MMASA has put a stake in the ground for all of Africa to build upon

Pictured above: IMMAF president Kerrith Brown South Africa’s national governing body for MMA, Mixed Martial Arts South Africa (MMASA), has put a stake in the ground on which the entire continent can build upon, says IMMAF president Kerrith Brown. The IMMAF president traveled to Johannesburg earlier this month to attend the first ever international amateur MMA championships to take place on African soil, the IMMAF All Africa Open Championships, which concluded on September 3. “MMASA went above and beyond,” the IMMAF president explained. As the hosting body, MMASA not only took lead on organising the event but also on sanctioning as the nation’s sole regulating body supported by government. “It’s fair to say that we were apprehensive about breaking new ground in Africa, but the guys on the ground were exceptional in producing a memorable occasion where the athletes were well accommodated.” The 2016 Africa Open showed glimpses of all that IMMAF has to offer, from welcoming hospitality and unity to showcasing some of the best amateur MMA competitors from around the world, officiated by experienced and certified referees and judges. “Everyone who worked in conjunction with MMASA should be applauded. Pulling off the Africa Open for international amateur competitors goes to show the organisation is well developed. This is a milestone for Africa to build on. We have continued to show that IMMAF can provide a high standard of certified officials anywhere in the world. In South Africa the officials team was led by senior IMMAF official, Doug Burch, from the U.S.. “We are grateful to the enthusiastic sponsors who made it possible to effectively showcase this platform, and the dedicated event leaders such as IMMAF board member Raymond Phillips, MMASA president Bertus Coetzee and IMMAF events coordinator Alistair Pettitt. Our deepest thanks go out to each of the volunteers who performed an amazing job in coming together with the team. The enthusiasm of volunteers has become a cornerstone in its own right that aids the process of each event that takes place under the IMMAF banner.” At the 2016 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas, the Swedish national team established themselves as the front runners of amateur MMA on the world level, but were not content, and continued in pursuit of dominance for the remainder of 2016, the next step being South Africa. While Sweden succeeded in pulling ahead atop the IMMAF world team rankings, they were forced to share in the medal tally with South Africa, who driven with passion as the host nation rallied to take the number-2 spot in the rankings. Furthermore, the world’s top ranked nation in amateur MMA found itself thoroughly tested at times in South Africa, notably at the hands of a dedicated Team India with flyweight semi-finalist and Bronze medal winner Siddiq Bin Mahmood narrowly losing out to Swede Sebastian Gonzalez on an exciting split-decision result. “It meant a lot to Sweden, their dedication to achieving results through consistent participation has seen them excel, but in South Africa they didn’t have it all their own way. You could see that the Indian team is continuing to develop and encouraging performances are becoming more frequent from them. This goes to show that the depth of amateur MMA in India is increasing and India will continue to get stronger. “It was wonderful to see what it meant to the fighters, to be there with family and support behind them.”  IMMAF affiliate MMASA is the official governing body for MMA in South Africa, operating with government support via the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). While in South Africa, the IMMAF president attended EFC 53 on September 2, hosted by Africa’s biggest professional MMA organisation and regulated by MMASA. “There is strong equity in what MMASA has created, both for amateur MMA and the professional side, pushing regulations close to that of the UFC level.” Each promotion regulated by an IMMAF affiliated federation is required to meet a minimum standard as it develops to what the IMMAF president highlights as the ‘Gold standard,’ something that all promoters must have in sight. “EFC has been driven to show responsibility for athlete safety and has been committed to setting greater standards. I was impressed by the attention to detail at EFC with procedures in place through the national Federation’s recommendation. EFC is prepared to meet these standards and has shown understanding of the goals of IMMAF and where it’s currently at.”  The IMMAF president spoke of a shift in attention towards athlete guidance and recommendation as they move to becoming professional competitors. At IMMAF it’s believed that amateur veterans should not be forgotten as they leave the amateur ranks, and advice will always be given. “EFC is a perfect fit for amateurs looking to turn pro, and it has already signed Italy’s 2015 IMMAF world champion Micol DiSegni and South Africa’s 2014 IMMAF champion, Amanda Lino. Athletes want to feel supported. We aim to work with fighters, coaches and managers, and so professional organisations that display commitment to fighter safety and regulation will always receive the recommendation of IMMAF. IMMAF is where future generations can be found and we will do our best to recommend the ideal pathway for their careers.” By lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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