Altas vs. Bond, IMMAF World Champion meets fellow European gold medalist in pro bout

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

As amateur standouts, Serdar Altas and Jake Bond both claimed IMMAF’s European title in the men’s flyweight division, yet the former gold medal winners, who earned the crown in respective years of one another, never faced off on the international platform.

In a compelling bout that’s four years in the making, the duo are now set to meet as professional contenders in Västerås, Sweden, on the card of FCR 3 on August 18.

On just one occasion Altas and Bond both featured in the same bracket of an IMMAF championships, in Birmingham, the UK, at the inaugural IMMAF European Open in 2015, but their paths were not destined to cross.

For his sole stint with the UK national team, Bond represented the country on home soil while Sweden’s Altas entered as the odds on tournament favourite, having earned a silver medal earlier that year at the IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas.

However, in the event’s biggest upset, Altas was eliminated in the opening round of bouts by Bahrain’s Hussain Maki, a loss he avenged last year in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Championships.

At the 2015 Euros, it was Bond who showcased an unrelenting ground game as he went on to win the men’s flyweight gold medal, submitting Maki in the semi-finals with a rear-naked-choke before meeting Warren Mason in an all-UK final, ending the contest by securing an arm-bar in the first round.

Following the achievement, Bond called time on his amateur run and successfully made his professional debut in August of 2016. The 27-year-old Manchester man is currently 1-1 as a pro.

In contrast, Altas remained amateur for a further two years, accumulating a streak of 9 victories that saw him bounce back to claim the European title in 2016 before reaching the amateur pinnacle with gold in Bahrain at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships.

At age 23, Altas has now retired from the Swedish national team and made his own professional debut last May with KO victory via a high kick, under the banner of prominent Swedish promotion, Superior Challenge.

For more video content from IMMAF championship events visit IMMAF.tv.

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National federations unite to secure the future of MMA in Belgium

Pictured: Issa Isakov secured a silver medal for Belgium in the Senior Men’s Welterweight division at the 2018 IMMAF European Championships

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

This week, the Belgian MMA Federation (BMMAF) has announced itself as the latest IMMAF affiliate to unite with its national counterpart, following the historic announcement of IMMAF and fellow international body WMMAA, reaching an amalgamation agreement.

Following encouragement from IMMAF and WMMAA heads, the motivation to unite has filtered down to national federations, in countries where development of the sport is split between rival bodies affiliated to IMMAF and WMMAA, respectively. The BMMAF and WMMAA member BKBMO, which primarily functions as a kickboxing regulator, are the latest to confirm a unified national effort.

Ready for official launch in September, the partnership will see MMA regulation effectively spread across a greater national reach, and will fulfill further criteria for future government recognition and potential funding.

BMMAF President Ludovic Boulvin described the agreement as ‘a great pleasure’ of which ensures a promising future for Mixed Martial Arts in Belgium.

Belgium has played a valuable role in the European MMA community. As a close neighbor to France where MMA competition is currently banned by government, the nation has been a haven in welcoming dedicated French athletes to compete and develop on Belgian soil.

See BMMAF’s statement below for details regarding the national amalgamation agreement in Belgium:

After more than 10 years of rivalry in the management of MMA in Belgium, the two federations (BMMAF and BKBM²O) finally join forces to guarantee a promising future for Belgian MMA. Respective presidents of the federations (Ludo Boulvin for BMMAF, Patrick Van Acker for VBKBM²O and Gino Buonopane for LKBKM²O) met early in June to agree on the basis of this merger and a meeting to define the structure and the first objectives has already taken place to ensure an effective start in September.

Representative of the only international federation of MMA (IMMAF), BMMAF has been developing MMA in Belgium for more than 10 years. Many MMA events and activities have been organized during these years, but its presence is mainly limited to the region of Wallonia.

Although being mainly a Muay Thai federation, BKBMO also has an MMA section, which, conversely to BMMAF, is mainly developed in Flanders. The union of the two federations was therefore logical and will bring many benefits to both practitioners and federations.

In practice :

•       The BMMAF will remain an independent non-profit organization (representing the IMMAF in Belgium), will integrate the BKBMO and manage their MMA activities (amateur and pro).
•       Representatives of the BKBMO (Flemish and French) will be integrated into the BMMAF board of directors and vice versa, BMMAF representatives will sit on the boards of the BKBMO regional sections.
•       The BKBMO will take over the management of affiliations, this will bring together affiliates and better represent the interests of practitioners.
•       A single license will allow practitioners to take part in MMA activities but also to K1, Muaythai and Kickboxin activities.
•       A standardization of amateur rules MMA (according to the international model of IMMAF) and the creation of class with different levels of experience.

