By Jake Smith
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown has hailed his visit to Russia ‘remarkable’, ahead of the nation hosting the 2021 European Championships.
During his visit, the IMMAF President visited Kemerovo to attend the Russian MMA Championships; the selection process for the 2021 IMMAF season. He met RMMAU President, Radmir Gabdullin and MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko amongst many other delegates. The professionalism and level of competition on display shone throughout the process. President Brown said:
“(I was extremely impressed with) the professionalism in terms of the production that they put on and the qualification process. Starting with over 7,000 athletes culminating to the end as part of the selection process from 68 different regions, then to a final selection process of the national events to select teams for the IMMAF World and European championships and Czech Open.
“For me, the level of competition has been amazing in the sense that they are raising the bar, some of our ex-world champions were finding it hard to get through various qualification stages!”
Russia have reigned dominant in several IMMAF competitions, after witnessing their selection process first hand, Mr. Brown believes nations could look at the Russian set up in order to help develop their federations, he said:
“You need to build the structure. They have representatives in each region and the coaching is significant. They have got a good structure from their networking and going through the national system with their head coach, being able to really create a network and push the technical aspects of the athletes as they qualify and train. You can see the levels, hence why Russia is going to be very dominant in the various competitions.
“A lot of the nations should look at their structure and potentially replicate it, try and get up to a certain level to start making it competitive across the board.
“They are going to raise the bar. The President of the Russian Union has done a fantastic job of raising the profile on a national level, and everyone involved at every level is actively pushing it. This will play out with them hosting the European Championships and making it a high level competition of which our federations can look forward to Russia staging it.
“For what they have contributed and what they are doing, they have set a high bench mark as a gold standard for a European championship, especially in MMA.
“Being able to see them getting the support from everyone thats involved from the ground up is fantastic and it shows their commitment to the development of the sport and as we know, the sport is fairly new in its discipline and our job with the national federation is to get that recognition process in order to secure MMA as a truly global sport.”
With still a few days to go, President Brown reflected on his busy Russian visit, so far.
“It’s been remarkable. In terms of the community support and its cultural values, everything you hear about Russia, you have to see it for yourself to be able to understand the bond that they have in being able to give support at every level.
The stature in which Mixed Martial Arts is held within Russia, alongside other combat sports, has immensely impressed Mr. Brown.
“Everybody is fully behind the sport of MMA and they truly want to represent it at the highest level. For me, it’s been great to see and have the opportunity to be invited to various meetings and really see the potential of how much they are highly regarded within the combat community.
“Look at Wrestling, judo, boxing, all the other core sports they’ve had for so many years of developing their sports to the highest level and with mixed martial arts, we’re a new sport but they are putting themselves amongst the core sports to show that we can equally sit in that space and show that we are just as good within a short space of time.
“It’s been fast and furious in the sense of all the meetings conducted, going and seeing the venues, weighing up all the different parts that will pull the Europeans together but I have to say I am very impressed with all the support they are getting.”
The IMMAF European Championships are set to take place in Kazan, Russia between August 15-20th 2021.