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 amateur sport in 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 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 MMA’s participants 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 our volunteers for their generous support.”