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!