.”

Mlyncek now looks ahead to the 2022 Youth World Championships, laying out his plans for the upcoming competition, stating:

“Youth Worlds 2021 was a great opportunity for me to compare my skills with the best fighters of the world. In 2022 I want to keep in training progress, compete as much as possible and come to Youth Worlds 2022 for gold in my category.”

Mlyncek is just one of many exciting prospects coming through in the Slovakian youth team, which also includes 2021 Youth A featherweight champion Slavka Holubjakova. We look forward to seeing both young talents excel at the 2022 IMMAF Youth World Championships!

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IMMAF World Champion Lee Hammond makes his professional debut with Heroes Fight League this weekend Fri, 19 Nov 2021 12:15:44 +0000

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By Ross Patterson

IMMAF alumni Lee Hammond makes his professional debut this weekend with Heroes Fight League in Bucharest, Romania. The 25-year-old Dubliner will be competing in the Lightweight division against Romanian, Ionuț Brostic. 

Hammond won a bronze and silver medal at the IMMAF European Championships (2015/2016), then went on to win a gold medal at the World Championships in 2018. Lee is known for his high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boasting a brown belt under SBG’s John Kavanaugh. In the 2018 World Championships, Hammond hit an extremely rare submission, later trademarking it as a “Hammoplata”, which you can watch here. 

Lee’s commitment to the sport was exemplified when he was hospitalised in 2017 with a ruptured bowel. He came back from his life-threatening injury to win the gold medal (and the hearts of many watching) at the World Championships. His efforts led to a nomination for the Senior Male Athlete of the year award in 2019. 

He is facing tough competition in Brostic, who is undefeated (4-0), and has 3 submission wins on his record. Brostic will have the Romainian crowd on his side, so Lee will be looking to spoil the party. If the two athletes hit the canvas, it will be fascinating to see who can get the upper hand in the grappling exchanges. 

IMMAF alumni are enjoying huge successes at the moment. Mohammad Mokaev – a multi-time IMMAF World Champion – this week signed a contract with the UFC, making him the youngest fighter on the roster. 

We hope Lee Hammond will enjoy similar success in his professional debut this weekend. Best of luck, Lee.

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IMMAF alumni Dudakova keeps win streak alive at Open Fighting Championship 12 Thu, 18 Nov 2021 09:33:27 +0000

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By Jake Smith

IMMAF 2019 European Gold Medalist Viktoryia Dudakova continued her perfect form as a professional mixed martial artist moving to 5-0-0 and collecting her first professional title at Open Fighting Championship 12.

Since competing in the professional ranks, Dudakova has adapted her game exceptionally and displayed a tremendous ground game accompanied with a fierce grappling prowess, securing four of her five victories by way of submission.

In her Grand Prix Final against Marina Shutova, the 22-year-old’s forward pressure and slick takedowns were on display once again. Dudakova took the centre of the cage from the first bell and it took only 30 seconds for her to land a clean double leg takedown, sending the bout to the mat. 

She quickly established a  dominant position but was unable to advance her position any further. The two ended up back on their feet for a matter of seconds before Dudakova landed a trip and took the bout straight back to the floor where she again looked to assert her dominance on the ground. 

However, Shutova closed her guard, nullifying Dudakova’s ground game until the referee decided to stand them back up. This was followed by another takedown attempt from Dudakova which ultimately led to Shutova establishing the more dominant position. Unphased, Dudakova showed she was as calm and collected defending as she was attacking and managed to work her way comfortably to her feet. 

The opening 60 seconds of the second round were the total opposite to the first, with both women opting to stand and strike.

Dudakova quickly resorted back to gameplan in which she had much success in the opening stanza and looked to establish another takedown. Although not securing a clean take down, the forward pressure forced Shutova up against the cage from where Dudakova instantly started looking for an opening to take the back. The two tussled for cage position before Dudakova once again got the bout to the mat. 

Once back to her feet, Shutova attempted to herself from the cage wall but gave her back in the process which led to Dudakova quickly locked in a standing rear naked choke and got the tap. 

Following her convincing victory, Dudakova took to the mic to thank her team and wish her team mate well in the upcoming IMMAF World Championships, she said: 

“I don’t want to hold you for too long. I just need to thank my large team for helping me (coach, doctors, sparring partners). Also I want to thank my friend Asaf who’s preparing to participate in IMMAF’s World Championships in January. Thank you all. This victory is ours!”

The Open Fighting Championship platform has given Dudakova a great opportunity to establish herself on the professional scene as there are few organisations that regularly feature women in Russia. Due to the difficulty of finding regular opponents, the next logical step for Dudakova could well be a call up from a major global promotion such as the UFC or Bellator.

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Former IMMAF star Muhammad Mokaev signs with the UFC Wed, 17 Nov 2021 18:20:07 +0000

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) congratulates multiple-time IMMAF gold medallist, Muhammad Mokaev, on his signing today with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The Team England veteran said: “I’m very excited to sign with the UFC. I don’t want to be just a UFC fighter, I want to become the youngest champion in its history. Right now, I’m the youngest fighter on UFC’s roster.

“IMMAF has helped me to prepare myself to this level. I’ve been told that it was huge that I had 4 professional fights within 4 months at BRAVE FC, but I have told people that at IMMAF amateur level, we have  4 – 5 fights in 1 week and the opponents aren’t any weaker than professional fighters. I believe that IMMAF is the route to reach the bigger leagues like UFC.”

As an amateur MMA athlete attaining a record of 23-0, Muhammad Mokaev blazed a trail to set new standards. His sponsors and fanbase eclipsed that of many established professionals to include the patronage of HH Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad of Bahrain, and he had international promoters lining up their bids at the close of his IMMAF career, which was cut shorter than planned by the pandemic.

Born in Dagestan, Mokaev honed his craft after discovering wrestling and MMA at a young age after his family moved to north of England when he was 12. While also representing the British wrestling team at an international level, Mokaev became a rising star of the UK MMA scene and after his 18th birthday excited fans as he launched himself on the IMMAF platform.

Dedicating two years to IMMAF competition with Team UK, and later Team England, the men’s bantamweight prodigy earned back-to-back gold medals at the Junior IMMAF World Championships in 2018 and 2019 and won the 2019 Jr European Open title to become IMMAF’s top ranked pound-for-pound junior. This was followed by a successful senior division debut that saw Mokaev cruise to gold at the 2020 Oceania Open. During his IMMAF tenure, the amateur prodigy well proved his talent in the international arena, besting top contenders from Sweden, Russia, Ireland, Bulgaria and Japan. Highlight matches include an inspiring trilogy of bouts with Japanese up-and-comer, Reo Yamaguchi.

Mokaev’s amateur successes were not just confined to MMA, as be boasts accolades that include six-time British Wrestling Champion, two-time ADCC British Open gold medallist and European Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu Champion. In 2021, Mokaev was awarded indefinite leave to remain in the UK, allowing him to at last represent TeamGB in World Wrestling.

In the professional MMA ranks, the  21-year old rising star has proved no less successful, standing undefeated to date with a record of 7 -0.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“Mo is an exemplar of IMMAF’s work to help athletes reach their highest potential. His signing at such a young age by UFC is a real endorsement of the IMMAF pathway and provides a milestone for the organisation which is built around developing the next generation of athletes. We at IMMAF are immensely proud of Mo and wish him every success. We will be watching his career closely.”

WATCH Muhammad Mokaev’s IMMAF bouts at

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Cup of Kharkiv unveils new talent and gives athletes a clear pathway to the Ukrainian Championships Tue, 16 Nov 2021 21:30:39 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

Kharkiv’s best young talents battled it out at the regional tournament over the weekend of November 13-14. The event took place under the watchful eye of Anton Blank, the Interim President of IMMAF’s National Member Federation in Ukraine. 

Between 150-200 of the region’s best fighters competed at the event, which featured multiple age categories from 10-11-years upwards. 

The champions in their respective weight categories will now get an opportunity to compete against the best in their country at the National Championships in December. 

Ukraine performed exceptionally well at the 2021 IMMAF Youth World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic. The eastern European nation picked up 18 gold medals and topped the podium. They are now hoping to ride that momentum of success into the 2022 IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi. As the federation is recognised by the Sport Ministry, an official Ukrainian squad can be selected at the National Championships.

Blank spoke to IMMAF after the event, summarising the highlights from the Cup of Kharkiv. You can also watch the interview here:

Can you talk us through the event at the weekend?

Blank said: “We had all ages, and it was interesting to see the level of the fighters because most of them were newcomers. It was good to see them because they all had their own style, but they were still good in all aspects of the game, whether it be striking, grappling, or wrestling. We had a lot of exciting fights. All-day long I was sitting, watching the fights. It was very interesting.”

The next generation of fighters coming through seem to incorporate all the different aspects of MMA. Do you think we’ll see more of that, as people from a young age start trying all the various disciplines that make up the sport? 

“Yes, the game changes, and now we have not only new fighters, but new coaches as well. The next wave of trainers were MMA fighters themselves. They’ve learnt the sport through MMA, not just wrestling or striking. Now that they’re coaches, they can teach the next generation of fighters, and we will see a new product. I also think that the athletes watch UFC, they watch how they train and fight. I think this helps them learn.”

You had a wide variety of age categories competing at the tournament. Were there any that stood out?

“It was interesting to see the youngest fighters because they were fighting like they were professionals. If you watch how they walk to the octagon, they walk like superstars. Many of them have their own style, but someone was fighting in the stance of Conor McGregor, and some others were always trying to take their opponent down like Khabib. The seniors are different because we can see that they are thinking a little bit more. The juniors and young athletes are like actors, they act like they are in a movie, but seniors are more serious. There is something interesting about every age category.”

You say you had some athletes trying to imitate McGregor whilst others were trying to imitate Khabib. Which style do you think will be more effective as MMA progresses?

“This question is the reason why MMA exists, because we are still trying to find out the answer. I think it depends on the athletes because some of them have long arms and legs, so they move good and they are very quick and light on their feet, so they can keep distance and throw punches. Whilst others have short arms, but they are powerful, so they like to close the distance and wrestle. I think it depends on the athlete and the physical abilities that he has as an individual.”

The National Federation of MMA Ukraine searches all over the country for the best possible athletes. Do you think you found any future IMMAF representatives at the Cup of Kharkiv?

“The athletes that won over the weekend will be taken to the National Cup. It is there that we will really see their level. I think there were some interesting fighters, but they need more practice. We can understand their level if they have good opponents. In the Cup, we will see if they can be in the national team or not.”

Your events feel like massive PPV cards. How did the athletes adapt to fighting on the big stage?

“I think the young athletes think that this is not real, it is like a game or a movie. When they watch UFC events they dream about getting there, so they prepare mentally. Now we have the internet so we can watch all the fights and events that we want. So, I think the fighters watch a lot, so they can feel part of it going into the tournament.”

Did anyone win any bonuses?

“Yesterday we gave two prizes. In the seniors we had one welterweight fighter who became champion. He had a lot of fights with nice opponents. His fights were good, and he finished them all in the first round. He ended each contest in a different way, so we gave him a bonus. The other guy was a bantamweight and he also became champion. In his semi-final, he fought a guy who had won the silver medal at the IMMAF Youth World Cup. But he still beat him. It was a tough fight, very close and difficult. But he won, so he got a bonus too. I think his opponent was too relaxed, he wasn’t expecting to find such a difficult opponent at a regional event, which is why he lost. But the guy who won, he was very serious, he believed in himself.”

Is there anything else for us to look forward to?

“The National Cup will be the last event of the year in Ukraine, and we hope to see the interesting fighters who can represent Ukraine in national tournaments. We also hope for good news from IMMAF about the status of the international federation in our amateur sport. Lastly, we hope to finish this year with the understanding that 2022 will be a big one for amateur MMA.”

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As Irish Youth Champs approaches Jack Corr gives IMMAF update on Fight to Unite scheme Mon, 15 Nov 2021 09:18:50 +0000

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By James Eakin

As we approach the Irish Cadet National MMA Championships in December, the time seems right for an update on the work of Danny and Jack Corr; men who have done so much for young people in Northern Ireland. 

As the founder and chairman of the Ulster MMA Association, Danny Corr wanted to remove the stigma of violence surrounding MMA, and established a community project called Fight to Unite to put youth at the heart of his projects. In 2018, Corr won the Changing Lives Through MMA award at the 2018 IMMAF amateur MMA awards and since then has helped many young people avoid the pathway to crime. 

Fight to Unite builds self-confidence, and gives employment opportunities to young people. Funded by Comic Relief, the program has been the perfect platform for young people to learn about disciplines of MMA that can be translated into everyday life. 

Not only is Danny Corr continuing to do exceptional work in his native country, but he is now also supporting  IMMAF’s Youth Development Commission chair Richie Cranny as he develops a new Youth project in Australia which aims to tackle mental health issues amongst the young.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Danny’s son Jack Corr, who himself is a member of IMMAF’s Athletes’ Commission and is one of the key figures in the Fight to Unite Programme. 

What personal benefits did you see from being a part of the Fight to Unite scheme? 

Jack: I worked there for 2 years, working with Nationalist and Unionist groups and schools, as well as homeless groups. We originally worked with the charity Fight for Peace but since 2019 we have been running a programme inside ZKJ Gym. The Fight to Unite scheme allowed participants to gain qualifications in Maths and English. I thought it was good mixing personal development with training. When I started doing the youth work side, I realised that a lot of kids weren’t getting the sport side of a regular development program. When you add MMA to it, it gives kids a different kind of buzz. These young people hear all their mates are going to it so it gives them excitement through the sport of MMA. It gives kids with an addictive personality an opportunity to focus on something other than recreational rioting. 

Looking ahead to the Irish Cadet Championships and IMMAF Championships, how have amateur programmes helped young athletes get the competition they want?

Jack: Ciaran Clarke and Paul Byrne have started a cross border programme at their own gym with the All-Ireland governing body. I would say there are about 4 or 5 participants who are having their first amateur bout soon in a competition which is a stage below the Irish Cadet Championships. 

What do you think about the structure of IMMAF competition?

Jack: I think we need more IMMAF style competition in countries because the shows are great. One of the guys from our programme fought at the Arnold Classic, Ciaran Maskey and another girl, Aine fought there. He started with the youth programme and she made her debut at the Arnold Classic. 

What are the future plans for Irish amateur MMA? 

Jack: My dad (Danny Corr) has four competitions booked starting in January from high level amateur all the way to novice level in the style of the Arnold Classic. More competitions like that will be good because we can have them more frequently. Shows aren’t that regular, and we want to make the competition more frequent. Fighters should care more about the experience, not their record. 

Not only has Corr Snr already achieved incredible things within the world of amateur MMA, but he was also awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in 2021. His work continues to marvel and will always be of inspiration to the masses.

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How MMA helped IMMAF’s Sara Jóźwiak disarm knifeman Fri, 12 Nov 2021 10:09:24 +0000

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By Ross Patterson

Sara Jóźwiak was 15 when, while shopping with her mother, an aggressive man blocked her way home. The situation then escalated when he pulled out a knife, and threatened passersby. With the help of two other men, Sara managed to take the man to the ground, control him with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques, and prevent him from escaping until the police arrived. Her martial arts experience allowed to her to protect herself, her mother, and everyone else in the area*. 

Sara is an IMMAF European Championship silver medallist. Representing Poland, she is a respected mixed martial artist. And at just 22-years-old, has a bright future in the sport. 

She described the terrifying situation with the knife-wielding man in detail: “Two men saw it and decided to help, so we all took it (the knife) away from him and put him to the ground… He was trying to escape so I caught him with a BJJ grip and held him until the police arrived.”

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was first developed by Helio Gracie. Helio was a relatively small man, and not physically strong. This meant he focussed on developing techniques which used leverage instead of power. When his son, Royce Gracie, entered the early UFC events, he was able to defeat much larger opponents. This proved to the world that size and strength were not what determined a fight’s outcome, but that the most important element was technique. 

Sara used these principles when she took down and controlled the armed man. At 15-years-old, she was far smaller than her opponent, yet was able to control his movement and stifle his escape. This is the beauty of martial arts: those with superior technique prevail, regardless of size. 

“Martial arts gave me the self-confidence to handle unexpected danger and not panic. Also, [through] MMA training, I’ve learned a lot of techniques which might be useful for self-defense… Self-defense is not about specific techniques, in training we are learning how to face an opponent in a real fight, so in some aspects it is similar to a street fight with [an] aggressor. Of course, the best solution is to avoid a clash but this isn’t always possible.” – Sara Jóźwiak 

The International Mixed Matial Arts Federation set up its Women’s Commission in 2020. Its goals include encouraging women to practice MMA, promote gender equality, and enourage women to gain leadership positions in IMMAF and its federations. The Chair of the Commission, Hayzia Bellem, said: “It is our great ambition to highlight the beauty of women in Mixed Martial Arts. Allowing women to show their strength and power sends a great message to future generations.” 

There is still some stigma attached to women competing in martial arts, which IMMAF is dedicated to changing. The President of IMMAF, Densign White MBE puts it: “IMMAF is at the cutting edge in developing programmes that engage women and girls to be coaches, participate in all levels in competition including refereeing and judging, to be administrators and the leaders of tomorrow”. 

Sara was just 15, but she had the courage, skills, and clarity of mind to stop a violent man. MMA is hugely empowering for women, and IMMAF is committed to engaging as many as possible in the sport. 

If you’d like to learn more about how IMMAF is trying to engage women and girls in MMA, Jorden Curran explains the federation’s work in detail here.  

And if you’d like to follow Sara Jóźwiak, you can do so on Instagram

*We do not encourage anyone to confront a violent person with a knife. Even a high-level black-belt’s first option should be to run away. Sara did not have this choice.” Statement of Polish police.

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President of latest full Member Venezuela hails IMMAF’s “correct governance” Fri, 12 Nov 2021 10:08:16 +0000

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By Jake Smith

Mauricio Delgado Cartaya, the President of the Federación Venezolana de Artes Marciales Mixtas, has expressed his delight at Venezuela becoming a fully fledged IMMAF member federation.

Venezuela has been in and around the global MMA scene for many years, President Delgado explained how their affiliation with IMMAF came about and why he believes IMMAF are the leading organisation when it comes to amateur mixed martial arts. He said:

“After joining WMMAA we were directed to apply to IMMAF after their merger and from that moment our vision towards MMA changed completely. We found a well structured organization, which demonstrates within its statutes very important details for the correct governance of the sport.”

Not only were the statues and unified structure a primary part of the decision, he also explained how health and safety being paramount at all IMMAF events was also a big pulling factor.

“A splendid regulation divided into categories that protects the physical and mental integrity of athletes, promoting their development in a systematic way within the corresponding progression.”

Following a period as an observational member, FEVAMM is one of the latest batch of federations to become a full member of IMMAF;  an achievement President Delgado is extremely proud of. South America has been a hotbed for combat sports talent throughout the years and  he sees the step as a further statement of intent for the nation to compete at the highest level of amateur MMA whilst working on their continual development as a nation as they look to forge out their own MMA path.

“Being a full member within IMMAF shows that we are part of a democratic organization.  It is a great surprise and excellent news to know that IMMAF values ​​our effort to be better people and better leaders every day.

“Institutionality there is a necessary protocol in every sport that guides its actions based on statutes and code of ethics.

“We hope to continue adding achievements and have the necessary conditions to represent our flag in the next world championships.”

Mixed martial arts is not the first combat sport President Delgado has helped develop in the South American nation, having previously been involved with the growth and development of both boxing and kickboxing in the region. Comparing the growth of MMA to other combat sports in Venezuela, he said: “the development of MMA in Venezuela has occurred in a way that can be measured empirically.

“Before the launch of the Liga Amateur Alianza MMA Venezuela, the activities were carried out on an invitational basis by different groups. There was no open national body who could manage to concentrate the national enrollment in the same scenario.

“That work has been arduous and without rest, but the fruits harvested already far exceed the effort and perseverance invested. Much work remains to be done and we are willing to accomplish every step to become the world’s largest exporter of mixed martial artists.”

