Pictured: 2017 European Open, Light-Heavyweight medallists – Gold: Anton Turkalj (Sweden), Silver: Kubaibergen Toleubayev (Kazakhstan), Bronze: Pawel Zakrzewski (Poland), Bronze: Imad Hoayek (Lebanon). Since the event’s inception in 2014, the annual IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA have achieved continuous growth. In 2017, the IMMAF World Championships saw record participation numbers with 248 athletes in action from across 48 national federations. The 45% increase in competing nations following 2016 generated a 18% increase in individual athlete participation. The IMMAF World Championships return to Bahrain in 2018, taking place from 11-18 November at the Khalifa Sport City Arena, in the capital city of Manama. Once again, IMMAF anticipates further growth of the event, however, following the amalgamation of the International MMA Federation (IMMAF) and the World MMA Association (WMMAA), the total number of competing athletes could rise to anywhere from 350-500, a significant factor being that the WMMAA will not be hosting its own 2018 championships. Due to the natural growth of IMMAF now combined with the sudden influx of unification with WMMAA, tournament registration is expected to be in high demand. IMMAF currently affords a window of priority registration to the top 32 ranked nations with each weight bracket of the World Championships holding a maximum of 32 competitors. Because of this, IMMAF’s continental events circuit: The European Championships, Africa Open, Asian Open and Oceania Open, are now more influential than ever before due to the ranking points that are up for grabs at each contest. 54 of IMMAF’s member nations are currently listed in the international team rankings. Nations below the number-32 position find themselves at risk of losing tournaments placements, should the priority window be as prominent as anticipated. 17 nations who competed at the 2017 World Championships are ranked below the priority cut-off point. However, a number of those currently below no.32 (Estonia) will be set to climb to higher positions in the coming months with the European Championships being contested in June, plus the Africa Open later this month and the Asian Open Championships taking place in September as the final opportunity to acquire valuable ranking points. IMMAF rankings are updated following the completion of each international championship event. Visit IMMAF.org for more information on international rankings.