Two international governing bodies for mixed martial arts, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) were independently established in 2012 with the vision of developing the sport globally and obtaining Olympic recognition.
The IMMAF was founded in Sweden by former athletes and Presidents of the Swedish MMA Federation, August Wallén and George Sallfeldt, with support from the UFC®.
WMMAA was founded in Monaco by Vadim Finkelchtein, founder of the Russian MMA Union, and founder and President of MMA promotion, M1-Global.
WMMAA held its first championship event in May 2012, the WMMAA Ukrainian MMA Championship in Kiev, and its first WMMAA World MMA Cup in December 2013 in Azerbaijan. IMMAF held its inaugural IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA in Las Vegas in 2014, as part of UFC International Fight Week.
With both organisations canvassing the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GASIF) for formal sport recognition (to put them in the running for Olympic recognition), they were advised by GAISF in June 2017 that they should cooperate, since only one applicant could be considered per sport.
In May 2018, rival bodies IMMAF and WMMAA signed a legally binding, affiliation MOU, approved by the national memberships of each organisation.
By the close of November 2018, IMMAF and WMMAA had completed a fully executed agreement, as well as a first IMMAF – WMMAA Unified World Championships with 52 participating countries that would create a new world order in the rankings of amateur MMA.
In November 2019, following necessary, democratically approved changes to the IMMAF statutes, IMMAF’s 2019 General Assembly saw the IMMAF board expand to accept elected representatives from WMMAA, with WMMAA President Vadim Finkelchtein joining IMMAF founder August Wallen as Honorary President.
Not only did the merger require that of two international boards and administration teams, but it was also mapped out across 100 member nations, between 2018 and 2019.
Today, the unified governing body goes under the name of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation and has over 120 national federations as members, with around 50 recognised by their National Olympic Committee or National Sports Authority.