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Cup of Kharkiv will be another big step in the development of MMA in Ukraine Thu, 11 Nov 2021 09:29:54 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

Anton Blank, the Interim President of IMMAF’s National Member Federation of MMA in Ukraine, is excited about hosting the Cup of Kharkiv on November 13-14. The best fighters in the region will compete against one another for more than just local bragging rights.

The Ukrainian sport leader expects find athletes to compete at the national championships in December, with the potential to represent their country at the 2022 IMMAF World Championships should they win, as the federation is recognised by Ukraine’s sport ministry. 

Between 150-200 of the region’s best fighters will compete at the event, which will feature multiple age categories from 10-11 years old onwards. It is unclear how many fans will watch the championships live due to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, but there will be a live stream of the event for those who can’t make it in person. 

Ukraine performed exceptionally well at the 2021 IMMAF Youth World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. With an incredible 18 gold medals, Ukraine’s team topped the table.

Blank spoke to IMMAF earlier this week about the importance of the event. 

How do you find athletes for IMMAF events?

He said: “In our national team, there were many young athletes from different parts of Ukraine. We are looking in different cities, towns and even villages; we’re looking for fighters from all regions to take to the World Championships. We understand that youth development is very important to IMMAF and our country. We are the best in the world in the under 18’s category, and this is a tournament in which we can develop further.”

Are you looking forward to seeing a new wave of Ukrainian prospects at the tournament?

“I’m excited to see the new talents; we’re trying to get all the martial arts clubs to compete, even if they compete in other disciplines. We will show them that IMMAF rules are the best to use. I know that these young athletes will be in the national team next year. In addition, we will announce a new head of the regional federation at the event. Our previous head is now an IMMAF judge, and he is concentrating on that.”

How will competing at the Cup of Kharkiv help fighters improve and prepare themselves for the big stage?

“We are trying to make our athletes feel like they are taking steps to become superstars. We’re offering bonuses for things like good technique, amazing fights, spectacular moves. We want all events in Ukraine to be like the UFC because some of the athletes will become MMA megastars. The events we put on are beautiful because we want the fighters to feel like they are in the right place. This will help develop the competitors because they will be motivated by the big fight feel, even if it is at a regional event.”

Do you think this tournament can produce some superstars of the future, and could there even be a UFC champion coming out of this event in ten years?

“It is our dream to make a Ukrainian UFC champion. We understand to do this, we must implement the correct structure within the federation. We must open gyms, make big events and find the best talent from all over our big country. We do what we do because these young athletes have to feel this dream. If they don’t have a dream, they will not go far. So this is why we’re trying to show them how far they can go with us and with IMMAF. That’s why it’s important to do small events like they are big.” 

How do you manage to give the events that big fight feel?

“We have good lights and good sound systems. We try and introduce them to the big stage so that they feel like they are someone whom both the sport and the federation need.”

Where do you think Ukrainian MMA will be in ten years?

“After our success at the IMMAF Youth World Cup, many more young athletes want to train in MMA because their parents understand that there is a future for MMA in Ukraine. This is important because we need to start from when they are children. Our youth development showed at the World Cup, and if we do not lose these fighters when they become seniors, they will be huge in five years. Some of them can turn professional and this is what we want, to get a UFC Champion. We will not stop. In several years, we’ll see that some of the amateur world champions we have can become senior champions and even UFC athletes.”

How proud are you of all the work you’re doing with the Ukranian federation and is there anything you’re really excited to see at this weekend’s event?

“I am proud that we are part of IMMAF and that we have changed the system of judging the fights to be like IMMAF. We have several officials in IMMAF events, and we have outstanding referees inside Ukraine. So officials at our events are of a very high standard; we know that every fight is judged how it has to be judged. It was a good year for Ukraine, but I understand that we still have a lot of work to do.”

What would you like to see change in the amateur game going forward?

“I hope that next year many more countries will become a more active part of the IMMAF family. In particular, I would like to see countries like the USA, Brazil and Thailand bring top fighters to events because they have outstanding competitors, and the higher the standard, the more the athletes can develop. In addition, I hope MMA national federations in all countries will receive recognition from the national ministries of sport so they are regulated properly. Most importantly, I hope that next year we can make more progress in recognition as an Olympic sport.”

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My experience in the UAE shows why time and experience are the keys to becoming a successful MMA official Tue, 09 Nov 2021 09:43:23 +0000

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By Marc Goddard

At the start of last month, I visited the United Arab Emirates in order to deliver their first IMMAF Referee & Judges course under the recently affiliated UAEMMAF. As covered in my last piece for, it’s really satisfying to see countries, who are still in their early development stages when it comes to mixed martial arts, striving to ensure they are receiving the best official’s training possible. The demand was so high in the UAE, I’ve been back there this week to deliver a second course!

The first trip was really good, there were 21 people, I usually limit it to 20 as I need to get around everyone and there is obviously a wide range of experience. You get some people who are not necessarily new to the sport but people who are new to the officiating side. And then those who have had a lot of experience… but it doesn’t always correlate.

It is all about finding the right people. You have a lot of people in the sport of MMA who are officials, but who have never been vetted. It is not their fault but they have just got on with it, especially in different countries, with different cultures, where the sport is portrayed and administered a little differently. With the IMMAF training, we try to offer uniformity by taking the unified rules, both professional and amateur and applying them to educate people. By and large it is very well received. Of course, for some people it is the first time they have been taught or assessed having worked for 10 years. Sometimes they think they are doing something that is correct, so when they find out it is not correct, it’s a bit of a reality check. But that is what the training is about – helping to get everyone onto a level platform.

Then you have the other side of the coin, the people who are brand new to officiating. They may not have the experience but once they have spent time on a course, they leave with the right information and sometimes, invariably, it is better. If I can get someone at the start of their journey, and come share and explain the right information, it sets them up for a better future.

There has always been this thing about MMA where some people think they know it all because they grew up around it, while others want to know it all. Each brings their own challenges.

There are two things you cannot ignore though, time and experience; and they go hand in hand. The importance of these courses, like I said, is to get people onto a level playing field. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? And that’s okay. There are a million and one things that I don’t know. I set out my stall to be a specialist in mixed martial arts and teaching other officials, so it’s a passion for me.

When we put on these seminars, clearly there is going to be an expense involved for participants but that expense is an investment in them, as individuals. You may spend 5, 10, 15 years, maybe more being an official so you can recoup that. As in every area of life, what you get out is directly proportional to what you put in. The harder you work, the ‘luckier’ you become, funny that.

There are some countries, which are much more developed in the sport than these newer nations, who could really take a leaf out of their book. I’m going to throw my own country somewhat under the bus here. The amount of messages I get week after week after week ‘when can you do an official’s course?’ ‘I want to do an official’s course’, I will announce one, in one city, and then the response will be ‘Can’t you do one in my city?’ That doesn’t show real commitment.

‘I really want to be an official!’ No you don’t. Everyone is in love with the end result, but not the work and effort it takes to get there. You have got to put in the work. I wouldn’t go to university, to be a lawyer, and expect to learn everything in 48 hours. I would spend three or four years immersing myself, learning from and talking to experts, getting all the information I need.

For the inaugural UAE refereeing and judges course I had people flying in from other countries. In the UK, If you cannot commit to driving 45 minutes or an hour to attend one of the courses, then you do not have what it takes; that’s the harsh reality of it.

It’s like people want this course, at the bottom of their road. The responsibility is on the individual and the commitment to the course, or lack thereof in some cases.

‘I want to be an MMA referee?’ Great, what are you going to do about it? Because a one day course with me doesn’t cut it. I don’t spend a day with a fireman then start running up the ladders the following Monday putting out fires.

It is an educational shift and something that can only be fully achieved through time and experience and people need to understand that if they want something, they need to invest themselves. Yes that can mean a financial investment, time investment, dedication and discipline but that is what you have to do.

MMA officiating is a serious, serious role and that requires serious, serious input from people; that is what everyone who is having half a thought about getting involved with the officiating side of the sport has got to realise. 

I thoroughly enjoy imparting my knowledge and experience on to the up and coming officials and I believe the IMMAF official’s course is the perfect way to do this.

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IMMAF alumni Danni Neilan and Ciaran Clarke shine at Bellator 270 Mon, 08 Nov 2021 16:26:27 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

It was a mixed set of results in Dublin for the IMMAF alumni at Bellator 270. The 3Arena played host to the event where fans were welcomed back for the first time since February 2020. The audience certainly made it known they were back as the Irish crowd had the place rocking like they always do.

The four former IMMAA representatives, they all impressed and showed why they were fighting on such a large platform. Event opener Stephen Costello looked strong in his fight, giving it his all and had the better of his opponent on a lot of occasions. His striking and grappling looked like it levelled up from when we saw him at the IMMAF World Cup, however, he was caught in a heel hook in the second round which forced the tap. 

Co-Main Event fighter James Gallagher also fell short via submission but he stepped up to fight a very high calibre fighter in Patchy Mix and did not look out of place. The young fighter showed us he is certainly at that level of competition. 

As for Danni Neilan and Ciaran Clarke, both fighters stole the show, securing huge wins that got the Irish fans roaring. IMMAA coach and 2017 World Silver medalist Danni Neilan was up first.

Neilan dominated her fight throughout, it was a well-rounded strong performance. Her opponent threatened with an armbar in round one but outside of that, we got to see Neilan secure takedowns at will. Her striking looked sharp too, especially in round two when she dropped Kerouche. 

The final round saw Neilan finish things off with relentless ground and pound late in the round to secure her first TKO/KO win.

In her post-fight interview, Neilan spoke about her involvement with the amateur side of the sport in Ireland. Highlighting Kiya O’Sullivan as the next women’s MMA star to watch in the Irish amateur ranks. 

The last of the bunch was Ciaran Clarke who closed the prelim card in style. The five-time IMMAA representative’s experience showed as he dealt with all kinds of adversity in his pursuit of glory. Across from him was a tough Jordan Barton that landed big shots throughout and was always looking to finish the fight. Clarke was patient though, even after eating a knee that would put most people to sleep, he managed to stay in it and bring the fight into his world. 

The final round was where we saw the magic happen and all those years of hard work showed. Clarke was able to secure his signature takedown and get to work. He was down two rounds on two judges’ scorecards with the clock ticking when he managed to get his hand around the jaw of Barton. He locked in the choke, forcing the tap and was greeted by an electric response from the crowd.

In an Instagram post, Coach John Kavanagh credited both Clarke and Neilan for their time spent building experience by having an extensive amateur career. Both fighters have been unstoppable since turning pro and showed why they were signed by Bellator MMA right off the bat.

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IMMAF General Assembly to take place on 28 January in Abu Dhabi Mon, 08 Nov 2021 10:17:33 +0000

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IMMAF’s Board of Directors has invited IMMAF National Federations to attend an Ordinary General Assembly), on Friday 28th January 2022, on the occasion of the IMMAF World Championships for Seniors and Juniors which is taking place in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi  from 24-29 January 2022.

Pursuant to Chapter I, Article 21 of the IMMAF Statutes, the GA will follow a fixed agenda, reflecting our commitment to the principles of good governance and transparency: 


1. Opening of the meeting.

2. Roll Call 

3. Adopting of the Agenda. 

4. President’s address. 

5. Appointment of Scrutineers 

6. Approval of the minutes of the Previous Meetings 

7. Annual Activity Report 

8. Annual Financial Statements 

9. Financial Audit Committee report and liability/insurance

10. Approval of Auditors 

11. Suspension or Expulsion of Members 

12. Approval of New Members 

13. Closing of the meeting

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The UAE Mixed Martial Arts Federation is Working Closely with the UFC and IMMAF Fri, 05 Nov 2021 09:23:37 +0000

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By Ross Patterson 

UFC 267 was held in Abu Dhabi and has been celebrated as one of the best events of the year. If you were watching closely, you may have noticed the “UAEMMAF” logo on the chest of the referees. The event was shadow-sanctioned by the United Arab Emirates Mixed Martial Arts Federation, which is now working closely with the UFC and IMMAF. 

The UAEMMAF is a young federation, joining IMMAF in the summer of this year. They are not yet in a position to fully sanction an event, but the Secretary-General of the commission told me “working with the UFC this weekend was the beginning of something bigger going forward” and that they aim to be the “gold standard in regulation.” 

Shadow-sanctioning UFC 267 was an opportunity for the UAEMMAF to learn the best practices in everything from weigh-ins to officiating. At the moment, the UFC uses the Nevada State Athletic Commission ruleset while operating in the UAE, but they are eager to support the development of independent, third-party regulation, as they have with IMMAF federations in Sweden and Brazil. 

Marc Goddard was a referee at UFC 267, and is also the Director of Regulatory Affairs with IMMAF. He said: “It’s great once again to see the UFC showing commitment to the sport as a whole in supporting the emerging and developing nations and federations in MMA. Event sanctioning is a very in-depth & critical part of the sport and covers so many vital aspects with many layers.”

Just this week, it was announced that the IMMAF World Championships will take place in Abu Dhabi in January of 2022. This will be an excellent opportunity for the UAEMMAF and IMMAF to work together to deliver a world-class competition. 

Going forward, UAEMMAF will be involved in a range of professional MMA events, but the amatuer game will always be their “bread and butter”. The UAE looks set to become a global hub of Mixed Martial Arts. 

You can follow their progress on Twitter and Instagram

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Dublin Bellator event will accept first full crowd since Covid began as IMMAA alumni stack the cards Fri, 05 Nov 2021 08:57:10 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

Bellator MMA returns to Dublin on Friday the 5th of November with a stacked card. The event will mark the first MMA event with full capacity, something that has not been seen since February 2020. The card is rich in high-level Irish MMA talent that includes four former IMMAA representatives that have since turned pro. 

The most highly renowned of the group is James Gallagher, who fights in the Co-Main Event of the evening in a highly anticipated clash with Patchy Mix. Where the winner will likely earn the next shot at the Bellator MMA Bantamweight belt. This would see Gallagher become the second member of the 2015 Irish team to earn a title shot in the promotion, joining Sinead Kavanagh who is slated to fight Cris Cyborg the following week. 

Gallagher had a sole bout at the 2015 IMMAF World Championships, one that saw him beat Sam Agushi via Rear-Naked Choke to progress to the next round. Unfortunately, he was forced to withdraw due to injury and opted to turn pro three months later. Since then his meteoric rise began that saw him headline sold-out events in front of packed crowds while still in his early twenties. 

IMMAA Coach and 2017 World Silver Medalist Danni Neilan will also grace the card. Neilan has been at both of the most recent IMMAF events where Ireland have featured, assisting with the coaching of the Irish Youth and Senior team. Now the undefeated strawweight fighter is going to be swapping sides and putting on the gloves once again as she continues her prolific rise through the pro ranks. Looking at her transition from amateur to pro, she believes her World Championship run gave her the boost she needed to go go pro.

“I need those IMMAF fights to really reassure myself I was as good as he [John Kavanagh] was saying I was.”

“It gave me so much confidence. The minute I finished that tournament I remember saying to John [Kavanagh], “I’m ready to go pro now, I believe what you’ve been saying.””

Ciaran Clarke and Stephen Costello are the other two alumni and will join Neilan on the preliminary portion of the card of the event. Clarke had an extensive amateur career which saw him feature at five IMMAF competitions, racking up ten fights. Since going pro he has been untouchable, going on a three-fight tear in Bellator MMA. Including a win over Jean N’Doye in the Frenchman’s backyard. Ahead of his fight with Jordan Barton in Dublin, Clarke praised IMMAF for helping with his development and despite not winning a medal, gained valuable experience

“My goal for a long long time was to have the Irish flag around my shoulders, hear the national anthem and to be on top of that podium, unfortunately, I didn’t reach it but the experience gained was literally invaluable.”

Lastly, Stephen Costello will be the latest fighter from the Irish conveyor belt of talent to turn pro. Costello is second on the billing as he takes on fellow debutant Yusuf Nazokatov. Costello has featured at two IMMAF competitions, the World Cup being his most recent appearance. He has looked well-rounded in all of his performances to date, his striking in particular standing out. After winning his first two fights at the 2019 World Championships, Costello suffered back to back losses, however, each one was to the eventual competition winner. 

A mention must be given to Darragh Kelly too, who makes his pro debut on the card. He was chosen to represent Ireland at the 2021 IMMAF World Championships, however, the opportunity to earn pay for punch in front of a home crowd came knocking. 

The event itself highlights the continued rise of Irish fighters as we see the different waves of former IMMAA representatives thrive as pros.

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IMMAF re-schedules 2021 World Championships for Abu Dhabi Wed, 03 Nov 2021 11:04:28 +0000

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation is proud to announce the rescheduling of its 2021 IMMAF World Championships to Abu Dhabi from the 24th to 29th January, 2022. This follows the earlier cancellation of the event (due to the pandemic), which was to be originally held in Kazakhstan.

Hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, with the support of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and in partnership with Palms Sports, the senior and junior nations tournaments will now take place at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City, near UFC Fight Island (Yas Island). IMMAF’s flagship annual event in 2019 attracted around 450 athletes from 49 nations, before COVID-19 put a stop to IMMAF championships in 2020, making this the first IMMAF Worlds in two years. Returning medallists and new rising stars have made their mark this year at the IMMAF European Championships and World Cup Prague, establishing compelling rivalries expected to play out at a highly competitive World Championships, which will be broadcast globally.

With IMMAF continental tournaments closing in 2022 to athletes from outside the host continent, the World Championships will be IMMAF’s sole premier tier competition open to seniors and juniors from all around the world. Registration for the Worlds is to open for athletes from IMMAF nations shortly.

IMMAF is also proud to announce that the hosting agreement for the World Championships forms part of a bigger deal that will see the United Arab Emirates as home to the Youth World Championships for the next three years, from 2022 to 2024. IMMAF’s popular under-18s event serves to develop the next generation of mixed martial arts.

UAEMMAF President Abdulmunem Al Hashmi said:

“The UAE has become a beacon of culture, sports, economy and civilization, achieving a pioneering role in various fields of life. There is hardly a day without a celebration of a scientific, cultural, economic or political event. Today, we celebrate with you the announcement of hosting the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior World Championships, which will be held next January in Abu Dhabi.

“Our beloved Abu Dhabi has established its international status as the new capital of mixed martial arts and has become synonymous with the sport, attracting MMA’s superstars, professional fighters and emerging athletes from all over the world, who aspire to make a name for themselves in this field. With the many prominent partnerships between Abu Dhabi and a large number of major international mixed martial arts organizations, led by the UFC, in addition to the UAE Warriors Championship Series, we are pleased to add a new partnership to this distinguished list with the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, which decided to grant Abu Dhabi the right to organize the 2021 World Amateur MMA Championships to consolidate our capabilities and our position in this context.”

“This achievement has a special place in our hearts, especially that the MMA Committee of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation has only been established less than 6 months ago, which consolidates the global reputation that the UAE earned in the sport of mixed martial arts.”

“The Emirati Sports ecosystem is blessed with the generous support of our leaders, without which none of these world-renowned achievements would have been possible. Our leading Jiu-Jitsu model was inspired from the prudent vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the patron of sports and athletes. This, in turn, lays a great responsibility on our shoulders to seek prominence and always aspire for the first place.”

His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, declared Abu Dhabi’s hosting of the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior World Championships as a key sporting event held in the capital city.

He emphasized the championship’s esteem as proof of the UAE leadership’s efforts in championing Abu Dhabi as a global destination for combat sports, praising the prolific cooperation between the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation and Palms Sports.

“The partnership has paved the way for hosting the IMMAF Youth World Championships for the next three years, contributing in strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position in organizing major sporting events globally,” HE Al Awani said. 

“Abu Dhabi Sports Council attaches great importance in providing all forms of support and the reasons for the success of these prestigious events.”

Palms Sports CEO Fouad Darwish said:

“Over the past five years, Palms Sports leveraged its leading position in the world of Jiu-Jitsu and our unique relation with the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and added Mixed Martial Arts to our portfolio in 2019. Since then, we built on our strengths and managed to develop the professional MMA scene. Our flagship promotion, UAE Warriors, is bringing MMA closer to the local, regional and international audience. In developing the amateur MMA scene, we are fully engaged and preparing to take it all to the next level.”

