Mixed martial arts has shown to be the ultimate test of one’s ability to prepare, adapt and prevail. The beautiful art of MMA is filled with endless adversity that questions an individual’s ability to overcome fear and doubt. Not only does MMA get you in the best physical shape possible, but it also offers you the opportunity to become the best version of yourself mentally.
To help the sport grow globally, development at all ages will be a necessity. The International Mixed Martial Arts Foundation (IMMAF) is changing the MMA world through the development of young talent. Their variety of amateur events and tournaments have showcased the future of MMA over the past decade. My interest in the organization was overbearing due to the number of skilled fighters coming from their events. I needed to figure out what was going on behind the scenes.
After exchanging emails with IMMAF, I found myself interviewing two brilliant combat-sports minds. IMMAF CEO Densign White and President Kerrith Brown joined me to discuss an abundance of MMA topics. The work they have continued to do will better the sport of MMA for future decades. Before listening to the exclusive interview above, get familiar with IMMAF below.
The History of IMMAF
Although IMMAF started only nine years ago, the progress it has made is astounding. IMMAF was not always the only organization with similar aspirations. In 2012, IMMAF and the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) were created in the hopes of bringing MMA to the Olympic level.
IMMAF was founded by August Wallen and George Sallfeldt, two Swedish gentlemen looking to contribute to the future of MMA. Wallen became the first president of IMMAF, and Sallfeldt took over the vice-president role. The WMMAA was founded by Vadim Finkelchtein, who created the Russian MMA Union and M1 Global. These two separate organizations were looking to do whatever it took to build the sport.
Things started wonderfully for IMMAF. It gained support from the UFC. In fact, the first-ever IMMAF event was at the 2014 UFC International Fight Week. On the other hand, the WMMAA held its first events only months after being founded in 2012.
Throughout the years that followed, both IMMAF and the WMMAA grew quickly by showcasing the best amateur MMA fighters. Despite being pleased with their progress, the journey to getting MMA to the Olympics had only just begun.
In 2018, everything changed for the amateur MMA scene. IMMAF and the WMMAA decided there was no need for a competitive nature. They decided to do what was needed and merged the two organizations into one powerhouse. Since joining forces, IMMAF has grown so rapidly that its future goals seem to be destiny at this point.
IMMAF’s Impact on MMA
One of the most intriguing aspects of MMA is the pace at which it has grown globally. The UFC was founded in 1993, and we have only scratched the surface on the potential audience of MMA. The same goes for IMMAF, who still believe they have only just started on the path to what they look to accomplish.
Despite some fans not being aware of IMMAF, their past champions have started to make big impacts in the MMA world. This list of IMMAF alums includes Brendan Allen, Alessio Di Chirico, Frans Mlambo, Jack Shore, Muhammad Mokaev, and more. Although their past competitors are impressive, IMMAF’s upcoming events will have the most potential yet.
Another way IMMAF is making an impact is by building a pathway to MMA in the Olympics. Since the organization was first created, the goal was always to get to the Olympics. Their ability to build international MMA has been a huge step in the right direction. By hosting the World Amateur Championships, IMMAF offers every country an equal opportunity to establish future talent and display their skills on a wide platform.
After being hired separately in 2014 and 2015, two former Olympic judokas looked to take IMMAF to the next level. The aforementioned CEO White and President Brown, two former members of the British Judo Association, emerged as the perfect duo to lead IMMAF. Both White and Brown have a judo background that helped them grow into the wonderful human beings they have become.
These gentlemen have done unbelievable things for MMA, including their efforts to legalize MMA in France. They also held the first-ever World Youth MMA Championships in 2019. Their outstanding work ethic has paired well while they continue to accomplish their goals one step at a time.
Everything was going smoothly until the COVID-19 pandemic stopped all of IMMAF’s momentum. However, they made the best of the situation and prepared for their post-COVID takeover.
Entering 2021, IMMAF had already worked with nearly 117 different countries. With 26 countries featured in IMMAF’s last Youth World Championships, they will look to significantly increase their numbers this year.
Luckily, we will not have to wait long to see their next event. The 2021 IMMAF Youth MMA Championships begin on July 29 in Sofia, Bulgaria. This event will put the best amateur fighters against each other, with the championship representing one of the highest honors in amateur MMA.
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