This union will bring many benefits, but will also develop a more structured model. Many announcements will be published soon with more details but you can already take our following activities:

08/09/2018: Fight Against Cancer – Landen (5 Amateur MMA Fights)
09/23/2018: MMA Unified amateur rules seminar – Brussels
27-28/10/2018: MMA amateur cup – Mons Expo (Tournament over 2 days)

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IMMAF LAUNCHES IMMAF.TV IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SPORTRADAR

[11 July 2018. London] The International Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAF) has partnered with Sportradar for the launch of its new OTT platform, immaf.tv, for the showcasing of elite, amateur MMA (mixed martial arts) at its best.

immaf.tv formally launched with the live stream of the 2018 IMMAF Senior European Championships and 2018 Junior European Open Championships, which took place concurrently in Bucharest from 3 to 8 September. All matches videos are now available to view on-demand.

The platform is set to house all international live streams and on-demand matches from IMMAF Championships moving forward, as well as IMMAF’s long-awaited historic matches library from 2014 to 2018. Historic matches videos will be free to view

immaf.tv additionally showcases free exclusive IMMAF video features: “IMMAF Explained” outlines the organisation’s vision and work towards Olympic recognition for amateur MMA. In “IMMAF in Context”, world renowned referee Marc Goddard talks through the safety and technical elements of the ‘cage’ and groundwork – two controversial and defining elements of the sport.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

 “The launch of IMMAF.TV is another fantastic milestone for IMMAF, allowing us to connect in real time with MMA fans worldwide. Finally, we can show the world that our elite, amateur MMA tournaments are worthy of the Olympic programme. MMA fans will be impressed at the skill level of the new generation of athletes coming up through IMMAF, set to be the stars of tomorrow.”

Rainer Geier, Managing Director OTT & Digital Services from Sportradar said:

“We have recognized MMA as a fantastic sport with a growing audience especially in the younger generation. IMMAF has already done a great job in creating the content around the European Championships and we look forward to the upcoming events and matches. Our Sportradar OTT approach is ready to serve all likes of content, whether it is live-streamed or on-demand and we are pleased to welcome IMMAF as part of our Sportradar OTT family.”

 

IMMAF.TV PACKAGES

Championship PASS: 

– Watch the live stream in HD quality from ALL DAYS of a specific tournament.
– Access all matches videos from a specific tournament on-demand.

Special Offer:
€ 4.99
 (reduced from € 9.99 for limited period)

2018 Season Subscription:

Watch every live stream and video on-demand in HD quality brought to you by IMMAF in 2018 Season:

– 2018 European Senior Championships & European Junior Championships
– 2018 Asian Open Championships & Junior World Championships
– 2018 World Championships
– Annual subscription valid from the date of purchase until the end of the 2018 year

Special Offer:
€ 12.99
 (reduced from € 34.99 for limited period)

Historic matches and special features videos are free-to-view.

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IMMAF Events Director praises example set by women as MMA officials

Pictured above: South Africa’s Chyrene Strauss officiates at FightStar Championships, the nation’s prominent developmental platform. 

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

For IMMAF Events Director, Alistair Pettitt, the increased involvement from women at this year’s IMMAF Africa Open Championships was a distinguishable contribution to the event’s success.

IMMAF, in conjunction with official national governing body, MMA South Africa (MMASA), hosted its third and largest Africa Open Championships to date, from 24-26 May in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Alistair Pettitt, who had traveled to oversee the event’s development, praised the MMASA officials on a flawless performance. In particular, the women, who joined IMMAF for the first time, yet stood out in their execution of high standards and thus served as the personification of IMMAF’s worldwide gender equality goals.

MMASA officialsThe team (pictured) included:
Chyrene Strauss – Referee and Judge
Kayla De Jager – Judge
Desire Le Roux – Time Keeper
Judete Coxen – Outside Corner Official

On the surface, professional women’s MMA has experienced a boom period at the top flight level, thanks in part to former UFC champion and recent Hall of Fame inductee, Ronda Rousey, who blazed a path for women’s divisions to feature in the UFC where women now compete as some of the most high profile athletes in MMA.

Despite this, women traditionally remain as a minority in the wider global sport, not just in participation, but noticeably as officials also.

The IMMAF Event Director stated: “At this year’s Africa Open Championships, we had three women as certified MMA officials and one volunteer time keeper. Chyrene, Desire, Kayla and Judete served as a brilliant example of the officiating standards and functional gender equality under MMASA, and this did not go unnoticed. Not only did these women fulfill their roles to the most professional level that I have seen since we have been in Africa, I am also confident in saying that each of them would be a perfect fit in any international IMMAF event team.”