“The level of sporting infrastructure that is in place in Abu Dhabi is second to none, and we witnessed all that when the capital hosted a number of events during the pandemic. We have recently signed a tripartite agreement with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation to back our ambitious plans to make the UAE capital the global centre of Mixed Martial Arts.” 

“Abu Dhabi has become synonymous with world-class cultural and sports events, and hosting the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior World Championships next year, in addition to the Youth Worlds for the next three years, will add to the city’s recognition as the new capital of mixed martial arts.” 

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“I would like to wholeheartedly thank His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; His Excellency Abdulmunem Al Hashmi, President of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation; His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; His Excellency Mohamed Dalmouj Al Dhaheri, Chairman of the UAE MMA Committee; and the Department of Culture and Tourism for enabling the 2021 IMMAF World Championships to take place in Abu Dhabi at extremely short notice, and for agreeing to a three-year hosting rights deal for the IMMAF Youth Worlds. I would like to also thank Fouad Darwish of Palms Sports, Mohammed Al Hosani of the UAEMMAF and IMMAF Board Director Wissam Abi Nader for their extensive efforts to facilitate these deals.”

“Our shared commitment to the vision of developing MMA in the UAE and internationally is very powerful and has vast potential. We at IMMAF are grateful for these opportunities and are excited for the future growth of our sport and its talent in the region. I invite IMMAF’s national federations and teams from around the world to come to Abu Dhabi in January for IMMAF’s greatest championships yet.”

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IMMAF Alumni Ciaran Clarke excited to be back in action again Wed, 03 Nov 2021 08:13:13 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

When you think of early pro prospects to watch at the moment, Ireland’s Ciarán Clarke is certainly up there. The fighter from Drogheda has been making waves in Bellator MMA since leaping pro in 2019. He is now preparing for his fourth bout, set to take place at Bellator 270 in Dublin, Ireland.

It has been some time since we have seen him in the cage and the plus year-long wait will come to an end on October 5th. He will be part of the show that welcomes back the always electric Irish crowd. Speaking ahead of his fight, the former IMMAF competitor detailed how excited he is to get back in there and show how he has improved.

“I can’t wait to be honest because it’s been thirteen months since the last one. It doesn’t feel like that though with the year that we have. I’ve still been training flat out and helping some of the guys that were fighting away, the likes of Peter Queally, Pedro Carvalho, Pawel Politylo, Richie Smullen. So yeah I’ve been training all year round and just delighted to get back in there. Now it’s my turn to get in there and show my improvements from over the last 13 months.”

“I really feel like a different fighter now, I feel like I’ve added more tools to my game.”

His last outing was a big one as he went into enemy territory to take on an experienced pro in Jean N’Doye in Paris, France. The 26-year-old explained that the atmosphere was much different to a crowded 3Arena but likened the experience of fighting abroad to his IMMAF days. 

“I like fighting away, it reminds me of going to the IMMAFs and I enjoy it because fighting at home it’s a lot of pressure on ticket sales and there are a lot more people coming. Of course, I can only put as much pressure as I can on myself but it’s a different vibe fighting abroad and I enjoy both.”

During his amateur days, Clarke donned the Irish flag on ten occasions across five IMMAF events. He credits his IMMAF days for helping him develop as a fighter and mentioned how if possible, he would have liked to have had a longer amateur career, like the elite Irish boxers..

“It’s huge to be honest, even if I was to just do the IMMAFs, they’re literally priceless. Making weight every day, fighting every day. I mean you fight today and tomorrow you don’t know who you’re fighting and I loved it. If it was something you could pursue, make a career out like the Olympics the way Katie Taylor or Michael Conlan did. If that was a route to take I definitely would have stayed amateur and fought the best guys.”

“Now you have the Russian guys after coming in too, I was there the first year they came in as well. And I mean you can truly say you’re the best in the world at amateur when you compete at these.”

“My goal for a long long time was to have the Irish flag around my shoulders, hear the national anthem and to be on top of that podium, unfortunately, I didn’t reach it but the experience gained was literally invaluable.”

When he started his martial arts journey 10 years ago he didn’t envision turning pro at first. However, after being on the fight team as an amateur and having been around through the gym changing. He now finds himself as a pro on the team and has re-signed with Bellator MMA to continue to pursue his dream.

“To make my professional debut with one of the biggest promotions in the world and to be re-signed with them now and to be 3-0, it really is unbelievable and it’s only the start.”

“I was the amateur on the team coming up and you know even to think back to the yellow mats in SBG, to just be a part of that at the time it was a great buzz. Now it’s our turn, some years later and we’re in the new gym in SBG. You look at Peter and Sinead, fighting for World titles, headlining shows, it’s unbelievable. Everyone is preparing together and the only way is up.”

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Successful National Championships shows sport is thriving in Poland Tue, 02 Nov 2021 12:58:48 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

Poland’s second National Amateur Championships provided an opportunity for promising prospects to compete against the best in their country.

More than 140 of the best amateur fighters representing over 55 MMA clubs displayed their skills in front of 300 spectators at the Gliwice Arena on Saturday, 30 October. The tournament was organised by the MMA Polska Association supported by the city of Gilwice.

Over 3000 fans tuned into MMA Poland’s YouTube channel to watch nearly 120 fights, featuring athletes, who will one day be the future of the sport in their country. At least 55 clubs were represented at the event, which featured 18 different weight categories.

The list of winners of each weight category with tournament ladders:

Club ranking available here:

The photo gallery of the competition is available here:


This event was the second amateur MMA tournament organized this year by the Association following the June 12 tournament held at the Białołęka Sports Center in Warsaw.

The development of Polish MMA has been headed by Martin Lewandowski, who built the successful professional promotion KSW. The Pole is now navigating multiple hurdles to secure an exciting future for amateur sport in his country. Lewandowski has established multiple partnerships across different industries to secure strategic funding that will support the progress of the governing body and its unique competition network. His work has helped to give the athletes, who competed at the championships, a fantastic opportunity to develop their skills, prior to potentially appearing at IMMAF tournaments down the line.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz is an MMA Poland ambassador and committed anti doping campaigner. Despite losing his world title to an inspired Glover Teixeira at UFC 267, in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night, the sport is developing at an impressive rate in his home country. With so many skilled young fighters showcasing their abilities, it seems that the future of Polish MMA is in very good hands.

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Muhammad Mokaev to compete at the 2021 World Wrestling Championships this Weekend Tue, 02 Nov 2021 09:38:04 +0000

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By Ross Patterson 

Muhammad Mokaev will be representing TeamGB at the 2021 World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, this weekend. The IMMAF alumni is currently competing professionally in Brave FC, but has taken on the challenge of an international wrestling competition to stay active. 

Mokaev is widely regarded as one of the hottest prospects in MMA. As the two-time IMMAF World Champion, two-time IMMAF European Champion, six-time British Wrestling Champion, two-time ADCC British Open gold medallist and one-time European Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu Champion – at just twenty-one years old, it’s easy to see why. 

The young athlete is originally from Dagestan, but didn’t learn to wrestle in Russia. Instead, his skills were developed in the UK, at the Manchester Wrestling Academy under Oleg Druzhynets. His grappling prowess, undefeated MMA record (30-0 amateur, 4-0 professional) and Dagestani roots have led many to compare him to the UFC’s Khabib Numagomedov. However, Mokaev told the BBC

“I want to be the first Muhammad Mokaev, not the second Khabib.”

It’s common for IMMAF athletes to compete across different martial arts. New Zealand’s Michelle Montague – the current Lightweight World Champion – is the two-time Oceana Wrestling Champion. She was also a member of the 2018 Commonwealth Games team and is an Olympic hopeful for freestyle wrestling.

In Spain, FELUCHA (Spanish Federation of Olympic Wrestling and Associated Disciplines) puts together the National MMA championships which serve as the gateway to the IMMAF European and World Championships. The sports of wrestling and MMA work together closely, and IMMAF is always excited to see both alumni and current athletes compete across disciplines. 

It will be fascinating to watch Mokaev test his wrestling skills in Serbia. His participation is a testament to his commitment to the sport and his willingness to continue to hone his skills. Good luck, Muhammad.

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IMMAF CEO issues statement on inter-sex MMA bout in Poland Mon, 01 Nov 2021 11:35:08 +0000

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Following the reported inter-sex MMA bout at the MMA-VIP event in Czestochowa, Poland on 29 October,  IMMAF CEO Densign White has issued the following statement on behalf of the world governing body for amateur MMA:

“Media coverage has brought our attention to an inter-sex MMA bout that took place in Poland over the weekend. Although neither the promoter nor competitors have any association with IMMAF, as the international governing body for amateur mixed martial arts, I feel it is important that I state our position. IMMAF categorically disagrees with this intentionally scandalous, form of entertainment, which does not represent the sport of MMA or its values and puts women at risk. It is unacceptable that women and men should compete against each other in combat sports,  essentially for reasons of safety but also fair play, and we in no way endorse this.”

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IMMAF Alumni ready to impress at UFC 267 Fri, 29 Oct 2021 07:48:39 +0000

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By James Eakin

UFC 267 boasts a plethora of talent plucked straight from the IMMAF ranks. From top to bottom, the main card and prelims are littered with former National Champions and contenders alike from the nations of Russia and Brazil. 

Starring in the highly anticipated co-main event, is Russian Muay Thai phenom and former Siberian Federal District Champion, Petr Yan. Since switching to a professional career in 2014, Yan has been on a tear in both the former Absolute Championship Berkut promotion and the UFC. Amassing an impressive record of 15-2, Yan looks to regain a shot at the undisputed Bantamweight title that he lost in controversial fashion to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259. Facing across the octagon on Saturday night is one of the toughest puzzles to solve in the whole division: Cory Sandhagen. The American presents a unique challenge for the former champion as the two battle it out for the Interim Bantamweight strap. 

Further down the card we find Magomed Ankalaev, a burgeoning light-heavyweight prospect and former Russian National Championship gold medallist in 2015. He aims to rise further up the ranks when he takes on the always game Volkan Oezdemir. With a professional record of 15-1, Ankalaev is quickly cementing his place amongst the best in the division. Highlight reel finishes of Dalcha Lungiambula and Ion Cutelaba, as well as dominant displays over the likes of Nikita Krylov have made Ankalaev the critics’ choice as a potential future UFC Light-Heavyweight champion. His professional success combined with his impressive amateur record of 25-1 demonstrate the benefit of the amateur promotions associated with the IMMAF.

Closing out the prelims of UFC 267, is Brazilian Amanda Ribas; currently ranked at #10 in the Women’s Strawweight division and an IMMAF Flyweight gold medallist in 2014. She takes on fellow Brazilian, Virna Jandiroba. Ribas is looking to bounce back from her defeat to Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257 and continue moving her way up the Strawweight rankings. Undefeated as an amateur, Ribas now holds impressive victories over recognisable names like Mackenzie Dern and Paige VanZant. 

A Black Belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, Ribas’ front foot style and infectious personality have made her a fan favourite, and UFC 267 grants her an opportunity to return to winning ways against a tricky opponent in Jandiroba. Will we see the two BJJ aces battle it out on the mat, or will their grappling proficiency force a stand-up contest? We will have to wait and see. 

Also competing at UFC 267 are Damir Ismagulov, former Russian Supercup Champion, and Shamil Gamzatov, Russian National Championships Bronze Medallist in 2017. It is fantastic all these athletes with superb amateur credentials flourishing in their professional careers after their association with the IMMAF, and highlights the effectiveness of proper amateur promotion and regulation in the early stages of their careers!

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New Zambia MMA Federation receives Government recognition Fri, 29 Oct 2021 07:47:24 +0000

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By Jake Smith

Mixed Martial Arts Zambia President, Benjamin Bush has expressed his pride and gratitude after the Association he leads received government recognition.

Government recognition for an association is a monumental step, and for MMA Zambia to achieve such a feat so soon after formation is truly remarkable. Recognition is vital, especially for a developing MMA nation such as Zambia, to ensure that an association can regulate and govern the sport.

Reacting to the news, President Bush said: “Government recognition is huge. It has taken almost three years to achieve it and we are incredibly proud and grateful to the National Sports Council of Zambia for giving our application the detailed attention it deserved. Direct affiliation provides us with the mandate to regulate the sport as the sole governing body for MMA in the country.

“There is so much interest in MMA, if it’s not football then everyone is talking about Mixed Martial Arts. Young men and women either want to grow up to be football stars or be the next Amanda Nunes or Israel Adesanya. It is literally that big of a deal here. We want to use that momentum to empower the youth of Zambia, to use the sport for positive social change, to aid economic empowerment through sport and to create future champions.

“The recognition by the government provides us with the authority and support for the safe implementation of functional development and regulatory structures, in other words MMA ZAMBIA can ensure the integrity and safety of the sport whilst using the sport to make a difference. We can literally embed values, training programs and progression pathways into the sports development that will uplift young people and empower them whether they find success as athletes or not.

MMA Zambia were inducted into the IMMAF family in July 2020 and during this relatively short tenure, have made tremendous efforts in athlete development. With only three gyms in the country able to teach MMA to an acceptable standard, Zambia are focussed on educating their athletes on rules and techniques whilst simultaneously working to help their coaches achieve IMMAF certification.

President Bush admitted that he did not realise the full value of the amateur experience until he witnessed the work that is done on the IMMAF platform. He said:

“I never properly understood the value of amateur MMA until I saw first-hand the incredible work IMMAF have been doing and the platforms they have created. It is truly outstanding. I have never worked with a governing body as enthusiastic about grassroots sports development and athlete advocacy as IMMAF.

“Our affiliation to IMMAF provides us with a huge resource of sports development and sports governance knowledge. It allows us to access a network and learn from the expertise of others across the world. We have been working closely with MMA South Africa  and their help has been monumental. The affiliation to IMMAF also provides us with credibility.

“IMMAF understands our desire to use the sport of MMA to change lives and they have embraced it. They provide us with technology, resources and progression pathways that can take athletes from competitors to coaches and onwards to gym owners and sports stars.

“Through IMMAF we can strive towards high standards of officiating and regulatory duties, and our national squad get the opportunity to represent Zambia on the world stage at the IMMAF World and Youth Games and at the IMMAF Africa Open providing athletes with experience and exposure. On top of that, as a member of the largest world governing body in MMA we can work together to lobby for the sport’s inclusion at the Africa Games and at the Olympic Games.”

Wanting to achieve success in the cage is a given, but President Bush has a much wider goal when it comes to MMA Zambia.

He is actively looking to help better the lives and tackle the social and economic hardships of the young people of Zambia, through mixed martial arts. He explained:
“MMA Zambia believes that the sport of MMA can change lives not just through athletic endeavour, but also through its inspirational qualities, the values within martial arts practice, the work ethic and sportsmanship within combat sports and the personalities the sport will create. With Zambia being a developing economy, the rich/poor divide is significant and many people live below the poverty line. This leads to various issues such as youth unemployment, children taking on the role of providers, street vagrancy, and many other issues that lead to fractured communities such as drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, GBV and much more. MMA can do its part to tackle these issues directly.

“We would not be a productive federation if we did not care about the communities around us. We want to use our platform to uplift others and we want to do it in a way that works with the government and their international partners to further their long-term agendas for youth development.

“The sport, and its popularity can be used to inspire others. We have developed a vulnerable youth program that uses MMA to tackle all the above issues and more, mental health, gender based violence, drug and alcohol abuse, literacy, entrepreneurship, etc – all through MMA. We intend to combine this into our sports development strategy encouraging the programs uptake across the country. We want to create role models for future generations. We want to make a difference and we are grateful to be working with IMMAF to realise our goals.”

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Zimbabwean MMA Federation Extends IMMAF Footprint in Africa Fri, 29 Oct 2021 07:45:07 +0000

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By Jorden Curren

2021 has been a fruitful year for the development of MMA in Africa, and the IMMAF in pleased to announce that Zimbabwe is the latest African nation to join the IMMAF, via the Zimbabwe Mixed Martial Arts Association (ZMMAA). 

ZMMAA, headed by organisation president Felix Munyaradzi Matsitsiro, now joins the flourishing network of skilled and dedicated individuals within Africa. ZMMAA’s goals are to draw up and ensure regulation of MMA in Zimbabwe, improve overall MMA development, ensure protection of members and introduce engaging promotion of the sport in line with IMMAF values. 

ZMMAA has a key focus on youth development and acquiring young members with a vision to spread values of respect and self-improvement amongst the youth of Zimbabwe using the sport of MMA.  

To date, foundations have been established by ZMMAA via its fundraising efforts, at social events, collaborations with music festivals, sponsor donations and yearly membership. Plans are in place for national championships and participation for Team Zimbabwe at international IMMAF championships, with education and official certification of coaches set as the organisation’s first action following the completion of IMMAF membership.

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Andrew Moshanov on site in Russia to launch new IMMAF Youth Coach development qualification Thu, 28 Oct 2021 10:01:16 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

From October 20th-22nd, IMMAF launched an important new Coaching Qualification course in the city of Omsk, Russia. The course introduced the next level of IMMAF coaching qualification aimed at the development of the youth coach competence. 65 coaches from all over the Siberian part of Russia attended the course.

There were also some international representatives from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan in attendance. This included Head Coach Zijaev Rustam and CEO of TAJMMAF, Pirov Khushmahmad. The course was delivered by Andrew Moshanov, assisted by Youth Head Coach for Russia Georgii Emelianov and Head Coach of Kazakhstan Bajan Zangalov. 

Siberian Academy of PE & Sport provided the auditorium for two half days of lectures, and MMA Club “Ermak” was the base for the practical sessions and assessments. 

Speaking after the event, IMMAF Director of Development Andrew Moshanov explained some important points he delivered to participants. 

“There were a few messages sent to the participants, the main points were:

1) children are not just small adults

2) Pre-puberty age is the critical time of the biggest physiological turbulence, therefore a coach needs thoughtful application of drills and physical exercises. 

3) children born after 2012 are a very special group, known as “generation alpha”, with affected attention span, with the ability to digest information only in small chunks, resisting any rigid structure of the classroom and favouring quick success, similar to the instant availability of any information via Google. “

Following completion of the course, Moshanov was pleased with how the two days went. 

“I am happy with the skills and competence demonstrated by the newly certified coaches and wish them success in their everyday job with this very sensitive age group of 6-10 yrs olds. I am sure that coaches assimilated themselves with the need to adapt their old methods of formal teaching to the realities of today. That was the major message from the course.”

Bajan Zangalov (Kazakhstan) mentioned in his address to the coaches that the format of the assessment of coaching skills during this course was somewhat unique, as coaches had to present themselves (assignments) in front of the other coaches, almost performing under pressure, but this allowed them to reinforce their confidence.

Georgii Emelianov (Russia) commented:

“It was a great experience for all of us. We are grateful to the IMMAF Development department for bringing this program to Russia. Sport in our country is state-regulated and all our coaches have compulsory higher education in PE and Sports. Nevertheless, we learnt so much during the course, it helped all coaches to take a fresh look on the coaching matters and from a different perspective.”

Andrew Moshanov continued, “It was remarkable to meet a few extremely successful coaches, who have built solid youth clubs in their city’s youth clubs with incredible membership of 500+. I was very impressed with the network of youth clubs with circa 1000 members in the city of Novosibirsk. Their experience is worth studying and spreading among the mixed martial arts community worldwide.

IMMAF will be rolling out the next level of coaching qualification from 2022, with one more course pilot in Bucharest, Romania at the end of November this year. National Federations are invited to attend and can book their slot by contacting

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Future of Polish MMA on display at the National Championships Thu, 28 Oct 2021 09:58:35 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

MMA Poland will host their second National Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Championships on Saturday, 30 October, in Gliwice.

Approximately 300 fans will be in attendance at the Gliwice Arena, as the next wave of Polish prospects compete, with national bragging rights and future opportunities to represent their country on the line. Saturday’s event will also feature 2 hours of live transmission, so that fans who can’t attend in person can enjoy watching the championships from outside of the arena. 

After crowning 2 UFC world champions, it’s clear that Poland is emerging as a genuine force on the world stage. Furthermore, it doesn’t look like their success will slow down anytime soon, as the Poles have been impressing on the amateur circuit as well. They have recently picked up three medals at the IMMAF European Open Championships in Kazan, Russia. Both Paulina Kontna and Magdalena Czaban looked magnificent as they emerged victorious on the final day of the tournament, picking up gold medals in the bantamweight and atomweight divisions respectively. Sara Jóźwiak was also impressive en route to the final in the featherweight division, in which she struck silver after falling short against Bahrain’s Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa. 

