As mixed martial arts continues to grow around the world, government recognition continues to be an important crux for the legitimisation of the sport. One country leading the line, New Zealand, have successfully campaigned for official recognition from Sport NZ which was awarded to them in March, 2015. It’s a definitive two year journey for the governing body. In May 2013, The New Zealand Mixed Martial Arts Federation (NZMMA) became the first member federation from Oceania to join under the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation banner. Ever since, they have progressively shown exactly how MMA can follow the blueprint of all other successful regulated sports. It’s an extremely important step for MMA in NZ, not only from a safety standpoint, but it also gives the sport a much needed monetary boost. The recognition opens up the opportunity for the body to profit from betting on MMA within the country. The betting availability for UFC Brisbane (March 20) on the New Zealand TAB, meant the NZMMAF earned a percentage of the profits and turnover – this will effectively allow the body to invest money into the legitimisation of the sport nationwide. Stuff.co.NZ’s Philip McSweeney highlighted the key importance of the NZMMAF’s role in improving safety and regulation standards of MMA in a recent feature. A spokesman for Sport NZ – the main body in New Zealand who hold sports to account, making sure they comply with official government regulations – told McSweeney: “We pushed them back for a couple of years until they met our criteria, to our satisfaction. To their credit they [NZMMAF] kept trying and fixed what we needed them to.” The kind of safeguards which the NZMMAF put in place for promoters: mandatory pre-bout medical checks, mandatory event medical staff as well as the importance that all officials meet sports’ regulation standards. Speaking to Stuff NZ, NZMMAF President Terry Hill gave clarification to the importance of having regulations in place to ensure an adequate level of safety for all those involved in MMA. He said: “The whole ‘no rules’ thing — it’s an advertising ploy. There are a lot of rules and regulations to ensure fighters’ safety. “As much as it’s a sport, there obviously has to be an element of safety to adhere to.” With UFC stars such as Mark Hunt and Robert Whittaker flying the flag worldwide for New Zealand, it is a testament to their work inside the cage that the NZMMAF are working rigorously to help lay a safe foundation for the next generation of mixed martial arts superstars.