With 50 member nations under its umbrella the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is now the world’s only international Mixed Martial Arts governing body dedicated solely to the development of genuine amateur competitors from the grassroots upwards. On February 8th the World MMA Association, who had previously provided a competitive platform for international amateurs, announced the decision to welcome professional competitors to take part in WMMAA championship events. Via its website the Association stated: “From January 1, 2016 and so on WMMAA cancels the previously valid decision regarding athletes eligibility for participation in WMMAA’s championships. Professional MMA wins are no longer limited by 5 victories. In fact, since 2016 there is no limitation so any athlete willing to participate is allowed to do so.” The IMMAF’s criteria for amateur eligibility dictates that athletes must have no professional experience whatsoever in order to compete in IMMAF championship contests. The IMMAF considers an athlete to be on a professional level and thus not eligible for participation if he/she meets any one of the following criteria:
- Holds a Pro MMA or professional combat sports license issued by any sanctioning body.
- Is under contract with a Pro MMA or professional combat sport promotion.
- Has received a fee for participating in an MMA or professional combat sports match.
- Has participated in a professional MMA match under the Unified Rules of MMA or equivalent in the country where the bout took place.
- Has competed against an opponent with a Pro MMA record at the time the bout took place.
- Has a Professional MMA fight record published anywhere (subject to investigation and confirmation).
In November of 2014 an IMMAF review of amateur criteria concluded that in countries such as France ‘Pankration or Pancrase rules bouts were ultimately accepted as being of Amateur level by IMMAF due to strikes not being permitted on the ground. However, as French competitors may reach a high level of experience in Pankration and also be paid to compete, classification by rules only cannot be definitive.’ – click HERE for a full summary of the Amateur MMA Criteria Review. Following the team registration deadline ahead of IMMAF Championship events each athlete will be put through the vetting process to confirm their status as an amateur. This process is completed by the IMMAF screener who may liaise with national federations during the confirmation process. Athletes may also be subject to vetting by authorities outside of the IMMAF. For example, ahead of the 2015 IMMAF World Championships of Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas athletes were also screened by the USA MMA Federation (UMMAF), as well as the event promoter Tuff-N-Uff and the Nevada State Athletic Commission at their discretion. Further to this the IMMAF carries out WADA compliant doping tests at all its championship events, as it works for official recognition from WADA. The IMMAF is also working to develop an out-of-competition testing programme for its athletes led by anti-doping expert Michele Verroken of Sporting Integrity. In October of 2015 Michele Verroken joined IMMAF CEO Densign White and President Kerrith Brown in Dublin Ireland for a meeting with the UFC’s renowned Vice-president of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky to discuss anti-doping medical measures across Amateur and professional MMA – click HERE for the full article.