The development of Polish MMA has been headed by Martin Lewandowski, who built the successful professional promotion KSW, and is now navigating multiple hurdles to secure an exciting future for amateur sport in his country. The Pole has established multiple partnerships across different industries to secure strategic funding that will support the progress of the governing body and its unique competition network.

On Saturday night, in Saudi Arabia, the UFC light heavyweight championship will be on the line; the promotion’s first ever male Polish champion, Jan Blachowicz, will attempt to defend his belt against Glover Teixeira. It seems only fitting that on the same day the next generation of Polish talent will be on display, as they all take the next step in their careers, believing that one day they too can reach the same heights.

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Iraqi MMA Federation gets back in the groove as 250 athletes attend national championships Wed, 27 Oct 2021 10:40:26 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

The Iraqi MMA Federation held the 14th edition of their National Championships on the 15th of October. The event took place at the Al-Adhamiya Sports Club Hall. This marked a major step forward for the federation as they look to develop their next generation of talent. Pro fights were also held as Baghdad Fight Night took place following the National Championships.

The Championships drew the attention of news stations in Iraq. The Iraq Sports Channel were in attendance to give the event some coverage. The event went smoothly with over 250 fighters competing over the day. 10 pro fights took place on the night, two of them for the Kyokushin Kai champions and eight professional mixed martial arts fights.

In the amateur competition, Dragon Academy topped the medal list for the senior part of the competition. The Electric Club and Al Diwan Club both featured heavily across the medals tables too with the former topping the youth section of the competition.

The senior results in which 11 teams participated were as follows.
1. Dragon Academy
2. Al Diwan Club
3. The Electric Club

The youth results in which 11 teams participated were as follows.
1. The Electric Club
2. Al Diwan Club
3. Yakuza Fighter Academy

The results of the juniors in which 10 teams participated were as follows.
1. Nahrawan Club
2. Yakuza Fighter Academy
3. Taker Academy

The results of the cubs in which 7 clubs participated were as follows.
1. Nahrawan Club
2. The Electric Club
3. Al Diwan Club

Head of the Technical Committee for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Professor Raed Jamil and Professor Ahmed Jamil spoke on the event with high praise.

“It was a wonderful Baghdad carnival and night worthy of Iraqi sports and comparable to the international organization under the supervision of a committee and without support or funding from any side!”

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IMMAF President attends WAKO World Championships Tue, 26 Oct 2021 09:21:45 +0000

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President Kerrith Brown attended the WAKO Senior and Master World Championship 2021 at the PalaInvent, Palazzo del Turismo (City Sport Hall), in Jesolo Lido (VE) between 20 and 22 October.

The IMMAF President met with World Association of Kickboxing President Roy Baker, the President of the Italian Federation of Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Shootboxing, Savate, Sambo (F.I.KBMS) Donato Milano and national kickboxing representatives from around the world, including from Turkey, Canada, India and the UK where IMMAF also has a significant presence. He also met with kickboxing’s President Nadir Allouache and Technical Director Eric Lepagnoy from France. MMA was only legalised in 2020 in France under the French boxing Federation, although kickboxing had also put forward a bid for the mandate to govern MMA at the time.

MMA and kickboxing share some of the same roots as part of the combat family. But kickboxing is formally recognised as a sport under WAKO by the Global Association of International Sport Federations and has also recently been officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee. With IMMAF engaged on the same recognition mission, and having faced some political opposition from martial arts federations in the past, WAKO’s gesture of friendship and hospitality is very much welcomed by the IMMAF.

President Brown commented:

“It’s been a great honour to attend the WAKO World Kickboxing Championship in Italy and to experience the amazing atmosphere with 16,000 athletes taking part. I’d like to thank WAKO President Roy Baker for his hospitality and time. It was a pleasure to meet the F.I.KBMS President Donato Milano and national kickboxing representatives from around the world, including President Nadir Allouache and Technical Director Eric Lepagnoy from France. I’d like to congratulate Roy and WAKO for an outstanding event.”

While attending the WAKO Championships President Brown also met with Federacion de Artes Marciales Mixtas (FAMM) president, Professor Ubaldo El Zorro Marroquin. The IMMAF national federation will be hosting IMMAF’s Pan American Championship in Mexico in 2022.

The IMMAF President returned to Moscow on Friday to attend Bellator 269: Fedor vs. Johnson on October 23, 2021 at VTB Arena.

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It’s great to be busy again with Events! Mon, 25 Oct 2021 19:57:03 +0000

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Marc Goddard

After an extremely busy return to IMMAF events,  Director Of Regulatory Affairs Marc Goddard reflects on a recently packed IMMAF calendar, along with a very successful event for the English Mixed Martial Arts Association at the Arnold Classic: 

It was so good to be back at IMMAF events! 

That was a bit of a whirlwind because there had been a drought for so long then we had three events back to back. We were in Sofia, Bulgaria for the World Youths, then we went to Kazan in Russia and then to Prague in the Czech Republic, with almost no breathing space in between.

First and foremost, it was great to get the wheels back in motion watching the kids compete again and catching up physically with the officials. When you look at the officials who have come into IMMAF and trained under me, dedicated and put their time in. Vito from Italy, Clemens from Germany, Victor Wolfe, Ahmed from France, those who have come in and then had the breaks and have started working international events, culminating in the chance to officiate in the UFC, there’s no shock. It is not a magical thing, because these people have worked hard and put the time in.

Two ingredients you can’t cheat about, no matter what the job, no matter what the role, no matter in which industry, and that is time and experience. It’s so important. 

The World Youth Championships and World Cup were phenomenal. From a personal point of view, seeing the kids compete again, getting in amongst it, putting that platform out there was great. Then of course, my vested interest, watching the officials perform, getting to see them and the rest of  the IMMAF family back together. 

The kids were starving for action. Nothing creates a demand more than taking something away. That was abundantly clear across all four events I’ve recently attended. I have banged the same drum for years, the importance of IMMAF, the importance of regulated amateur competition. These young up and comers are showing the evolution of the sport. You’re rarely seeing boxers, judokas and wrestlers now, but young, eager, athletic kids learning mixed martial arts from the start. I am excited to see where the standard will be in another five years, it will be crazy to see. Amateur MMA is thriving and moving forwards all the time.I am more excited than ever because I believe the platform, the level, the thirst and the hunger is going to take it to another level.

Just two weeks ago I was at the Arnold Classic with the English Mixed Martial Arts Association. I must say a massive thanks to Paul and Joe at Fighters Inc, because when the Arnold was announced they approached us. We had meetings and fortunately, worked out an arrangement where EMMAA could be integral to the show. There was a thirst for people getting out and being in a crowd again. I thought the sports, fitness and recreational aspects of the Arnold Sports Festival was phenomenal.

Having our athletes in the combat zone was fantastic. Since it was our young athletes, it was a really big thing for us from a federation point of view: we ticked a major box. The fact that it was a national qualifier was what it was about. If you are going to represent your country at anything, you need to earn your place. Obviously it has been difficult during COVID. But moving forwards, if you are going to get to fight for your country, you are going to earn it on merit and that speaks for itself.

We held an open invitational to all the home nations and it was such a resounding success. I could not have asked for it to have gone any better. Of course, pulling in some favours and getting the dignitaries that were there, like Georges St-Pierre and Khabib Nurmagomedov was great. I remember when GSP was there, we were sitting talking, catching up and the athletes competing didn’t even know he was there. So we asked Georges to go into the cage and present the medal, the athletes turned around and saw me and said “Hi Marc, how are you doing?” then turned round and saw Georges and nearly fainted! He just could not believe that a superstar of the sport was standing there, watching him fight, giving him congratulations, it was a magical moment.

The whole weekend top to bottom from everyone involved. There was so much work that went into it, behind the scenes. I have said it publicly, I’ve said it privately, the team effort was instrumental and it couldn’t have gone any better.

We are already in the early stages of organising next year. The plan is to take this and grow it. We are hopeful for two fighting areas there next year, not just one!

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Manon continues to fly the flag for French MMA Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:06:14 +0000

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By James Eakin

The historic “legalisation” of MMA in France in January 2020 was followed 2 months later by the start of the Covid Pandemic but IMMAF’s member federation FMMAF is about to announce a package of exciting initiatives. Until then, it is one of France’s former amateur stars, Manon Fiorot, who has been making a huge impression as a rising star at UFC.

This past weekend saw former IMMAF world champion, Manon Fiorot, claim a dominant decision win over Mayra Bueno Silva at UFC Fight Night: Ladd vs. Dumont. Fiorot’s rise in the UFC has seen her become one of the hottest prospects on the roster. This is thanks to her ruthless striking style, which reminds this writer of Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Riding a 7-fight win streak that includes six finishes, Fiorot is undefeated in the UFC, with her only professional loss coming to another IMMAF alum, Leah McCourt.

Fiorot cut her teeth on the biggest amateur MMA stage, winning a silver medal at the IMMAF European Championships in 2017. She then went on to become world champion the same year. The IMMAF World Championships were the perfect springboard to professional combats for Fiorot, who would not have been granted such an opportunity in her native country as MMA events were first permitted only in 2020. 

Her victory over Bueno Silva sees Fiorot move to number 17 in the official UFC Women’s Flyweight rankings, setting her up perfectly for a shot at breaking into the top 15 in her next bout. A Karate black belt and undefeated at 12-0 in Muay Thai, Fiorot is an extremely dynamic striker and presents a problem for anyone on the feet. Add to that her newly acquired Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Brown Belt, Fiorot is a threat no matter where the fight goes. 

Speaking to the media in her post-fight press conference, Fiorot expressed her disappointment at not being able to finish Mayra Bueno Silva:

“I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t finish the fight, but I won. I think I had a good fight. A victory is a victory, and I’m happy.”

Looking ahead to her next fight, Fiorot could face the likes of Miranda Maverick, herself coming off a controversial decision loss to Maycee Barber. Maverick is currently sitting at number 14 in the rankings and is, at present, without a fight. It will certainly be exciting to see what future bouts are lined up for ‘The Beast’.

Manon Fiorot is without a doubt one of the most scintillating and eye-catching talents to emerge from the IMMAF scene. Her fan-friendly style and high volume striking is proving her to be one of the most promising up and coming talents in the UFC, and her amateur pedigree with the IMMAF looks to have given her the perfect foundation for her burgeoning career.

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Belgian Federation uses Expo platform to shine spotlight on National Championships Thu, 21 Oct 2021 15:07:47 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

On the 23rd of October, the Belgian Mixed Martial Arts Federation will be hosting their National MMA Competition at the WellFit Expo Europe event in Mons Belgium. The large-scale event attracts audiences both nationally and internationally. Over the two days, the Expo will have various Martial arts, Health and Fitness activities taking place. 

The regular MMA competition will take place on Saturday and will feature youth, novice and amateur bouts. This is the first time that a youth competition is being held in Belgium. The competition is aimed towards 14/15-year-olds and the bouts will take place on mats as a first smooth step for youth MMA. 

Fight cards for all three competitions have been released. The youth competition will start the MMA action for the day with the full amateur rules bouts signing off the day. In the full amateur ruleset bouts, a familiar face in Patrick Habirora is expected to compete on the card. Habirora has previously represented Belgium at the 2019 Junior European Open Championships where he lost to Adam Darby. 

Belgian promotion European Beatdown will also host their 8th event in the venue a day before the expo with former IMMAF competitors Florian Doskja & Liridon Ramaniset to compete in the pro ranks. Doskja represented Albania at both the 2017 European and World Championships, winning a bronze medal in the latter competition, after eventual winner Gamzat Magomedov but a halt to his 3-fight finishing streak. Now undefeated as a pro he will headline the event against Moustapha Aida.

Belgium’s Liridon Ramani won bronze at the 2014 World Championships and has been inactive as a pro since European Beatdown debuted in 2016. He will be making his long-awaited return earlier on the card.

On Sunday an ADCC grappling tournament is being organised as the federation are the representative for ADCC. The tournament allows MMA athletes to take part in a different kind of competition and allows grapplers from across Belgium to showcase their skills. Currently, over 200 competitors are registered for the tournament.

There will also be a meet and greets with Belgian MMA fighters that have fought in the UFC, Cage Warriors and KSW, including Brian Bouland, Donovan Desmae, Cindy Dandois & Gaetano Pirrello.

Briefly speaking on the event as a whole, BMMAF president Ludo Boulvin explained, “It is a great opportunity for MMA to be represented with other sports and to introduce the sport with a wide audience.”

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IMMAF’s Number One Priority is Keeping Athletes Safe Wed, 20 Oct 2021 20:22:37 +0000

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By Ross Patterson 

Yoni tapped his head: “It’s about this. It’s about protecting this. Culturally, that’s understood across the sport.”

The Director of Athlete Safety for IMMAF is talking about the brain. It’s a fragile organ, and within such a high-contact sport, protecting it must be the highest priority. Human bodies are good at recovering from scrapes, bruises and even breaks. We are designed to take this kind of wear and tear. But the central nervous system is far more fragile.

Fewer concussions are seen in MMA compared to a combat sport like boxing1. In MMA, there are more targets to hit and fewer rounds to do damage to your opponent, but of course, concussions occur. The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation takes impacts to the brain extremely seriously. Every athlete who suffers a loss via KO or TKO due to significant head strikes has a compulsory CT scan. This is far lower than the clinical threshold, but it speaks to how seriously the federation takes the brain health of their athletes. The scans are done privately, paid for by the IMMAF. If an athlete refuses, they are suspended indefinitely.

There have been calls to make brain scans compulsory for all. Every member of the Irish team receives a pre-competition brain scan. This is a leading approach, however, not possible for every team. One of the challenges the IMMAF faces is being an international federation. Even a blood test can look different from country to country.

So, how do you standardise medical checks, and make sure the athletes are ready for competition? 


SafeMMA was set up in 2012 as an independent body to protect the health and safety of athletes across a range of competitions. It works as a centralised system of health records, suspensions and safety standards. It was founded by medical professionals and representatives from the sport of MMA, as well as the promotions Cage Warriors and BAMMA. In 2018 it achieved charity status, which recognised its main activities as philanthropy and social wellbeing rather than profit-making. 

The charity works closely with IMMAF. They are there to manage the pre-event medical safety standards, which include an annual health check and pre-competition blood tests. 

Their medical support is constantly evolving. Yoni Gottlieb was responsible for a new system where athletes are asked the same questions at registration as during their annual medical check: 

“Within the last 60 days, have you taken a hard blow to the head? Have you been suspended from any other sport (not just MMA)?

Team leaders are also asked to corroborate these answers because, however important a role SafeMMA plays, they can’t cover everything. So, a huge responsibility for athlete safety also lies with the coaches. They know their students better than anyone. This system helps to put some of the liability back onto the coaches and teams instead of just on the IMMAF and SafeMMA. 

In addition to these systems, Yoni believes these three things are key to keeping athletes safe:

  1. Responsible matchmaking.

    Both athletes must have a similar skill level. This is vital in producing healthy competition and stops anyone from being badly hurt.
  2. Having experienced cage-side medics in case something catastrophic goes wrong.

    In 2016, a young Portuguese man, João Carvalho lost his life in an MMA competition. Questions were raised about the competency of the medical team in attendance. Since then, at every IMMAF event, the cage-side medics are tested on their ability at maintaining airways and extracting casualties from the ring using their equipment. This means that if anything does go wrong, the team are already familiar with the procedure.
  3. Competent refereeing. 

    It is the referee’s job to protect athletes from unnecessary damage. Marc Goddard is the Head Official at IMMAF and is considered to be one of the best MMA referees on the planet.

    Marc was a founding member of SafeMMA and still sits on the board. Goddard is dedicated to the wellbeing of competitors and sets a strong example for everyone involved in athlete safety. 

Going forward, the IMMAF is focused on making their safety procedures scalable, and that the highest possible medical standards are provided to their athletes.

Yoni on MMA:

“Is it dangerous? Yeah, I think it’s dangerous. But it’s not as dangerous as climbing mountains or sitting on the sofa eating crisps all your life.”

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PFL champion and Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison impressed by IMMAF star Michelle Montague Wed, 20 Oct 2021 10:45:56 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

PFL lightweight champion, Kayla Harrison, has been very complimentary towards IMMAF World Champion, Michelle Montague, whom she has been training with. 

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions in her own country, Montague felt it made sense to relocate to America for the time being. She has been working alongside Harrison at the world renowned gym, American Top Team. 

When the PFL champion was asked by Christopher Reive of The New Zealand Herald, about how one of his nation’s rising stars was performing, the American responded very positively.

The 2x Olympic gold medalist said simply: “She’s a beast.”

Montague won the gold medal at lightweight in the 2019 IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain. The New Zealander submitted her countryman, Mel Webster via arm bar in the first round of a tournament, in which the former rugby player’s grappling looked exceptional. She also won the Oceania Open in 2019 and 2020, but suffered the first loss of her amateur career in the semi finals of the European Open at featherweight, to the undefeated Sabrina Laurentina De Sousa, via unanimous decision. However, the Kiwi is updating her fans regularly with training footage. She is working on her craft as hard as ever at the Florida gym, which has helped fellow female fighters, such as Amanda Nunes and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, reach the pinnacle of the sport.  

Oceania has become a breeding ground for world level mixed martial artists in recent times, with the likes of Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker and Alexander Volkanovski emerging as UFC champions. With Montague training at one of the best gyms in the world with UFC athletes including Maryna Moroz, as well as one of the greatest female fighters on the planet singing her praises, New Zealand fight fans will be united in the hope that she can be their country’s next professional world champion.

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IMMAF launches Athletes Database & Alumni Records Fri, 15 Oct 2021 11:15:33 +0000

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has launched two new athletes’ records pages this year at

The searchable Athletes’ Database features 2200 IMMAF athletes across Senior, Junior and Youth categories, and lists the IMMAF accolades of all medallists. For each Event, the full brackets have been published for all senior and junior tournaments, complete with clickable W (win)/ L (loss) buttons to navigate through to bout information.

Meanwhile, the IMMAF Alumni pages document the IMMAF veterans (by nation) who have moved on into the professional game, as the number of rising stars on IMMAF’s international competition platform continues to grow.

Commenting on the Athletes’ Database, IMMAF’s new Chief Technology Officer Mikhail Mazur, who has spearheaded the project said:

“I’m really pleased about the official launch of our own IMMAF database. This is the only official source of truth when it comes to IMMAF events. No other online database will be as accurate or as complete as ours with regards to athletes’ IMMAF records. This is something that has been long overdue and I’m glad that I can contribute to IMMAF’s development in improving the accessibility of our tournament data. Athletes will be able to share their profiles to showcase their status, while coaches can study future opponents’ records here.

“We will be updating the database with each subsequent event. To date, it boasts over 2200 athletes with information about every medal won under the auspices of IMMAF, and for Junior and Senior events, information about every single bracket and bout.

IMMAF’s Membership and Talent Development consultant Jorden Curran, who is behind the Alumni pages and their continuous development, said:

“The IMMAF Alumni section of highlights and showcase athletes who have graduated from the IMMAF platform to enter the upper tiers of professional MMA, enabling fans, media and matchmakers alike to discover more information about the sport’s exciting up and comers. Listed by nationality, the profiles detail the accolades of top standouts who have competed at the premier level of amateur MMA, plus their professional career highlights to date, and of course, where they are now. We have begun by logging all IMMAF/WMMAA alumni who have to date progressed to compete under the banner of IMMAF’s primary sponsor, the UFC, with many more profiles set to follow for contenders we’ve seen in action with promotions such as Bellator, BRAVE, Cage Warriors, Invicta and more.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“I am proud of these developments to that make IMMAF competitions more accessible to industry stakeholders, media and fans and better promote IMMAF’s athletes, as the talent level continues to rise exponentially. These projects, alongside the relaunch of our online streaming platform and its forthcoming integration with live tournament data, further our goal of creating a seamless, holistic and more enjoyable viewing experience for MMA fans.”

