The 2021 World Championships was an amazing event. Especially when you consider that they were negotiated in twelve weeks and then executed in eight weeks after the withdrawal of Kazakhstan because of the Pandemic. Putting on that kind of event at that level is reaching a gold standard.
Everybody was fully engaged and overstretched in all departments because of the Covid protocols that were in place. That had an impact, especially when you are testing people every 48 hours while omicron was peaking in the UAE.
The backdrop to that created a lot of moving targets because issues and challenges were popping up on a day to day basis and on a need to know basis as well. Once you factored that in and were on the ground, various IMMAF departments, some of whom have only recently been set up, faced a massive task in terms of logistics. There was major pressure on IMMAF to run the whole show with whatever assistance the host federation could provide within tight financial constraints as well. We had elements in the background that were not in our control. The bottom line was that the event went on with what we could control. We always strive to provide a professional setting to put on a quality event.
Each department excelled in each area to provide that smooth conveyor belt for athletes to perform at an amateur gold star event. We want them to appreciate that they are on the best platform in amateur MMA.
Working with a New Federation
For the stakeholders in UAE, it was their first IMMAF event and so they were unaware of the level of detail that we put in. Our host is also a new federation and they did their best to hit the ground running, with the additional pressure of the Omnicron surge to deal with as well. It’s not an easy process to get right the first time because it’s not like you can just put a couple of mats on the floor.
Most Arenas are not built to hold four cages either, so there was a lot of in-depth planning because the logistics are not the norm to run that type of event where you have got nearly 400 bouts in 6 days. They certainly appreciated that this is a world-class event at a world-class level and may have underestimated what IMMAF is capable of doing. But at the end of the day, we worked together as partners and provided an amazing event globally for everybody to see and appreciate.
It gives them a lot more time to learn the different processes we have in place. The Youths are also quite different since there are no headshots so the issue of injuries is reduced at a youth event. So against that, it makes it slightly easier, so it will give them more time in working with our processes to build on that. We have a three-year deal that will add more value from year to year and allow them to shine as a long term “anchor host”t.
Looking back on the event many things stand out. The level of the athletes has gone up again for starters. It was good to see more women fighters involved. For example, the RMMAU women’s team dominated and went undefeated in the junior category. There were a lot of positives throughout – the level of media attention that we got, the celebrities that turned up to support us, like the legendary footballer Clarence Seedorf, and the involvement of the major stakeholders in Abu Dhabi were all key. The host federation and Palm Sports were everything you would want in good stakeholders and partners.
There was so much going on inside and outside the arena that it’s hard to pinpoint one thing, in particular, that did stand out apart from the fact that everyone did an amazing job to contribute to a successful World Championships.