By Jorden Curran
IMMAF Member Development Consultant
The Pakistan MMA Association (PakMMA) has reported good progress towards standardising amateur MMA rules among event promoters at the national level.
The Pakistan national amateur team made a splash at the 2021 IMMAF World Championships after welcoming a change in leadership, with Omar Ahmed becoming the association’s new President. 25-year-old senior bantamweight competitor, Ismail Khan, made history for Pakistan MMA upon registering the first victory in any IMMAF competition for his country. The achievements did not stop there as Khan claimed a further two wins and an IMMAF world bronze medal after eventually facing defeat in the semi-finals against the gold medal winner, Shakhban Gapizov.
Unfortunately, due to the under-developed state of MMA governance in Pakistan, Khan’s participation attracted criticism due to the athlete’s domestic amateur record, including a number of bouts which, despite being officially billed and recorded as amateur contests, were contested under rules that strayed too close to that of professional standards and tested the limits of what is acceptable under IMMAF eligibility.
Subsequently, Khan turned professional following the World Championships, and PakMMA acknowledged the need for a more unified level of competition among domestic event organisers. Since then, PakMMA has held regular meetings with promoters, covering IMMAF’s Unified Amateur Rules in addition to sanctioning amateur bouts under said rules as a national governing body.
“Regulating MMA in Pakistan has been quite a challenge for us given the limited resources available in helping the sport grow. Our biggest asset in achieving a steady regulation in the sport has been the community we operate in; everyone in PakMMA shares a vision of seeing our fighters reaching the apex of fighting, and so bringing more and more clubs towards a standardised platform has been easy for that reason,” PakMMA President, Omar Ahmed explained.
He adds, “Especially with regards to fighter safety at amateur level. Everyone is now on the same page about prioritising the longevity of fighters’ careers over anything else. PakMMA has mandated for clubs and event promoters to follow the unified [IMMAF] rules in order for their fighters to be considered for future IMMAF events.
“Pakistan’s impact at the IMMAF World Championships, with our country securing its first ever medal, has been a massive boost in helping spread the word about why it is necessary to regulate the sport. We hope to take Pakistani MMA to a standard where we can be considered one of the success stories for global MMA. Despite limited resources, we hope Pakistan can lead the charge in developing MMA countries who are out there standardising the sport.”
With a high number of promoters already welcomed into the fold, the steady work continues to fully unite Pakistani MMA nationwide.