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IMMAF standouts Berisha and Bolander announce themselves on UK scene Fri, 15 Oct 2021 11:12:24 +0000

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By Jorden Curran 

Two of the newest standouts to emerge on the international IMMAF platform have kept up momentum and announced themselves with title winning performances on the UK regional scene, within the Cage Warriors Academy circuit. 

Norway’s Cecile Bolander and Kosovo’s Arlind Berisha made their IMMAF debuts at the 2021 IMMAF World Cup series event in Prague during September. 

The Norwegian national team returned to the IMMAF platform with a bang and 25-year-old Bolander captured gold in the women’s featherweight tournament, submitting Ukraine’s Marianna Skuba and the Czech Republic’s Kamila Simkova, both via arm-bar in the opening round.

At just age 20, Arlind Berisha ushered a historic debut under the IMMAF banner for the nation of Kosovo, sensationally winning the heavyweight gold medal with successive guillotine choke submissions over Ukraine’s Yaroslav Strillets and Oleksandr Horodniuk.

Having competed at his natural bodyweight for the IMMAF World Cup tournament, Berisha increased his experience of dropping to light-heavyweight for a single bout in the UK’s South-East Cage Warriors Academy, winning the division title on October 9 by finishing Iceland’s Guolaugar Por Einarsson with a crippling body kick. Norway’s Bolander captured the South-East featherweight title, again with a signature arm-bar stoppage, again in the opening round, against UK based Lithuanian, Erika Vorobjova.

Adding to their IMMAF exploits at the premier level of amateur MMA, the Cage Warriors Academy is an attractive pathway for European talents eyeing up a route towards the professional Cage Warriors ranks, exemplified by former IMMAF standouts such as Christian Duncan. At the pro level, Cage Warriors is an organisation with worldwide credibility as a proven springboard to the UFC, with athletes such as undefeated UFC contender Jack Shore, a former IMMAF European Open champion, among the standout CWFC alumni.

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IMMAF Founder member Sweden back with talented new generation Fri, 15 Oct 2021 11:09:18 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

The Swedish team picked up an impressive 3 gold medals at the 2021 IMMAF World Cup, as they continue to produce talented prospects for the future.

Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi are just two of the athletes that have done their country proud by competing at the highest level of MMA. However, it looks like they won’t be the last big names to come out of Sweden, as the IMMAF World Cup showcased the next generation of Scandi talent.

With three gold medals, Sweden rocketed to the top of the IMMAF medal table for the first time since 2018, and it was the women who particularly impressed. Prague, in the Czech Republic, played host to a fantastic clash between Swedish team-mates, Josephine Modig and Nina Back. 

At just 23 years old, Back is the most decorated member of the Swedish team and was chasing an elusive gold medal, after winning 4 silvers at previous events. The future star had her mother and number one fan cheering her on from the crowd throughout the duration of the tournament. But, sadly for Back, it wasn’t enough as she lost via unanimous decision to one of IMMAF’s quickest rising prospects in Modig. 

Despite being an underdog in terms of experience, the Swede, who had impressively emerged the victor via first round KO against Ireland’s Caitlyn Hadfield in the previous round, completed her incredible debut on the IMMAF platform, to win the strawweight gold medal. At the end of the fight, both women displayed their emotion as Modig collapsed to the floor in celebration, before she shared an emotional embrace with her countryman. Modig showed a well-rounded game and is expected to have even more success in the future. Although coming agonisingly close to gold once again, Back remained in good spirits and is preparing to become one of the many IMMAF alumni to chase the heights of the pro game. The Swede, who is now expected to make a huge impact on the world of MMA, took to her Instagram to confirm the news.

The 5x silver medalist said: “5x IMMAF-WMMAA silver medalist, over and out, pro rankings next.”

It wasn’t just the strawweight division that highlighted the growth of Swedish MMA, as Yrsa Sandin claimed gold at lightweight. If defeating Eva Melo in a hard fought split decision wasn’t enough, the Stockholm based fighter has shown resilience in abundance over the past two years. She has been plagued with injuries that she worried may have prevented her from ever stepping foot in the cage again.

The gold medalist said: “It’s been 2 years out of the cage. 2 years with injuries that I never thought would heal. The road to the IMMAF World Cup was definitely not an easy one, but nothing worth doing ever is. This was not a flawless or even pretty fight, but I did manage to pull out a win and once again prove to myself that whatever life throws at me, I’ll always bounce back. 

After her crowning moment in Prague, Sandin is going to take a rest, before she prepares for the next step in her amateur career.

Sandin added: “Now I’m going to let my face heal and then get back to the drawing board.” 

Potentially the most sensational gold medal victory for Sweden at the World Cup, was that of Millie Eriksson. The flyweight continued Sweden’s run of dominance in that division with a submission victory over Germany’s Renana Bruckstein via standing guillotine. Despite the German’s success at the European Open, in which she took the silver medal, it was Eriksson who emerged victorious in a division which is stacked with talent. After stepping up from the junior ranks, Eriksson has proved that she is amongst the best amateur mixed martial artists on the planet.

The gold medalist was absolutely thrilled to have won the World Cup, but she is very confident that this is just the beginning.

Eriksson said: “I finally got to go and participate in the World Cup in Prague. Last year as a junior and now I’ve stepped up to the senior class and taken gold, just as it should be. This is where I belong, at the top of the prize pool. I’m made for this, remember that.”

The Swede was also deeply appreciative of everyone who has helped her along the road to becoming a World Cup champion.

She added: “Thank you to all the amazing people who have supported me, helped me and believed in me. Everyday of this camp, I have been inspired and motivated by you.”

Sweden has produced some fantastic talent over the years, but as the careers of the likes of Gustafsson come to an end, Swedish mixed martial arts fans can rejoice in the fact that if the IMMAF World Cup is anything to go by, the future is in very good hands.

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IMMAF President concludes successful meetings with stakeholders in Uzbekistan before Moscow visit Wed, 13 Oct 2021 16:02:11 +0000

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With travel opening up and Championships reignited, the IMMAF President is on the move again.

On Monday, President Brown concluded his visit to Uzbekistan with Board Director Tatiana Klimenko. There, they had a fruitful meeting with the President of the National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan, Shoabdurakhmanov Rustam Mavzurovich; Judo Association Chairman and Vice Minister of Defence,  Alisher Norboev; Vice President of the National Olympic Committee and Head of the Taekwondo Association, Sherzod Tashmatov; and Representative of the Cabinet of Ministers, Rashid Talipov (pictured below).

The IMMAF delegation then travelled onto Nukus in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region occupying the north-western part of Uzbekistan. Here the Uzbekistan MMA Association hosted and organised the first Central Asian MMA Championships among IMMAF member federations. Four national teams participated from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, bringing 54 fighters to Nukus’ Manezh Sports Complex.

While in Karakalpakstan, President Brown met with the head of the republic, Murat Kamalov.

President Brown with Republic of Karakalpakstan premier Murat Kamalov

President Brown credited  “special thanks to Uzbekistan MMA Federation Vice-president, Otabek Umarov, for his phenomenal work in developing the sport of MMA.”

Umarov also stands as Deputy Head of the State Security Service and former chairman  of the Triathlon Federation of Uzbekistan. In 2020, he was elected Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia, in connection with Uzbekistan winning the rights to host the Asian Youth Games in 2025.

Brown reported strong interest in Uzbekistan in the hosting of future IMMAF Championships.

President Brown also thanked the national president of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev, for his strong commitment to developing sport and for his government’s forward-thinking in its recognition of MMA.

From Uzbekistan, the IMMAF President flew onto Moscow on Monday, where he is engaged in strategic meetings with national combat sport and martial arts federations and to progress negotiations about future IMMAF championships in Russia. From there, the President flies onto Bahrain.

The National Olympic Committee welcomes IMMAF President Brown to Tashkent

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IMMAFA Youth Development Programme takes a holistic approach to personal growth Wed, 13 Oct 2021 15:31:28 +0000

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By James Eakin

In a bid to ensure athlete wellbeing and Olympic potential, Richie Cranny, President of IMMAFA has devised a unique Youth Development Program. This gives young kids the chance to be part of a national team whilst learning about the fundamentals of Mixed Martial Arts and the importance of mental health and body mechanics. The new 10-year accredited framework aims to build the mental fortitude and knowledge needed for professional athletes and coaches to succeed, working alongside counsellors and industry experts to build a cohesive unit of young athletes.

At the forefront of the IMMAFA’s new program is health and education. To pass through the next stage of grading, athletes will have to complete tests in nutrition, body mechanics and mental health, ensuring their longevity and giving them the self-belief required in a world enveloped in mental illness and tragic suicide rates. A new E-learning platform will give young athletes and their parents a forum to talk via an app to their coaches as well as experienced counsellors, who will be trained to recognise learning difficulties so that they are always able to help their pupils. 

The program, which is due to be rolled out to 10 gyms in January, will also feature an in-depth strength and conditioning program. This will allow athletes from a young age to develop the strength in their bodies before building into more advanced weight training environments. 

The early stages of the program will focus on motor skills and coordination, giving students the perfect platform to learn the technical aspects of movement required in MMA. The program also seeks to remove the violent aesthetic of cage fighting in its early stages by starting students on mat-based competition only. By breaking MMA down into two sections of grappling and striking, the program guarantees safe development of its youngest athletes. 

The inclusion of Danny Corr as an Advisory Board Member is a fantastic addition to the program. Corr was awarded the British Empire Medal this year thanks to his youth work with his Peace Through MMA and Fight to Unite groups, which helped youngsters involved with crime start in MMA to mitigate violence in the younger generations. This shows the IMMAFA’s commitment to ensuring that young athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds have an equal chance in taking part in something great. Furthermore, Cranny intends to form a Scholarship program to help families who cannot afford coaching fees. 

In the words of IMMAF President Kerrith Brown:

“MMA is a universal language recognised by youth worldwide, with the power to break boundaries and to unite”.

Cranny and the IMMAFA aim to champion this message through their Youth Development program.

With the Olympics coming to Australia in 2032, this new 10-year program is the perfect springboard to government recognition for the sport, and instills the values of self-discipline and respect in all its members. Encouraging their athletes to chase their dreams and not settle for less, the IMMAFA’s new program is a step in the right direction for young athlete development, prioritising the safety and mental wellbeing of its members.

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Is Mixed Martial Arts really a Dangerous Sport? Mon, 11 Oct 2021 14:16:43 +0000

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Ross Patterson

Mixed martial arts is a young sport. Since its conception in the late 1990s, it has grown to be the most popular combat sport in the world. 

During its rapid rise, a significant misconception took hold: that it is exceptionally dangerous to practise. This simply isn’t true. 

When two human beings agree to compete against one another in a martial arts contest, there are inevitably going to be injuries. Kicking, punching and grappling will result in damage to the human body – this is unavoidable.

The important distinction, however, is the type of injuries sustained. 

Injuries occur in every sport – even darts. But what we must focus on is the severity of the injuries to the competitors. 

A severe injury would include any damage done to the central nervous system (spinal cord etc), damage to the brain, broken bones, dislocations or ligament damage.

A minor injury would be a contusion (bruising), laceration (cut), strain, sprain or abrasion. 

So, let’s first compare MMA to another combat sport: boxing. Boxing has been massively popular, cross-culturally, for thousands of years. Until MMA came along, it was the most popular combat sport in the world. Many would consider boxing to be a safer sport than MMA. After all, fewer injuries are sustained, and athletes are only allowed to punch. But a study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found:

“The overall injury incidence in MMA competitors appears slightly higher than for boxers, but MMA fighters experience more minor contusion/bruising injuries. Boxers are more likely to experience serious injury such as concussion/head trauma involving loss of consciousness or eye injury such as retinal detachment.” 1

So, boxers suffer fewer injuries, but the injuries they do sustain are more severe than those of mixed martial artists. 

How does MMA compare to non-combat sports? Well, let’s take two massively popular, mainstream sports: rugby, and horse-riding. For a parent considering a sport for their child, the general consensus would likely be that horse-riding or rugby would be a safer option than mixed martial arts, but is this true?

Concussions in amateur rugby are one of the most common injuries sustained.2 A concussion is one of the most serious injuries as it indicates a trauma to the brain, and should be avoided at all costs. 

Repeated concussions are now closely linked to CTE: chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 

Symptoms include: “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, suicidality, parkinsonism, and eventually progressive dementia.”3 

Horse-riding is widely regarded by medical professionals as one of the most dangerous sports in the world, but that opinion doesn’t seem to be shared by the general public. The rider is on the back of a 500+ kg (1100lb) animal, often travelling at speeds of over 65 kph (40mph), and elevated 3m above the ground. A high incidence of serious injury and death is therefore unsurprising.

The danger of horse riding can be summed up in this quote from a study done on horse-related injuries in children:

“When using a severity score to compare it with other childhood injuries, equestrian-related injury ranked second only to pedestrians being struck by a car”.4

This is not a swipe at horse-riding or rugby. I have enjoyed both from a young age. But it’s important we have a clear definition of what constitutes a “dangerous” sport.

What does the data say about MMA? 

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation is the highest-level amateur MMA competition in the world. After the 2018 World Championship, the IMMAF published their injuries data5. After 334 matches over 5 days, the number of injuries were as follows:

Severe – 0 

Medium – 11

Slight – 166 

“Severe” injuries included serious facial damage and any brain injury with a structural cause, such as bleeding. “Medium” level injuries included fractures, dislocations and ligament damage. “Slight” were abrasions, bruises and lacerations. Most notably, there were no recorded concussions. All athletes who lost via KO/TKO i.e., strikes to the head, were suspended from competition and assessed by the medical team. Fourteen were sent for CT scans, all of which were normal. 

What we can see from this data is that injury frequency was high (49.7 per 100 bouts), but severity low. This pattern can also be seen in professional MMA:

“The most common type of injury was contusions (29.4%), followed by strains (16.2%), sprains (14.9%), and abrasions (10.1%).”6

The “dangerous” label applied to mixed martial arts is inaccurate and unfair. The data clearly shows that athletes, while likely to pick up a cut or bruise, are not likely to suffer a serious injury. As this issue is fundamental to the future global development of amateur MMA please find below key references and further information on this topic.

1. Combative Sports Injuries: An Edmonton Retrospective. Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2021 Oct 6];26:332–4. Available from:

2. Yeomans C, Caithríona. Injuries in amateur male and female rugby union. 2020 [cited 2021 Oct 6]; Available from:

3. Frequently Asked Questions about CTE | CTE Center [Internet]. [cited 2021 Oct 6]. Available from:

4. Tanya Jagodzinski, Gregory P DeMuri. Horse-related injuries in children: a review – PubMed [Internet]. PubMed. [cited 2021 Oct 6]. Available from:

5. IMMAF | 2018 World Championships | Headline Medical Stats [Internet]. [cited 2021 Oct 6]. Available from: Determining the prevalence and assessing the severity of injuries in mixed martial arts athletes – PubMed [Internet]. [cited 2021 Oct 6]. Available from:

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Why regulatory affairs is the keystone of IMMAF’s quest for recognition Mon, 11 Oct 2021 08:27:59 +0000

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By James Eakin

Since its creation in 2012, the IMMAF has worked tirelessly to ensure the proper regulation of the amateur MMA scene, with the end goal of reaching the Olympics. With multiple obstacles in their way, including the misleading stigma of brutish violence that surrounds the sport, as well as backlash from governing bodies such as the IOC and Global Association of International Sports Federations, the IMMAF is showing that amateur MMA will have a recognised spot in world sport in years to come. 

One of the most common misconceptions surrounding MMA is that there are no rules. From the early days of the UFC, MMA was billed as a no holds barred event, but in actuality, modern MMA is safer than boxing. Furthermore, adherence with governing bodies and federations has meant that amateur MMA is a purist sport that revolves around the ideals of combat sport. 

The creation of the Unified Amateur MMA Rules in 2014 has paved the way for proper regulation of the sport, ensuring that athlete safety is the priority at IMMAF events. Most notably, the banning of elbow strikes has upheld traditional MMA rules of allowing ground strikes whilst putting athlete safety first.

The work IMMAF has done for athletes from nations where MMA has previously not been well received cannot be understated. The legalisation of MMA in France in 2020 was a massive step forward for the sport, but prior to this moment it was the IMMAF that allowed French athletes to perform on a world stage. One of the best up and coming prospects of French MMA, Manon Fiorot, won medals in the IMMAF European Open and World Championships in 2017, before using her experience there to turn professional in 2018. The IMMAF has been and continues to be an invaluable source of support and opportunity for athletes facing such extraordinary circumstances.

Whilst MMA in Ireland was not illegal, it came very close to being made so in 2016 after the tragic death of Joao Carvalho. Following his fight against Charlie Ward under the Total Extreme Fighting promotion, Carvalho underwent emergency surgery at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, before tragically passing away from his injuries. This sparked outrage in the Irish MMA community, with media outlets and politicians calling for the banning of the sport. 

The IMMAF was able to show MMA in a different light, moving away from the unsanitary image that had been brought about after the death of Carvalho. The introduction of the All Ireland Team, which saw athletes from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland come together to compete was a moment of history for the sport and demonstrated a much more purist, family-friendly culture of amateur MMA that had been missing for a while. Not only that, but sponsorships from Irish superstar Conor McGregor have meant that the amateur scene in Ireland is now regarded in a far better light thanks to the work of the IMMAF in regulating the sport. 

The IMMAF has shown that amateur MMA is more than a sport, it is a community, where athletes and coaches alike come to show their skill in respectful, regulated and sanctioned events. Whilst there is still a long way to go, the IMMAF is proving that amateur MMA has the potential to be a respected sport suitable for any crowd or event.

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IMMAF President to observe Central Asian Championships in Uzbekistan Fri, 08 Oct 2021 15:10:41 +0000

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The IMMAF President Kerrith Brown and Board Director Tatiana Klimenko are enjoying a visit to Uzbekistan to observe a Central Asian, four-nations tournament hosted by the Uzbekistan MMA Association.

The inaugural Central Asian Mixed Martial Arts event is taking place in the city of Nukus this weekend, 9 – 10 October, with competing national teams from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and the host nation.

Watch event promo:

During his visit, the IMMAF President will also be discussing opportunities for hosting future IMMAF Championships with Uzbekistan MMA Association.

President Brown thanked the UMMAA for their tremendous hospitality and reported an appetite in Uzbekistan for IMMAF events.

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Former IMMAF medallist, Sinead Kavanagh gets shot at Cris Cyborg’s Bellator title Thu, 07 Oct 2021 14:39:40 +0000

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By Jorden Curran 

Ireland’s Sinead Kavangh will get her shot at one of the most prestigious prizes in pro MMA when she takes on formidable icon of the sport, Brazil’s Cristiane Justino Venâncio, popularly known as “Cyborg”, the reigning Bellator women’s featherweight world champion. 

Speaking on The MMA Hour, Bellator president Scott Coker revealed that the bout will take place as the main event of Bellator 271, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. 

Kavanagh took home a silver medal back in 2015 at the IMMAF World Amateur Championships in Las Vegas. In the semi-finals, “KO” Kavanagh needed just 38 seconds to land a devastating knockout blow, booking her place in the gold medal decider. However, her final bout against Jamie Herrington (originally a R3 stoppage for Herrington) was overturned to a no-contest as the Canadian failed a post-fight anti-doping examination, testing positive for amphetamines.

Kavanagh has built herself a reputation as a crowd pleasing, hard-nosed slugger and holds a 7-4 record since turning pro, currently on a 2-fight win streak. Cyborg (24-2), a former UFC world champion, snatched the Bellator crown for her decorated collection back in January of 2020. The 36-year-old has defended her title twice with both wins coming via stoppage.

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2014 IMMAF World Champion Carlos Hernandez Earns Professional UFC Contract Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:06:11 +0000

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By Jake Smith

2014 IMMAF World Champion Carlos Hernandez has become the latest IMMAF alumni to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). 

The Flyweight fought for a UFC contract on Oct 5th’s Dana White’s Contender Series against Spaniard, Daniel Barez. The 27-year-old joins the likes of Brendan Allen and Manon Fiorot as IMMAF champions to sign with the UFC. 

