By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer Jorden Curran 2019 will mark the first full year of unified international championships under IMMAF and WMMAA. The level of competition is at an all-time high and the talent pool is deeper than ever before. In the coming months, nations worldwide will one-by-one complete national team selections for the upcoming international amateur circuit of IMMAF-WMMAA events. Over the next two months in particular, some of the MMA world’s standout nations are set to host national qualifiers. Since the inaugural 2014 IMMAF World Championships, Sweden, the USA and UK have been three of the most prominent competing nations. However, at the 2018 Unified World Championships, the debut impact of an all new Team Russia, now fulfilling the nation’s talent capacity after IMMAF’s amalgamation with Russian based WMMAA, indicated an all new threat to nations accustomed to achieving medals. Under the UKMMAF umbrella, Team England’s first training session open to all national athletes will be hosted on January 20 at 12 Gauge MMA in Manchester, serving as an assessment session for team selections. Further dates include February 9 at the Unit 1 Gym in Bury St Edmunds and February 10 at Titan Fighters Gym in London – visit yorkshiremma.co.uk for more information. The Welsh MMA Federation (MMA Cymru) will host trials under the same format, but with a notice of potential national championships in the event of a high turnout of contenders. The South Wales trials will be hosted on February 9 at the Hangar Human Performance Centre in Cardiff with North Wales trials being held on February 10 at the IPC Gym in Wrexham. Follow MMACymru for more information. Sweden, the World’s number-one ranked nation in amateur MMA, will see the SMMAF National Championships take place on January 26-27 in Vasteras. The annual event will crown the nation’s 2019 national champions and earmark gold and silver medalists as primary picks for the renown national squad. Visit smmaf.se for more information. For now five years running, The USA is the only nation to have won gold at every World Championships under the IMMAF banner. At last year’s historic Unified Worlds, senior women’s bantamweight champion LaNeisha Vincent claimed her nation’s sole gold medal of the 2018 event. As Russia, Sweden and other rival nations continue to step up, the pressure is greater than ever for the USA to continue its gold standard. Taking place from February 28 – March 2, the USA MMA Kick Federation hosts its own annual UMMAF Nationals, this year taking place in St. Ignance, Michigan. Visit ummaf.org for more information.