By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran At the start of the new year it was set for IMMAF to take the bold step into establishing a regulated progression and competition platform for age groups from Under-14s to Under-21s. While the IMMAF Coaches Committee continues working to develop tailored rules for Pre-Junior and Cadet divisions, the first steps were taken this year with the announcement of the 2018 European Open Championships and World Championships for Under-21s. Below are some of the key details and benefits for athletes and IMMAF member nations to consider. Rules Under-21s competition (for ages 18-20) will be the first wave of new opportunity for young, developing athletes. These competitions will take place under the usual IMMAF Amateur MMA Rules – identical to that of Senior IMMAF Championships. Who can compete? All amateur athletes age 18-20 are eligible to compete, regardless of having competed in Senior IMMAF championships. Athletes may choose to alternate between Senior and Youth/Junior competition for separate championships. For championships that take place during the same week as a senior event, athletes may only participate in one tournament. If a younger athlete chooses to enter as a Senior at the 2018 European Championships in June, he/she can still enter the Junior World Championships in September. European Championships vs. Junior European Open – Who can compete This year, the European Championships for Senior competitors will be for European nations ONLY. However, the Junior European event for Under-21s will be open to ALL world nations. Example: Australia will be unable to enter the Senior European Championships, but Australian U21 athletes will be able to compete at the Junior European Open Championships. The 2018 IMMAF European Championships and Junior European Open take place from 17-23 June in Bucharest, Romania. Rankings IMMAF is set to develop brand new and separate rankings for Junior competitors and all future age divisions. Results from the 2018 European and World Junior Championships will not effect the current IMMAF world rankings. Progression and Benefits of Junior Championships Junior IMMAF championships provide a magnificent opportunity to developing young athletes; those who seek further experience at a young age or who are simply in the earlier stages of their competitive journey in amateur MMA. Less experienced or less physically developed young athletes are now provided their own arena within a pool of fair and safe, yet highly competitive talent. National teams are permitted to enter a maximum of 2 athletes per weight division. The presence of additional Junior competitions enables national federations to now develop at an even greater rate. For example, when a federation registers 2 Senior athletes to the Lightweight division of the 2018 Asian Open, they can extend their presence by entering two up-and-coming Lightweights to the Junior World Championships, for a total of 4 Lightweight competitors in action. The 2018 IMMAF Asian Open and Junior World Championships take place side-by-side from 3-8 September in Shanghai, China. For more frequently asked questions and answers, you can download the F&Q PDF HERE.