Barez brought the early pressure but Hernandez nullified it with slick lateral movement and footwork; Keeping Barez guessing what would be returned in his direction with a barrage of strikes to both the body and the head. Both men landed big shots early and appeared to be as happy working forward as they did working back. Hernandez landed a flying knee with less than two minutes to go but Barez took it and recovered well. In the last minute, Barez landed a big takedown, took the back and finished the round with a rear naked choke attempt.

The second round started much as the first did, with Barez bringing the pressure and he caught Hernandez with a big right hand. After a scramble, Hernandez found himself on Barez’s back and showed his grappling prowess, searching for a submission whilst constantly chipping away and working well with his ground and pound. It was an utterly dominating few minutes for Hernandez before Barez managed to get the fight back to its feet and landed a takedown of his own less than 30 seconds before the bell.

As they entered the third, the general consensus was that each man had taken a round. Barez took a different approach, opting to let Hernandez come forward and looked to counter his offence. Half way through the round, Barez landed another takedown but Hernandez managed to work himself free then went looking for a takedown of his own. The more active of the two, Hernandez’s forward pressure and high work rate never faltered throughout the 15 minutes. It was apparent Barez was starting to tire & Hernandez seized the opportunity to increase the pace of the fight & landed numerous clean strikes before the end of the contest.

With over double the control time and almost double the significant strikes across the 15 minutes, Hernandez took a 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 split decision victory. Speaking to Laura Sanko post fight, Hernandez admitted he wasn’t happy with his work. 

He said: “ I knew it was close, I thought it could have gone either way. I am kind of disappointed with how I did, it’s a tough interview right now. Not my best performance but I am happy that a close one finally went my way.”

Prior to offering the American the UFC contract, UFC President Dana White praised Hernandez for his work.

White said: “A kid was in a great fight, he beat a guy with twice as much experience than him, I think one of the things you really have to look at in this fight was his opponent, Daniel Barez’s opponents records were 44-19. I think that Carlos Hernandez lost the first round, came back, fought his ass off, won the next two rounds. He’s only 7-1, I think the kid has a bright future in this sport and I am going to give him a shot!”

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Two Former Irish IMMAF World Medallists Return to Action in Pro Ranks Thu, 07 Oct 2021 10:47:40 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

Since the dawn of IMMAF, the Irish contingent that attends each competition has always been strong. The talent coming from the Emerald Isle is improving year on year. The most recent example of this is from the Inaugural IMMAF World Cup – Prague where the All-Ireland squad collected a stunning haul of 12 medals. 

The conveyor belt of talent, combined with the development of their athletes has seen many of them succeed when they opt to hone their craft in the pro game. 

This weekend two World Championship medalists will compete professionally. 2016 World Silver Medalist Nathan Kelly will make the short trip to Templepatrick to compete for his first pro belt against Shem Rock at Clan Wars 42 on Saturday. The following day, 2018 European and World Champion Ryan Splliane will throw down in Amsterdam for the second time this year at Levels Fight League 3.

In 2016, Kelly went on a spectacular run of wins in his sole IMMAF competition. The BJJ Black Belt scored a number of Triangle Chokes in his run-up to the final. Opening his IMMAF account with a slick mounted triangle over South Africa’s Reece Van Der Merwe only to follow it up with an arm-triangle choke in his semi-final bout. 

Kelly was lighting up Las Vegas with his performances only for Shoaib Yousaf (UK) to put a stop to the party by outpointing him in the final. 

Two consecutive losses meant Kelly had a turbulent beginning to life as a pro in 2017. His refusal to be discouraged by the losses soon saw him bounce back with two finishes. His most recent being a 9 second KO over Rogger Lopez. The performance stood out so much that he was granted his first title shot. 

Fellow Irishman, Spillane has a long history in IMMAF dating back to 2015 where he picked up his first piece of silverware after an Achilles Hold submission booked the then young heavyweight a spot in the final. 

Gold wasn’t to be on that day but his yearly return to IMMAF and constant improvements lead to him taking over the Heavyweight division in 2018. Improvements in striking in conjunction with a variety of submission finishes that includes an omoplata, toe hold and ankle lock, made him the most dangerous Heavyweight on the amateur circuit. 

He rounded off his amateur career by showing off his striking ability in his 32-second domination of Dane Alchin at the 2020 Oceania Open Championships. A transition to pro came over a year later, however, it wasn’t the dream debut he would have hoped as a trip to Amsterdam against a very tough opponent at LFL resulted in defeat. 

After accepting a short notice fight under the same promotional banner, “Hulk” is looking for redemption after his debut. He has made improvements in his game not to mention being a part of both Johnny Walker and Tom Aspinall’s most recent camps. A determined and hungry Spillane has been gunning for his opportunity to return to the cage and will get to do so this weekend against Salim El Ouassaidi at LFL 3.

The post Two Former Irish IMMAF World Medallists Return to Action in Pro Ranks appeared first on IMMAF.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St Pierre amongst the crowd for EMMAA invitational and youth try-outs Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:48:26 +0000

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By James Sweetnam

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St Pierre were celebrity spectators, as the English Mixed Martial Arts Association searched for the England representatives for the 2022 IMMAF Youth World Championships.

The Arnold Sports Festival, created by Austrian superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1989, took place for the first time in the UK at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Over the weekend it played host to the EMMAA invitational and youth try-outs in which the best prospects in the country competed for their chance to represent England.

The multi-sport festival is the biggest of its kind on the planet and prides itself in displaying a high level of competition in all of the sports that it showcases. These range from arm wrestling to powerlifting and the quality of athletes on display at the invitational impressed Paul Reed, the Board Director and Head of Performance at the EMMAA.

Reed said: “The standard of the competitors at this weekend’s EMMAA invitational and youth qualifiers at the prestigious Arnold Classic was extremely high and the bar has clearly been raised.”

He also felt that the honourable nature of everybody at the event made for a great occasion.

Reed added: “Everyone involved, from athletes, coaches, parents and fans, showed great sportsmanship and created a fantastic environment allowing the young athletes to really showcase their skills.” 

The President of EMMAA, Marc Goddard, was delighted that two legends of the sport were present at the invitational. He is also extremely confident that his IMMAF recognised governing body is doing massive things to change the landscape of mixed martial arts at the amateur level.

The IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs and UFC referee said: “Huge thank you to the legends Khabib and GSP for stopping by at EMMMA’s invitational. Don’t sleep on what we are doing for the sport of MMA.”

IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown, was also at the event to show his support, as well as to watch the fighters competing to be part of England’s team for the 2022 Youth World Championships. The former Olympian had huge praise for Goddard and appreciated that St Pierre attended.

Brown said: “I’d like to congratulate Marc Goddard and the English Mixed Martial Arts Association for their incredible efforts to put on their invitational event at Arnold Sports UK and thank you for visiting too GSP.”

This year’s IMMAF Youth World Championships saw 331 of the best young fighters in the world competing and developing their skills in Sofia, Bulgaria. The 2022 tournament is set to be an even bigger event and those who qualified to represent England will be motivated to compete at a very high level. Reed is extremely confident that the England team will be one to be reckoned with at the tournament.

He emphasised: “Mark Spencer, the Youth Head Coach of England and his coaching team are building a special squad to take over to the IMMAF Youth Championships and the work continues across all the age groups and categories. All of the EMMAA coaching team, headed up by Paul Kelly, will be working hard to develop relationships with English MMA coaches as we look forward to building on this momentum for 2022.”

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The Rise of Ramazan – how a talented wrestler became IMMAF World Ranked Number 1 Tue, 05 Oct 2021 20:09:24 +0000

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By Jake Smith

Many mixed martial arts talents have honed their craft on the IMMAF stage. Names such as Brendan Allen and Muhammad Mokaev have held the coveted pound for pound #1 spot, before turning over and creating big names for themselves in the professional ranks. 

Team Bahrain’s Ramazan Gitinov currently finds himself at the top of the IMMAF tree but where did it all start and how did he make it to the top step?

Gitinov grew up in Khunzakh, Dagestan, the same village as Team Bahrain head coach Eldar Eldarov. He started wrestling at a very young age, with his family encouraging him to compete in sport from day one. Eldarov invited him in for a sparring session, and Gitinov subsequently outwrestled, and seriously impressed, Eldarov.

In 2017, Gitinov made the decision to move from Dagestan to Bahrain in order to be under the tutelage of Eldarov and further develop his MMA skills.

The dominant wrestler opened his IMMAF account with a podium finish, something that would become a regular occurrence as he continued to develop as a well rounded mixed martial artist. His debut competition was the 2017 IMMAF African Open Championships, in which the dominant wrestler took home a silver medal, defeating Riyaad Pandy in round one, before coming up short against Eliezer Kubanza.

He then entered the 2017 World Championships as still a relative unknown. In the opening round, he faced French amateur debutant, Fabien Xabidi, who ended Gitinov’s tournament in only 25 seconds, finishing the contest via first round KO/TKO.

Following the defeat, Gitinov spent almost two years away from competing, opting to train every day, twice a day, for over a year in order to improve his technique. He struck a very different figure upon his return at the 2019 Asian Open, entering the competition two weight divisions higher than he had back in 2017, adding his name to a highly competitive 185lbs division.

The opening round draw produced the toughest matchup possible for Gitinov, facing off against pound for pound number one, 2017 World Silver medalist and 2018 European Gold medalist, Axel Sola.

Gitinov stormed to victory, getting the nod on all three judges’ scorecards. Showing vast improvements in the striking department, whilst simultaneously demonstrating the high calibre wrestling synonymous with Bahrain competitor across rounds one and two proved too much for Sola. The victory was not only one of the biggest upsets in the tournament but kick-started an extremely successful run for Gitinov. In the semi final, he faced Aleksandr Val and once again claimed a dominant unanimous decision victory.

Unfortunately, Gitinov was forced to withdraw from the final, but still took home his second silver medal from three competitions, and very much began to make a name for himself in the process.

Just a few weeks later he was competing in his maiden European Championships. The weight may have been different, this time competing at Welterweight, but the dominant performances continued, claiming a 30-26, 30-27, 30-27 unanimous decision victory over Ivan Kurelaru in the opening round. Gitinov threw it back to his first amateur bout, with back to back round one Anaconda Chokes against Alex Gill and Dario Petrolo, which earned him a place in the final. Gitnov’s relentless pressure proved too much for Morozov, and the Bahrain man earned his first IMMAF gold medal; and going from a 1-2 unknown, to a 7-2 prospect in the space of two tournaments.

Keen to add more gold to his medal haul, and looking to remain active, Gitinov was back in the IMMAF cage before the year was out; competing next, at the World Championships. Proving to be his submission of choice, and a submission which lends itself perfectly to Gitinov’s heavy wrestling dynamic, he locked up yet another two first round Anaconda Chokes against Jario Carreon & Rusi Minev. He faced debutante Quentin Paounaud, of whom Gitinov dispatched in the second round by way of TKO; cruising into the semi-finals with less than 4 minutes of cage time. Gitinov would square off against 2019 Russian MMA champion & undefeated prospect Rustam Khadisgadzhiev in the highly anticipated semi-final. He toughed out a unanimous decision victory and handed the Russian his first amateur loss. The stage was set for an all Bahrain showdown between Zagid Gaidarov and Gitinov but due to Gaidarov having to withdraw, Gitinov was awarded the gold medal, adding a World Championship to his European gold earlier that year. With that, he achieved his childhood dream to become a world champion.

Although 2020 proved a difficult year for combat sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 24-year-old still found time to collect an Oceania Open gold to his collection and further solidify his place as the IMMAF pound 4 pound number 1.

In his first tournament back since the pandemic, at the 2021 European Championships, Gitinov headed into the tournament with many interested to see if he could defend his European crown. He picked up where he left off and was again on the top of the podium. He proved too much for Musa Ramazanov in the opening round, who succumbed to a second round submission. Following that, Gitinov implemented his powerful & commanding wrestling game to systematically work his way to two unanimous decisions in the quarter and semi finals. He was set to face fellow countryman Murad Guseinov in the final but Guseinov withdrew due to an injury.

With the world championships just around the corner, Gitinov could join an elite group of IMMAF competitors who retained both European and World titles.

His dominance has not only benefited Gitinov, but his nation too. He has been at the forefront of Bahrain’s meteoric rise through the IMMAF rankings, playing a large role in helping them secure the number one place in the IMMAF country rankings.

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Former Double IMMAF Champion Leah McCourt In Action At Bellator 267 Thu, 30 Sep 2021 08:24:23 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra 

This Friday, Leah McCourt (5-1) returns to action in the Co-Main Event of Bellator 267 against Jessica Borga in London, England. The Belfast fighter returns to fight in Europe for the first time since Bellator 240 in Dublin, which saw her defeat a tough Judith Ruis in the card’s headliner. 

The Bellator MMA fan favourite has fought on one occasion since then, making her US debut in a winning performance against Janay Harding in a much different setting to the last. The fight had the added factor of taking place behind closed doors.

Speaking with Bellator MMA ahead of the Borga fight, she explained how she is happy with how this camp has been smoother and is excited to be welcomed by the fans in Wembley Arena. 

“My favourite place to fight is in Europe, obviously we have the best fans and I’m so excited to be fighting in London.

“Obviously in Connecticut, we had no fans. It was a bit different. We were still in the middle of the pandemic and the gyms weren’t really open. There were a lot of barriers to get to that fight but this time it has been a lot smoother and more comfortable, it’s closer to home.”

Prior to turning pro, “The Curse” was very active in IMMAF competition, going undefeated across two competitions. In 2015 she secured the European Open title at Lightweight before adding a World Gold medal at Featherweight to the collection a year later. 

Across both competitions, the potential to see a finish was always high when McCourt entered the cage. Her ability to finish a fight was exceptional with 4 of 5 fights ending within the distance, be it via submission or TKO/KO. 

That ability to finish prevailed once again in her last professional bout when she finished Harding with a Triangle Choke. The win came following some adversity in the fight but McCourt’s self-belief and hard work resulted in her being able to overcome that and score another win. 

“My belief system has always been that no matter who you’re against, what happened, there’s a way to win. There’s always a way to win, I think that’s a testament to the hours on the mats. Getting that position is hundreds of being put in a bad position at the gym.

“I’ve always had a killer instinct, I’ve always known I’ve had that ability to finish and when to finish. I feel that in my fights you’ll be able to tell that.” 

This Friday, McCourt hopes to bring back some of the fighting style she displayed as an amateur and take one step closer to her destiny of being a World Champion. 

“I want to go out and flow and enjoy it and show that I can fight in every area and be dominant in every area. I was more kind of aggressive in my amateur days, I want to bring that back. I fight smart but I want to get into a fight as well.”

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EMMAA Presents: Four Nations MMA Invitational & Youth Worlds Selections at the Arnold Sports Festival UK Thu, 30 Sep 2021 08:21:28 +0000

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The English Mixed Martial Arts Association is proud to present a four-nations, amateur MMA invitational at the Arnold Sports Festival UK on 1 October at the NEC Birmingham UK from 10:30 to 15:00 hrs.

With all matches to be held under the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s Unified Amateur MMA Rules, thefight card (listed below) features competitors from England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.

See fight card below.

Freely open to Arnold Sports Festival ticket holders, the tournament is an unmissable attraction for MMA fans looking to catch the sport’s emerging regional stars. Renowned home nations IMMAF veterans include Muhammed Mokaev, Jack Shore and Leah McCourt among others.


EMMAA will also be hosting its team selections for the 2022 IMMAF Youth World Championships for 12 – 17 year olds at the expo on 2 – 3 October, starting at 10.30 hrs on Saturday and 10:00 hrs on Sunday. The matches will take place under IMMAF’s age-banded Youth MMA rules which disallow strikes head strikes for under 18s, as follows: 

• IMMAF Youth A 16-17s (U18)

• IMMAF Youth B 14-15s (U16)

• IMMAF Youth C 12-13s (U14)

The tournaments follow a round robin format with the two athletes who earn the most points earning a place in the squad. Where there are just two competitors in a bracket, knock-out tournament rules apply.

IMMAF’s prestigious Youth World Championships attract national teams from all around the world, with the recent 2021 Youth Worlds in Bulgaria participated in by over 300 under-eighteens from 23 nations.


  • Friday 1 October, from 10:30 hrs


Ciaran MaskeyZKJ DojoNIRLewis CoyleHigher Level MMASCT
WWPatrick PigottTrials MMA IRLKledi DishaBST NorthamptonENG
SWAine HanleyZKJ DojoNIRKelly StaddonSBG ManchesterENG
MWJesse WalshTrials MMA IRLMatthew Beard Bodmin mmaENG
LWJames ShotboltRange MMAENGTunde LawalHigher Level MMASCT
LWEmmet CorrZKJ DojoNIRVeniamin CiubotazuBST NorthamptonENG
FWShawn ConwaySubmission FactorySCTJosh HughesSBG ManchesterENG
BWEwan Jack ListerAVTENGDenzel Chibonda BST NorthamptonENG
BWAdam RajaBlackbeard MMAENGLogan McgonicalHigher Level MMASCT
LWAlex AndrewsAvaddonENGJamie RoperTFT MMAENG


  • Saturday 2 October, from 10:30am 
1MCU40kgRyley McGrath- O’TooleThomas Williamson
2MAU65.8kgCharlie BettsTaylor Herron
3MAU65.8kgTravis RoeLouis Hubbard
4FAU65.8kgLuciana MoroiBrooke Butler
5MAU65.8kgCharlie BettsLouis Hubbard
6MAU65.8kgTravis RoeTaylor Herron
7FAU65.8kgBrooke ButlerJessica Hammond
8MAU65.8kgCharlie BettsTravis Roe
9MAU65.8kgLouis HubbardTaylor Herron
10FAU65.8kgJessica HammondLuciana Moroi


  • Sunday 3 October, from 10:00hrs
1M   C    U44kgAaron SutherlandShea  Williams 
2M   C     U37kgFinley  TurleyEvan Anderson
3M   C    U44kgShea  Williams Bradley  McDonough
4F   C    U52kgMacie GaffneySaskia Law
5M   C    U44kgBradley  McDonoughAaron Sutherland
6M   B    U62kgJustin NewtonJJ Wilson
7M   B    U48kgScott BedfordJack Rimmer
8M   B    U62kgJustin NewtonAlfie Barber
9M   B    U67kgToby  Carter Abdullah Suleman
10M   B    U62kgAlfie BarberJJ Wilson
11M   A    U56.7kgCory BethellShalok Basra
12M   A    U56.7kgLewis LeverTyler Derbyshire
13M   A    U61.2kgJakob WebbMackenzie Liddle
15M   A    U56.7kgLiam RouseCory Bethell
16M   A    U56.7kgShalok BasraLewis Lever
17M   A    U77.1kgAlex OliverCharlie Wilson
19M   A    U56.7kgTyler DerbyshireLiam Rouse
20M   A    U56.7kgCory BethellLewis Lever
21M   A    U56.7kgShalok BasraTyler Derbyshire
22F   A CatchweightSophie BellisStella James
23M   A    U56.7kgShalok BasraLiam Rouse


Brought to you by Stephen Olexy (An Experience With) and Eddie Hall the 2017 World’s Strongest Man. They have both officially entered into business with Arnold Schwarzenegger to bring the Arnold Sports Festival to the UK!

The Arnold Sports Festival UK will be a celebration of health, fitness and nutrition, a full weekend of motivation and inspiration. The festival will feature the biggest and best multi-sport competitions, high quality experiences combined with the biggest and best brands in the world, exhibiting the newest freshest products on the market. This event will give you the opportunity to see competitions from multiple sports with the finest athletes in the world. Sports will Include: Strongman, Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Arnold Fitness Games, MMA, Boxing, Gymnastics, Cheerleading, Arm Wrestling, Dance + many more to be confirmed. The Arnold Sports Festival UK will be the ultimate experience and spectacle that the UK fitness, Health & sports community desires and deserves.

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The Mexican MMA Federation gears up for the IMMAF Championships with a national gathering of its best athletes Wed, 22 Sep 2021 19:23:28 +0000

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The Mexican Mixed Martial Arts Federation (FAMM) organised a gathering of talents – including the country’s best athletes and coaches in all weight divisions as part of planning and preparations for the IMMAF World Championships. The retreat – which included mental and physical training sessions, took place at the Dorados Resort and Congress Centre in Oaxtepec, which is a 90-minute drive from Mexico City, on 18-19th September.