Also with experience in running her own MMA gym, certified official Chyrene Strauss first gained national qualification in 2013, as a referee and judge with MMASA – South Africa’s government body for MMA regulation. When MMASA later became affiliated under the IMMAF, she sought further education and certification to the standard of the international body.

MMASA Vice-President and IMMAF Board member, Raymond Phillips, explained MMASA’s commitment to a gender equality initiative, and highlighted the enthusiasm shown in adhering to the ‘Women in Sport’ program, in collaboration with the South Africa Olympic Council: 

“In MMASA we have had women engaging in the sport since the inception of MMA in South Africa. Due to our national politics, we wanted to get gender equality into our sport from the start. In our kickboxing federation, this was dealt with many years ago and MMASA sought to mirror this progression. MMASA wanted to make sure that women get the same treatment as their male counterparts in all aspects, from athletes to officials.”

He continued, “I have noticed that women in many cases feel they have to prove and push themselves harder to be recognised in sports, so we at MMASA encourage women to be part of this exiting, fast growing sport. We have not been disappointed and we are very happy with the progress. Under the supervision of our Olympic body, SASCOC, we have established a ‘Women in Sport’ recognition program and I believe that we will be producing more and more female officials. The women, of who I have been privileged to work with, really show great interest and potential.”

IMMAF continues to support gender equality on a global scale. Inspiring developments continue with each passing year and have included increased opportunities for women as competing athletes, plus the growing number of licensed officials and a phenomenal response to cutman Joe Clifford’s education and licencing program for Seconds.

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The chase is on for IMMAF pound-for-pound pinnacle

Pictured: Irman Smajic (upper), Anna Astvik (lower left), Murtaza Talha Ali (lower right)

By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran

Having passed the midway point of 2018, the chase to be IMMAF’s pound-for-pound top athlete has opened up, following the conclusion of last month’s European Championships.

For the past twelve months, IMMAF Heavyweight champion and Sweden’s most decorated amateur standout, Irman Smajic, has reigned as the pound-for-pound number-one since earning gold at the 2017 Asian Open Championships in Singapore. However, Smajic’s absence from the 2018 Euros has allowed the chasing contenders to close in on his lead.

The top three positions of the pound-for-pound rankings are currently occupied by reigning IMMAF world champions, with Sweden’s Anna Astvik and Bahrain’s Murtaza Talha Ali, leaders of their respective divisions, having closed in on Smajic due to their gold medal triumphs at the European Open in Bucharest, Romania.

Pound-for-pound rankings: IMMAF's current top 10.

Pound-for-pound rankings: IMMAF’s current top 10.

27-year-old Astvik holds the number-two position behind her national team mate, having now won a second IMMAF grand slam in the Women’s Senior Strawweight division, adding to her IMMAF world title achieved last November in Bahrain.

Likewise, Men’s Light-Heavyweight world champion, Murtaza Talha Ali, dominated his way to the 2017 world title on home soil. In Bucharest, the 21-year-old showed perseverance, edging a split-decision over Sweden’s Robin Larsson in the quarter-finals before besting Ireland’s Cathal Manning with a Unanimous Decision nod in the semis. The reigning 205lb king saved his best for last to shut out Sweden’s defending European champion, Anton Turkalj, to take home the gold medal.

With future results pending, the trailing pair are within touching distance of the pound-for-pound pinnacle. The soonest opportunity to take over comes at the 2018 Asian Open championships, taking place in Beijing, China, from 2-8 September. At each Continental Championships, an excess of 500 ranking points can be earned by each eventual gold medalist, with even higher totals on offer at the World Championships.

Breakdown: Rankings points awarded to athletes at IMMAF championships

Breakdown: Rankings points awarded to athletes at IMMAF championships

35-year-old Smajic, however, has vowed to continue his record setting amateur tenure in 2018 when he returns to action. The heavyweight great is currently 14-3 on the IMMAF platform, and undefeated since 2016, enjoying a win streak that has seen claim a second world title in 2017 alongside European and Asian Open titles in the same year.

The race to be IMMAF’s top athlete does not end there. Hot on the heels of the leading trio are the likes of Bahrain’s Abdulmanap Magomedov (formerly of Russia) in fourth place, plus Australia’s Joseph Luciano with an outside chance of finishing 2018 on top. Current no.5, Serdar Altas, brought a close to his amateur career and turned pro following his gold medal triumph at the 2017 World Championships, but will retain his ranking points until the 12-month lifespan ends and his total begins to decrease.

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