IMMAF President Kerrith Brown has just returned from a trip to Bulgaria where he witnessed the impressive development of grass roots MMA in the region. Bulgaria’s amateur MMA scene is undergoing a rapid evolution and laying the foundations for significant developments in 2016, under the guidance of the Bulgarian Federation of Mixed Martial Arts. The IMMAF President explained that the Bulgarian Federation enjoys encouraging support from its government including Bulgaria’s sports minister, Krasen Kralev. The local Mayor was present as Brown was welcomed as a guest alongside Orhan Özakti, President of the Turkey Martial Arts & Self Defence Federation, at the Balkan Amateur MMA Championships which took place in Pazardzik, Bulgaria, this past weekend with proceeds going to charity. All amateur bouts were held under the unified IMMAF rules, and using shin and headguards. According to Mr. Brown, the excellent organisation of the event made a lasting impression, and the Bulgarian Federation, headed by President Stanislav Nedkov, expressed a strong interest in hosting the 2017 IMMAF European Open Championships. The Turkey Martial Arts & Self Defence Federation also made an overture to hosting the event in 2018. The IMMAF President explained, “The hospitality was second to none. It’s fantastic to see the Bulgarian Federation demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility in donating the proceeds from the Balkan Amateur Championships to charity. It’s hugely pleasing to see the Bulgarian Federation developing such a relationship between sport of MMA and the wider community, as well as a positive relationship with local government that we hope for all IMMAF members to achieve.” He continued, “Bulgaria have given a strong indication of their intent to host the 2017 European Open, and will be part of the consideration process alongside all other nations who come forward. Competition in Bulgaria is a new start for the country’s amateur development and it was a pleasure to witness such a very professional event with strong matches. It was inspiring to see a number of IMMAF championship veterans from the Balkan regions competing and showcasing just how much their experience has set them apart from the rest. I have no doubt that the experience and talent of these athletes will continue to show and inspire those who are yet to make their way onto the IMMAF platform. It was clear to me that Bulgaria’s grass roots development is flourishing.” Bulgaria achieved standout results at the inaugural IMMAF European Open in November. The team’s accumulated success saw them leave Walsall, England, as the fourth most successful nation with two Golds, one Silver, and one Bronze medal.