First day of the session saw the federation put all participants through Covid testing protocols in line with stringent guidelines laid down by the Mexican Ministry of Health, and supervised by the FAMM’s chief medical officer Dr Victor Hugo Garcia.

Once the medicals were completed, the delegates took part in a mental training session organised by a sport psychologist with the aim of maximising the potential of each competitor.

There was also an opportunity for the FAMM organisational team – including coaches, officials, and administrators to meet in person, something which the Covid crisis had prevented until now.

FAMM President Ubaldo Marroquin said:

“We have been working extremely hard to make this gathering a success and we are very happy with the results. The best amateur athletes in Mexico, both women and men and across all the divisions, have joined us here as part of preparations for the upcoming World Championships. It was very important for us to be able to meet and interact with each other, to have a number of practical training sessions and also to have an opportunity to thank the Executive Director of CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Sport and Physical Culture) Ana Guevara for her ongoing engagement with FAMM.” 

FAMMA athlete Nora Ochoa said: “After going through some very challenging times in the last 18 months because of COVID, it has been great to have this opportunity to meet fellow athletes and to see with my own eyes the commitment that FAMM has to the development of amateur MMA in Mexico”.

Concluding a speech to the FAMM delegation, President Ubaldo Marroquin said: “It has been amazing to see the positive energy and commitment to MMA by all the delegates here. I can assure you that this gathering is just the first of many and that we are really looking forward to sending a highly motivated and competitive Mexican team to the IMMAF World Championships at the end of November.”

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Featherweight queen Slavka Holubjakova will be back for more after winning IMMAF Youth World Championships for Slovakia Wed, 22 Sep 2021 14:38:55 +0000

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By Jorden Curran

Slovakia’s Youth MMA team were in great form at the 2021 IMMAF Youth World Championships. Following the amalgamation of IMMAF and WMMAA, Slovakia’s MMA governing groups successfully combined to form one united body for the country – the Slovak MMA Union (MAMMAL – SZMMA Slovensky Zvaz MMA) – with Mgr. Ing. Marek Herda serving as the organisation’s President.  

Ahead of the Youth World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, Director of Slovak MMA Union – Branislav Hutka – made the premonition that Slovakia’s young talents were set to make a splash and surprise many, competing at the youth level for the first time as 1 of 23 countries, up against some of the largest and most decorated youth MMA nations including the USA, Russia and Ukraine.

The small but talented Slovakian team consisted of just 5 athletes alongside coaching staff, with rivals such as Kazakhstan and Ireland fielding teams of 25 – 30 athletes. Impressively, Slovakia placed 8th in the Youth World Championships medal table with a pair of medal winners achieving gold and bronze, ahead of standout nations such as Italy, Bahrain, Romania and hosts Bulgaria.

Newly crowned Youth A featherweight queen, Slavka Holubjakova (pictured, centre) took out opposition from Kazakhstan, winning her opening bout with an arm-bar submission in the first round. In the semi-finals she stopped Ireland’s Louise Brady, who lasted until the third round before succumbing to Holubjakova’s rear-naked-choke. Finally, Slovakia’s champion was crowned as she pulled off a triangle choke submission, finishing Bulgarian silver medal winner Violeta Starcheva in the opening stanza.  

At the age of 17, Slavka’s world title in the under-18s category marked her as a top young prospect among the youth MMA talents of her country. 

“I started with martial arts when I was 9 and it was BJJ which first got my attention,” she explains. “MMA fascinated me not long after, but my parents didn’t like the idea of me getting punched in the face.” IMMAF’s commitment to the healthy development of young athletes is a foremost priority and is reflected within youth competition rule sets which prohibit strikes to the head for all athletes under the age of 18. 

“It fascinated me every day, more and more,” Slavka added. She later took up Muay Thai around the age of 14, adding a striking element to compliment her BJJ skills, but MMA continued to call and her training shifted to Mixed Martial Arts just one year prior to collecting the IMMAF youth world title. 

“I think the feedback [in Slovakia] was quite great,” Slavka commented. In Slovakia, MMA is just getting more popular among other sports and every win just helps its popularity. A gold medal from the World Championships was unexpected, and I guess people were surprised but very glad.”

Prior to Slavka’s triumph, her rivals from Kazakhstan, Ireland and Bulgaria would have been considered the more likely champions, but in taking the gold medal back home to Slovakia she has demonstrated that MMA’s growing popularity is capable of positively impacting youth and creating national stars in the nation’s young generation, just as it has done within Ireland, Kazakhstan and beyond.   

“I am very thankful for that opportunity, because before I fought just with Slovak girls in MMA. It was a great experience and I hope there will be more girls from more countries next year.”

Slavka will soon turn 18 years of age and in doing so will graduate as a champion from the IMMAF youth platform and become eligible to compete within the junior (under 21) and senior (18+) international IMMAF championships. 

“Next year I hope I’ll catch the World Championships, because I’ll be 18 at the end of the Summer. However, if I won’t be an adult by the start of the tournament I want to compete and win gold again for Slovakia [at the Youth Championships].”

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Promising Israel team demonstrates appetite for MMA in nation’s youth Wed, 22 Sep 2021 14:37:09 +0000

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By Jorden Curran

It was a memorable debut for Israel at the 2021 IMMAF Youth MMA World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, concluding back in August . For the newly established Israeli MMA Federation (ISR-MMA), the mission was simple; to demonstrate that youth MMA in Israel is worth recognition and support from the nation’s ministry of sport. 

ISR-MMA president Ido Pariente was ambitious in hoping to see the Israeli team return home with at least a single medal, as while the objective may have been simple, the newcomer team would have to venture through treacherously deep waters. 7 young Israeli hopefuls alongside their 4 coaches waded into a sea of 22 other nations including the likes of the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Ireland and host nation Bulgaria, all with much larger teams and proven track records of youth MMA development. 

For Israel, the outcome was joyous with not just one medal, but two, as Hod Maman and Yoav Kilstein both stepped on to the podium to claim bronze medals while their fellow teammates, despite not making it to the podium, produced steadfast efforts on the world stage. 

Upon advancing to the quarterfinals of the male Youth A welterweight tournament, 18-year-old Hod Maman bagged his bronze medal by sensationally defeating Ivan Lytvyn of Ukraine, the nation who would go on to lead the Youth Championships medal table. Maman’s exit from the tournament came in the semi-finals against Ireland’s Max Lally.

15-year-old Yoav Kilstein navigated the depths of the male Youth B 159lb (72kg) division, earning his bronze medal with a 3-1 run of results to enter the semi-finals, impressively as the no.2 seed. The underdog challenger bested rivals from Estonia, Kazakhstan and the USA, who were the no.1 ranked team heading into the competition after their dominance of the 2019 Youth World Championships in Rome.  

The ISR-MMA president believes that the success of Israel’s steadfast young talent is proof of their potential under the IMMAF banner, upon the world’s premier amateur MMA platform; “The medals earned in the youth world championship are not only a symbol of the federation’s hard work, but proof that Israel has world class talent even before the federation was created,” Pariente commented. “We are here to nurture this hope and promising national ability. Now our job is to show what the federation can do about the talent that exists, with the help of our government.”

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Indian MMA Open event gives athletes new chance to compete and serves as qualifier for IMMAF World Championships Wed, 22 Sep 2021 14:35:25 +0000

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By Caoilte de Barra

After 7 months without action MMA India successfully held the Indian Open MMA Championships from the 9th-12th of September. The last competition to go ahead before that was the National Championships, held from 18th to 21st of February 2021 in Lucknow Uttar Pradesh. 

A month after those national championships, a second wave of COVID-19 hit India hard with the country only beginning to normalize in July. It was then that the Board of Directors decided to organise another event as the morale of coaches, athletes, officials and instructors alike had been completely shattered after restrictions put a halt to them travelling to various IMMAF events.

The event came about after the Madhya Pradesh Association, led by Shri Devendra Pratap Singh Tomar and General Secretary MP Association and Vice-President MMA India, Vikas Sharma spoke with MMA India President, Sharif Bapu. Following their proactive approach, the board decided to host the Indian Open National Championship. This competition will serve as a trial for team selection to represent India at the next World Championships.

The competition proved to be a success with 212 athletes competing across 4 days, with each day’s competition streamed live on the LockerRoom India YouTube Channel. 

The event was a pivotal step forward for MMA India as it was the first time they operated with 2 cages and implemented the IMMAF weigh-in policy with no allowances. Lodging and boarding were also arranged at the venue itself making the event run much smoother. As expected, medals were given out, however, as a token of their appreciation, each category received Rs 5000. 

The improvements in the event management and operational side of the tournament were historic for the federation. The step-up in hosting events attracted the attention of national politicians and Celebrities.

Shri Ramesh Mendola, President of the Madhya Pradesh State Olympic Association came for the Inauguration and applauded the positive morale of the fighters and coaches. For the final day of the competition, National General Secretary of the BJP Political Party, Shri Kailash Vijayvargiya was in attendance.

The competition itself saw a large number of fights occur over the 4 days with 2018 IMMAF Junior World Champion Mahboob Khan proving the highlight. The dominant champion continued his reign over the flyweight division after retaining his Gold Medal for the third successive year. This adds another feather to the cap of the young fighter that also added a National Championship to his list of accolades back in March. The full list of medallists from the event can be found here.

Following the event, a team of 15 athletes were selected and are now looking forward to taking part in the IMMAF World Championship later this year.

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IMMAF Championship fight to be reenacted at AMC Fight Night Wed, 22 Sep 2021 14:33:09 +0000

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By Caolite de Barra

In the opening round of the 2018 IMMAF-WMMAA World Championships Super Heavyweight division Griogriy Ponomarev and Shamil Gaziev in an entertaining three-round battle. Less than three years later, they meet again, although this time they will be wearing 4oz gloves over 5-minute rounds. 

That fight was the only year Shamil Gaziev failed to medal at an IMMAF competition and is surrounded by controversy after Ponomarev went on to win silver. Only to have the medal rescinded following an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 for the presence of Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone LTM (DHCMT-LTM). 

A 2-year ban was imposed on Ponomarev and following his suspension he opted to turn pro, signing with Russian promotion, AMC Fight Nights in November of 2020. 

Since turning pro the 25-year-old has had two fights, finishing them both within the two-minute mark of the fight. His debut was the more impressive of the two as he defeated a 13-fight pro in Shakhmaral Dzhetpisov. He previously had been champion in the Kazakhstan based promotion, Alash Pride FC. 

KHK MMA Team fighter, Shamil Gaziev went on a seven-fight tear in 2019 after dropping down to Heavyweight. A run that saw him finish every fight and top the podium at each of the African, Asian and European Open Championships. His incredible win streak while representing Bahrain cemented himself as one of the best amateur fighters in the world and was put to a halt at the World Championships by the eventual winner, Gadzhimurad Bagautdinov

The loss saw Gaziev settle for a Bronze medal and less than a year later he made the jump to pro. The former student of Abdulamanap Nurmagomedov boasts an undefeated pro record of his own at 5-0. His fights have been across both Belarus and Russia and have all been by way of finish. 

The rematch between both of these men is one of the fights to watch this weekend as Gaziev looks to avenge that early amateur loss whilst Ponomarev looks to leave his amateur controversy behind him. This fight between two of the most highly touted upcoming Russian Heavyweights is not expected to make it to the distance when they meet on Friday.

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Two IMMAF star alumni are back, with Mokaev and Sola looking for wins this weekend in Brave CF 54 Wed, 22 Sep 2021 14:31:20 +0000

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By Jake Smith

Two of the most decorated IMMAF Alumni, Muhammad “The Punisher” Mokaev and Axel  Sola, will feature in key bouts at BRAVE CF 54 on Saturday 25th September.

The duo collected a combined 11 medals during their IMMAF tenure and have continued to display impressive form since moving over to the professional game.

With only 5 professional bouts under his belt, Mokaev’s star power and impressive performances up until this point has earned him the coveted co-main event slot on the card, a feat reached by very few so early in their careers.

Last time out, Mokaev met Ibragim Navruzov in a 130lbs catchweight contest. The bout was declared a no contest when, after an accidental groin shot, Navruzov decided he could not continue. Up next for Mokaev, is the seasoned professional Blaine O’Driscoll. In their virtual face off, Mokaev reflected on the last contest and explained why he decided to take on O’Driscoll next. He said:
“My last opponent was good, he was 6-1, he fought in Russia, he’s a tough solid opponent. I called him out and the fight didn’t make any noise, the fight was a no contest but even if I smashed him up people would say ‘you’re fighting guys who are no good’ but he was a solid opponent who had good, high wrestling technique. Beating Blaine will give me more exposure in Europe and the UK scene. We have similar fans, Ireland, UK, so beating him will give me bigger exposure.”

O’Driscoll agreed, stating a win for him would no doubt advance his notoriety further than most other fights in the division:
“I welcome it. He’s got a massive following, I’ve got about 1,000 followers. I could fight 5 other guys and it wouldnt do the same for me as beating Mokaev.”

O’Driscoll is arguably Mokaev’s most challenging professional opponent. Having made the walk 13 times, across an array of promotions including Bellator and Cage Warriors, he is also Mokaev’s most experienced opponent to date. The Irishman comes into the contest on the back of a decision loss to Jose Torres, after taking that bout with just four days notice. Having competed for 11 years, O’Driscoll respectfully questioned the difference between an amateur athlete working their way through an IMMAF competition to the way he built his professional career. He said:
“Professional bouts are different than IMMAF bouts, 22-0 is great but you can rack up 5 fights in a week at IMMAF events, I wish I had got the experience of doing that but when I was amateur the scene was like doing professional fights and I’ve taken all the risks, I fight at many different weights, that’s how I have taken a few stupid risks and a couple of losses. But he’s never really been in trouble and may not have had to dig deep like he will in this fight.”

Although focussed purely on his own path Mokaev disputed the claim of amateur and professional bouts being vastly different, citing his own experience as an example. He said:
“Now in the case of amateur fighters, there are some guys who are tougher than professional guys because they understand a new level of smart training. For example, when I was 4-0-0 as an amateur I beat Liam Gittins, he’s 7-1 professional now I think. When I was still an amateur he was 5-0-0 professional but I never cared about that.”

“I never fought in the IMMAF seniors but the guy that I beat in Juniors (​Tynyshtyk Zhanibek), has just become European senior champion, he just won the gold medal. I beat him in juniors and he’s now climbing up in different divisions, but I just focus on my own path.”Multi IMMAF medalist Axel Sola, from France, will compete in only his second professional bout when he faces the vastly more experienced Wawrzyniec Bartnik in a 175lbs catchweight contest.

Sola enters the bout following a slick submission victory over the previously undefeated Kuitty Begaj at Brave 49, adding another notch to his impressive submission victory belt.

This is undoubtedly a huge step up in competition for the Frenchman, taking on a competitor who has not been defeated since 2017. Bartnik grows into his fights, more than happy to grind out decision victories; something Sola is no stranger to, claiming several victories by way of decision during his time competing in IMMAF events.

Both Mokaev and Sola are monumental prospects in the world of professional MMA and will be keen to add another victory to their immaculate professional records.

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Mikhail Mazur appointed as IMMAF Chief Technology Officer Mon, 20 Sep 2021 13:16:09 +0000

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The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation is pleased to announce that Mikhail Mazur has been formally engaged as the organisation’s new Chief Technology Officer.

The appointment will see Mazur responsible for the management of Information Technology and Data to improve IMMAF’s offering to members and audiences and facilitate further growth, in alignment with IMMAF’s strategic plan. The assignment includes the improvement of IMMAF’s IT infrastructure, the integration of technology into day-to-day business and responsibility for IMMAF’s IT budget. Projects underway include: a new digital scoring system; the expansion of to include a database of athletes, events, videos and statistics; and the IMMAF LIVE project for a comprehensive live viewing experience of IMMAF Championships.

As a “hardcore” MMA fan with a bachelor’s degree in IT from the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and an MBA in Business Administration from the University of Groningen, Mazur worked as a consultant before joining the WMMAA (World Mixed Martial Arts Association) as Director of Communication and Information. Since the merger with IMMAF in 2019, Mikhail has been managing IMMAF’s data & analytics’ department on a part-time basis. Born in the Soviet Union, Mikhail grew up in the Netherlands and currently resides in Vietnam. Mikhail is fluent in six languages.

IMMAF’s new CTO, Mikhail Mazur, commented: 

“I’ve been working in the IT consultancy industry for over 10 years and have managed largescale and big-budget projects across several industries. In that time, I have never lost my connection with the MMA world. It’s always been my passion. Alongside my IT qualifications, I also obtained an MMA judges’ qualification under WMMAA, and have continued to work to develop my knowledge in both fields of interest, which I am excited that my new, enhanced role as CTO at IMMAF bridges.

“My goals are to make our National Federations’ lives easier; to create a smooth experience for our audience from watching live events to getting to know our athletes; and to introduce new technologies. I am grateful to the IMMAF board for this opportunity, and I want to make IMMAF the most professional organisation in amateur sport.”

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“The IMMAF board is proud to promote Mikhail to a full time and enhanced role as IMMAF’s Chief Technology Officer. Data and IT are fundamental to IMMAF’s activities and to our strategic plan and Mikhail’s appointment will serve to strengthen the development of amateur MMA.”

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IMMAF World Cup by the numbers Fri, 17 Sep 2021 07:57:56 +0000

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Over four days, we saw 143 bouts take place at the inaugural IMMAF World Cup with the run time totalling 20 hours and 15 minutes. The week was one to remember for several reasons. Be it the fact that we saw the first-ever All-Ireland team compete at an IMMAF Competition. Or even seeing Kosovo register their first-ever win and medal in their IMMAF debut as Arlind Berisha dominated the Heavyweight ranks. 

Stories like the above are the ones we admire and love to see at IMMAF competition but when you dig deeper into the numbers, they can paint a different picture and highlight some points that may have previously gone unnoticed. 

Day 1

The opening day saw the total number of bouts reduced from 36 to 33 after a pair of fighters missed weight and a failed medical examination. It was a day where the grappling prowess of competitors stole the show. Norway’s Fabian Ufs set the tone early in the day by scoring a kneebar submission 34 seconds into his fight, the fastest submission at Junior over the four days and one of only two kneebars. 

The sole d’arce choke of the competition came later that day when Germany’s Kevin Enz tapped Czech Republic’s Matej Sidunov in the first round of their Sr. Welterweight bout.

Ufs’ fight may have been quick but up stepped Manuchehr Rioev to create another highlight and set a tournament record. His 20 second TKO of Patrick Doran was the fastest fight of the competition. 

Day 2

Over a third of the bouts came on the second day of fights with 51 bouts taking place across the two cages. On a day where over half of the fights went to the judges’ scorecards, 12 TKO/KOs also occurred. Making up half of the competition’s TKO/KO finishes overall.

Amongst the 12 was the fastest Junior TKO/KO of the competition when Lithuania’s Mykolas Korsakovas forced the referee to call a halt to the fight at 2:28 of the opening round.

Bahrain’s Rasul Magomedov added to the impressive finishes of the day by making light work of his fight by getting his opponent out of there in 58 seconds. Making it the fastest fight of the day. 

Day 3

Semi-finals day produced some cracking fights along with one of the highlight reels of the competition. Ireland’s Kerry Ann Vernon was the only fighter to have a fight declared a KO victory as opposed to a TKO. After a vicious strike sent her opponent crashing to the mat and sending Vernon to the Final. 

Her 32-second finish stole the show and proved to be the fastest fight of the day. 

Day 4

Finals day ended up being the longest day of them all with a total run time of six hours and thirty minutes. This was to be expected as cages were reduced from two to one and medal ceremonies also had to take place. 

Adding to the run time was the number of distance bouts with 16 of the 24 bouts going all three rounds to keep the judges busy. Although the number of decisions was quite high, only one was a split decision. Indicating that the fight being between Eva Melo and Yrsa Sandin was the closest of the day. 

The fight before this saw the record for fastest senior submission being set by Cecilie Bolander. Her 35-second armbar being ever so close to the overall fastest submission. 

Overall the competition was a large success and can be watched on for those who missed it. A summary of the overall competition stats can be found here.

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MMA Ukraine join the party to welcome IOC President Thomas Bach to Kiev Thu, 16 Sep 2021 08:43:32 +0000

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IOC President Thomas Bach was in the Ukrainian capital Kiev at the weekend to celebrate 30 years of the country’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) with NOC President Sergey Bubka and to meet the nation’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, but amateur MMA was also invited to the party. 

After arriving in Prague as leader of Ukraine MMA Federation team that finished on top of the Senior World Cup medal table, Vice President Anton Blank then caught a plane back home to Kiev as one of the invited guests at a gala celebration held in the presence of 200 Ukrainian Olympians, among them 116 Olympic medallists.

“I believe that this was a clear sign of the respect being shown to our Federation, and MMA, in the country.” Blank told the IMMAF website. “Olympic legend Sergey Bubka, who is also President of our NOC, made it clear that he was fully aware of the great success of Ukraine at the recent IMMAF World Youth Championships and he is now following our progress extremely closely. It was certainly an honour to meet the IOC President Thomas Bach as part of the Ukrainian sport movement.”

MMA Ukraine, which recently gained recognition from its Sports Ministry to oversee the nation’s development within the sport, is certainly going from strength to strength.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “I commend Anton Blank and Ukraine MMA for working so hard to build close relationships with the sport authorities in their country. In all my meetings with National Federations I stress the importance of work done at national level, not only by IMMAF, in terms of lobbying and sport diplomacy. It is through good governance and great communication that we will one day show we have earned the right to be an Olympic sport.”

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Danni Neilan’s amazing journey from jockey to MMA pro fighter and amateur coach Thu, 16 Sep 2021 08:40:58 +0000

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By Jake Smith

In the space of six and a half years, Danni Neilan has gone from complete novice, to competing on one of the biggest mixed martial arts promotions in the world, Bellator. Her journey until this point has been meteoric.

Neilan’s entry into competitive sports was a far cry from the discipline in which she would end up excelling in. She first competed in horse racing and did so for many years. It was only at the age of 25, after a difficult 12 months, that she stepped away from horse racing and around that time Neilan discovered mixed martial arts for the first time. In the same week, she joined a local gym.
“I started training in MMA with no background in martial arts at all. From the first session I was absolutely hooked and pretty much wanted to compete straight away, I knew I wanted to be a fighter from that first day and it’s been all guns blazing since then.” said Neilan.

After a conversation with her coach, John Kavanagh, Neilan decided to enter the 2016 IMMAF European Championships and although she dropped out of the competition in the first round, the experience was the start of something special.

“The first IMMAF tournament I competed in, I lost my first fight. It was a rude awakening of what an actual fight was. I lost in the first round, I got submitted and it made me realise this is a proper fight, it’s not like being in the gym.

“That really set a fire under me after the first tournament. The next tournament I did was the World Championships, where I got silver and through that experience I got an awful lot of confidence in myself and my ability and it made me realise that if you believe in yourself, you’re tenacious and you really, really want it, that you can hang with the best amateurs in the world.”

Neilan believes that IMMAF not only helps athletes develop their skill set, but also improves their mental strength. She explained:

“The big thing for me was getting the amount of fights I got, fighting different styles from different countries and gaining confidence of knowing I could fight these girls from around the world and if I went for it, and I had  the skill set, that I could win and that gave me massive confidence to turn pro and know I could be a professional fighter, after I got the silver medal.

“The IMMAFs teach you how to be resilient, you get injured between fights, you need to maintain your weight, you have to eat breakfast across from your opponent; you need to be extremely resilient and mentally tough to go to an IMMAF tournament and not let any of those things bother you and just show up and keep fighting, regardless how tired you are. You have to be massively resilient to get through an IMMAF tournament, a pro fight is a walk in the park after that!”

The Bellator Strawweight joined the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association coaching team ahead of this year’s Youth World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Her role within the association involves squad sessions for the Youth athletes, sessions with the Junior and Senior female athletes, along with studying opponents and creating gameplans during competition days. Following an extremely successful championship for the Irish, Neilan set her sights on the World Cup. Reflecting fondly on her time at the Youth Championships, she expressed how currently competing herself, helps within the role.

“I loved it. I’m still fighting too so it’s a bit of a juggling act, sorting my own training and coaching but I absolutely loved it so after the cadets, I was asked if I would look after the female juniors and seniors and that’s how I ended up here at the World Cup; it’s my first time coaching juniors and seniors.

“It wasn’t that different for me going between athlete and coach. I feel like because I’m still fighting I have a lot of first hand experience. I know what the fighters are going through, I know what the level is at the moment and what techniques are working, what things to do to try and win the fight so it was a pretty easy transition for me to go from fighter to coach and I feel very comfortable in that role. I coach at home in my own gym, myself and my partner own a gym called Relentless MMA, so I have a lot of experience coaching in the gym.

“The best thing about being an IMMAF coach is coaching people from other gyms. I really enjoy that. Coaching your own is a lot easier and your motivation for your own gym to do well but I feel like it brings out the best in you if you are willing to help someone from another gym. Then it is not about your gym, you’re there to help anyone from Ireland; I love that we all come together as a country, it doesn’t matter what gym you’re from. That’s really important for me as a coach, that I give as much time to any athlete from Ireland, it doesn’t matter which gym they’re from.”

Heading into the Youth World Championships, the Irish team received an incredibly generous donation from ‘The Notorious’ Conor Mcgregor, who covered all the Irish youth squad’s expenses. Her teammate, Cian Cowley sponsored the all Ireland European squad, ensuring they all had Irish kits.

“It’s absolutely amazing with Conor supporting the cadets initially, I was absolutely blown away, it was a huge amount of money to send that cadet team to Bulgaria, I was just really proud to be associated with it and for him to do it out of his own pocket was amazing, it made me so happy.

“Cian is still fighting, a team mate of mine, for him to pay for the kits this year really shows what kind of person he is, that he did that, that he remembered what it was like to not have a kit. He never forgot what that felt like and he wanted to make sure the team had a kit this year.
It means so much, it makes me feel warm inside just thinking about it. They are the salt of the Earth kind of people to have done that,” she said.

Following the world cup, Danni’s focus will switch back to her fighting career as she prepares herself for her upcoming Bellator bout against Audrey Kerouche at the 3 Arena Dublin on November the 5th.

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Ukraine continues hot streak as all-Ireland team also impresses in Prague Sat, 11 Sep 2021 17:29:02 +0000

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IMMAF World Cup Prague, Finals Roundup

By Jorden Curran


The junior World Cup championships concluded in Prague with Ukraine leading the gold count for the under-21’s competition. Ukraine earned 4 gold medals with Maryna Demchuk (women’s bantamweight), Dmytro Makarov (men’s strawweight) and Andrii Pashniuk (welterweight) earning unanimous decision triumphs while junior middleweight Andrii Dunaiev defeated his countryman via TKO. Ukraine’s medal tally was further bolstered by 5 silver medals and with 3 of the day’s junior finals being Ukraine vs Ukraine faceoffs.

The All-Ireland team produced some of the most exciting performances of the inaugural IMMAF World Cup and the junior team followed through on finals day with two champions crowned. Ryan Keogh had finished every bout of his junior featherweight campaign via stoppage and didn’t let up as he powered through to submit Norway’s Iskhan Ayupov with an arm-bar in the third round. It was an all Irish affair in the women’s junior flyweight final, and Kiya O’Sullivan continued to blaze a trail as the first IMMAF Youth Worlds medal winner to transition and win gold at the junior level, she bested Megan Hamill by way of a unanimous decision.       

Tajikistan’s young talents continue to surge throughout 2021; junior men’s flyweight Muhammad Salohidinov bagged gold with a unanimous decision against Ukraine’s Kyrylo Soloviov and bantamweight prodigy Otabek Rajabov further proved himself to be the real deal and one to watch as he earned a solid decision win over Bahrain’s medal favourite Murad Ibragimov. Rajabov now adds the World Cup title to his IMMAF European Open gold medal secured in August.

Bahrain evened the score with Tajikistan shortly after, in the junior men’s lightweight final where Gimbat Magomedov, who made his IMMAF platform debut this week, completed a unanimous decision win over junior European Open winner Murad Ibragimov.

In addition, Kosovo’s Cinderella story did not fall short of a happy and triumphant ending. The nation’s historic debut on the IMMAF platform was carried on the shoulders of athletic junior heavyweight Arlind Berisha, who sensationally battled to the final where he faced Oleksandr Horodniuk. Berisha offset the Ukrainian with a high kick, just catching his rival’s face enough to force a rushed takedown that was stuffed and countered by the Kosovo hopeful with a standing power guillotine, elevating his opponent off the ground, forcing the submission and claiming a first ever international IMMAF title for Kosovo.   


Sweden were shining brightly in the senior women’s finals, taking gold in each of their 3 title deciders and sending their country to the top of an IMMAF medal table for the first time since 2018. At strawweight, the all-Swedish affair of top contender Nina Back versus exciting newcomer Josephine Modig was an emotional collision of teammates. Modig completed her meteoric debut on the IMMAF platform with a unanimous decision win to take gold, she emotionally embraced her teammate in the following moments with Back having now picked up a fifth IMMAF silver medal and is set to turn pro. 

In addition, Sweden’s 2019 European Open lightweight champ, Yrsa Sandin, returned to the IMMAF platform to take World Cup gold in a closely contested split decision against the Czech Republic’s Eva Melo, but Sweden’s greatest World Cup moment was surely that of Millie Eriksson at flyweight, a division that Sweden has often ruled over. Eriksson’s record to date must be taken with consideration of the stacked division she competes within, and she has constantly found herself drawn against top medal winning talents both internationally and on the busy Swedish domestic scene. As a junior stepping up to the senior ranks, the IMMAF World Cup was Millie’s moment to prove to herself and all others that she can go all the way. Eriksson won her place in the championship final and in the gold medal decider she forced a standing guillotine submission over Germany’s Renana Bruckstein, who impressed in 2019 by taking silver at the European Open.    

The compelling Spanish national team continued to grow and impress on the IMMAF stage. The regularly impressive Antoni Josep Marti Segarra earned silver in the men’s lightweight final, coming up short on the scorecards, as did men’s flyweight Rafael Calderon Coria. Spain’s World Cup breakout star has no doubt been stocky featherweight machine Juan Izquierdo, as the former IMMAF World Championships quarter-finals and two-time Spanish national champion displayed the Spain team’s trademark wrestling talents along with precision inside striking to come away with a unanimous decision against rangy Italian Raphael Federico.    

For Ireland’s seniors their exhilarating World Cup journey concluded with 1 gold opposite 2 silver medals from the finals. 2019 IMMAF World silver medallist and former WAKO kickboxing champ Shauna Bannon once against showed off her unique style and wonderful kick dexterity and composure in a decision victory over fellow Irish standout Kerry Ann Vernon, but Eoin Sheridan was forced to settle for Silver at the hands of Jordan’s sensational young newcomer, Hazem Kayyali, who’s charisma and BJJ talents have dazzled spectators throughout the tournament and culminated with a Guillotine choke submission in the World Cup final.    

The returning Norway team went 1-1 in the World Cup finals, first with featherweight Cecilie Bolander showcasing a powerful hip-toss off, swiftly transitioning for a textbook armbar to upset host nation favourite Katerina Lisova in just 35 seconds, however Norway’s heavyweight hope Per Kjetil Haglund Tonnessen himself fell to a first round kimura submission at the hands of Bahrain’s Rasul Magomedov. The Kingdom of Bahrain enjoyed an undefeated senior finals with Rasul Magomedov, light-heavyweight Magomedzagid Magomedov and flyweight Mansur Magomedov each securing their World Cup titles.  

Italy also went 1-1 in consecutive finals; featherweight Fidel Gramiccia crossed the finish line with a unanimous decision win over Ireland’s Taylor Quinn, followed by lightweight contender Raphael Federico earning silver against the Spaniard, Izquierdo.

Finally, Tajikistan maintained their 2021 streak of seeing champions crowned in each and every IMMAF championships of the year thus far, and in the senior World Cup welterweight final it was Jovidon Mahmudov taking the unanimous decision nod and gold medal over silver medallist Kevin Enz of Germany.

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MMA World Cup Prague: Medallists & Finals Results Sat, 11 Sep 2021 17:19:41 +0000

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The IMMAF Senior & Junior World Cup Prague concluded today at the UNYP Arena with the tournament finals and medals ceremonies. See below for the list of medallists and finals results.

Hosted and organised by the Czech Association of MMA (CSMMA), the event marks the first in IMMAF’s MMA World Cup Series. Notably in 2021, the MMA World Cup has provided a European platform for nations that were unable to travel to Russia for the IMMAF Euros during the pandemic. The tournament significantly provides the final chance this year for athletes to earn ranking points for the World Championships.

The Championships matches will shortly be available on-demand at IMMAF.TV 


F: Jr Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs)

Gold: Kiya O’Sullivan (Ireland)

Silver: Megan Hamill (Ireland)

Bronze: Iva Koubikova (Czech Republic)

F: Jr Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs)

Gold: Maryna Demchuk (Ukraine)

Silver: Sarah Carney (Ireland)

Bronze: Sineadh Ni Nuallain (Ireland)

Bronze: Lijana Lipinskaite (Lithuania)

M: Jr Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs)

Gold: Muhammad Salohidinov (Tajikistan)

Silver: Kyrylo Soloviov (Ukraine)

Bronze: Hakim Abdulloev (Tajikistan)

Bronze: Lukas Kaplan (Czech Republic)

M: Jr Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs)

Gold: Otabek Rajabov (Tajikistan)

Silver: Murad Ibragimov (Bahrain)

Bronze: Mikael Aclipen (Iceland)

Bronze: Denys Niemchynov (Ukraine)

M: Jr Featherweight 65.8 kg (145 lbs)

Gold: Ryan Keogh (Ireland)

Silver: Iskhan Ayupov (Norway)

Bronze: Erik Kutil (Czech Republic)

Bronze: Jindrich Ungr (Czech Republic)

M: Jr Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs)

Gold: Gimbat Magomedov (Bahrain)

Silver: Behruz Khurshedzoda (Tajikistan)

Bronze: Oleksandr Huliaiev (Ukraine)

Bronze: Mykolas Korsakovas (Lithuania)

M: Jr Welterweight 77.1 kg (170 lbs)

Gold: Andrii Pashniuk (Ukraine)

Silver: Denys Kuteliia (Ukraine)

Bronze: Miguel Navarro De Brito (Spain)

Bronze: Sebastian Leo Hampala (Czech Republic)

M: Jr Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs)

Gold: Andrii Dunaiev (Ukraine)

Silver: Ali Askierov (Ukraine)

Bronze: Dara Ward (Ireland)

M: Jr Heavyweight 120.2 kg (265 lbs)

Gold: Arlind Berisha (Kosovo)

Silver: Oleksandr Horodniuk (Ukraine

Bronze: Yaroslav Strilets (Ukraine)

F: Strawweight 52.2 kg (115 lbs)

Gold: Josefine Modig (Sweden)

Silver: Nina Back (Sweden)

Bronze: Anna Gaul (Germany)

Bronze: Caitlyn Hadfield (Ireland)

F: Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs)

Gold: Millie Eriksson (Sweden)

Silver: Renana Bruckstein

Bronze: Tetiana Mokhova (Ukraine)

Bronze: Phyllis-Yasemin Leineweber (Germany)

F: Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs)

Gold: Shauna Bannon (Ireland)

Silver: Kerry Ann Vernon (Ireland)

Bronze: Maria Kaald Andresen (Norway)

Bronze: Jessica Andersson (Sweden)

F: Featherweight 65.8 kg (145 lbs)

Gold: Cecilie Bolander (Norway)

Silver: Katerina Lisova (Czech Republic)

Bronze: Marianna Skuba (Ukraine)

Bronze: Christina Papasotiriou (Greece)

F: Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs)

Gold: Yrsa Sandin (Sweden)

Silver: Eva Melo (Czech Republic)

M: Strawweight 52.2 kg (115 lbs)

Gold: Eduard Kostrytsia (Ukraine)

Silver: Samir Bairamov (Ukraine)

M: Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs)

Gold: Mansur Magomedov (Bahrain)

Silver: Rafael Calderon Coria (Spain)

Bronze: Ruslan Telibaiev (Ukraine)

Bronze: Abubakr Baimuradov (Tajikistan)

M: Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs)

Gold: Fidel Gramiccia ( Italy)

Silver: Taylor Quinn (Ireland)

Bronze: Abdulla Mubarak (Bahrain)

Bronze: Oskar Jaskari (Sweden)

M: Featherweight 65.8 kg (145 lbs)

Gold: Juan Izquierdo (Spain)

Silver: Raphael Federico ( Italy)

Bronze: Daniyal Shamkhalov (Sweden)

Bronze: Bakhtiyor Husainov (Tajikistan)

M: Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs)

Gold: Ivan Kurelaru (Ukraine)

Silver: Antoni Josep Marti Segarra (Spain)

Bronze: Ikromjon Ahmedov (Tajikistan)

Bronze: Solomon Simon (Ireland)

M: Welterweight 77.1 kg (170 lbs)

Gold: Jovidon Mahmudov (Tajikistan)

Silver: Kevin Enz (Germany)

Bronze: John Oldenqvist (Sweden)

Bronze: Roman Pylypchuk (Ukraine)

M: Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs)

Gold: Hazem Kayyali (Jordan)

Silver: Eoin Sheridan (Ireland)

Bronze: Raigo Kutsar (Estonia)

Bronze: Ergo Reinvald (Estonia)

M: Light Heavyweight 93 kg (205 lbs)

Gold: Magomedzagid Magomedov (Bahrain)

Silver: Mykola Kovalenko (Ukraine)

Bronze: Dmytro Babynskyi (Ukraine)

Bronze: Patrick Drescher (Germany)

M: Heavyweight 120.2 kg (265 lbs)

Gold: Rasul Magomedov (Bahrain)

Silver: Per Kjetil Haglund Tonnessen (Norway)

Bronze: Miha Frlic (Slovenia)

Bronze: Jonnie Andersson (Sweden)



Bout 1: Female F: Jr Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs) Kiya O’Sullivan (Ireland) d e f Megan Hamill (Ireland) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Bout 2: Female F: Jr Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs) Maryna Demchuk (Ukraine) d e f Sarah Carney (Ireland) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Bout 3: Male M: Jr Strawweight 52.2 kg (115 lbs) Dmytro Makarov (Ukraine) d e f Maksym Afanasiev (Ukraine) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Bout 4: Male M: Jr Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs) Muhammad Salohidinov (Tajikistan) d e f Kyrylo Soloviov (Ukraine) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Bout 5: Male M: Jr Bantamweight 61.2 kg (135 lbs) Otabek Rajabov (Tajikistan) d e f Murad Ibragimov (Bahrain) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Bout 6: Male M: Jr Featherweight 65.8 kg (145 lbs) Ryan Keogh (Ireland) d e f Iskhan Ayupov (Norway) via Submission (Armbar)  Round 3, 0:46

Bout 7: Male M: Jr Lightweight 70.3 kg (155 lbs) Gimbat Magomedov (Bahrain) d e f Behruz Khurshedzoda (Tajikistan) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (30-27, 30-26, 30-27)

Bout 8: Male M: Jr Welterweight 77.1 kg (170 lbs) Andrii Pashniuk (Ukraine) d e f Denys Kuteliia (Ukraine) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Bout 9: Male M: Jr Middleweight 83.9 kg (185 lbs) Andrii Dunaiev (Ukraine) d e f Ali Askierov (Ukraine) via TKO Round 3, 1:01

Bout 10: Male M: Jr Heavyweight 120.2 kg (265 lbs) Arlind Berisha (Kosovo) d e f Oleksandr Horodniuk (Ukraine) via Submission (Guillotine Choke)  Round 1, 0:39

Bout 11: Female F: Strawweight 52.2 kg (115 lbs) Josefine Modig (Sweden) d e f Nina Back (Sweden) via Unanimous Decision Round 3, 3:00 (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Bout 12: Female F: Flyweight 56.7 kg (125 lbs) Millie Eriksson (Sweden) d e f Renana Bruckste