As the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation entered into a signatory status with theWorld Antidoping Agency (WADA), a new chapter of clean and athlete-friendly trajectory has been enabled for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. The major win takes place weeks ahead of the IMMAF’s first World Championships in two years after COVID-19 put a stop to competition in 2020.
IMMAF World Championships to Abu Dhabi from the 24th to 29th January 2022. This follows the earlier cancellation of the event (due to the pandemic), which was to be originally held in Kazakhstan. Hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, with the support of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and in partnership with Palms Sports, the senior and junior nations tournaments will now take place at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City, near UFC Fight Island (Yas Island).
IMMAF’s flagship annual event in 2019 attracted around 450 athletes from 49 nations, before COVID-19 put a stop to IMMAF championships in 2020, making this the first IMMAF World in two years. Returning medallists and new rising stars have made their mark this year at the IMMAF European Championships and World Cup Prague, establishing compelling rivalries expected to play out at a highly competitive World Championships, which will be broadcast globally.
UAEMMAF President Abdulmunem Al Hashmi said:
“The UAE has become a beacon of culture, sports, economy, and civilization, achieving a pioneering role in various fields of life. There is hardly a day without a celebration of a scientific, cultural, economic, or political event. Today, we celebrate with you the announcement of hosting the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior World Championships, which will be held next January in Abu Dhabi.
“Our beloved Abu Dhabi has established its international status as the new capital of mixed martial arts and has become synonymous with the sport, attracting MMA’s superstars, professional fighters, and emerging athletes from all over the world, who aspire to make a name for themselves in this field. With the many prominent partnerships between Abu Dhabi and a large number of major international mixed martial arts organizations, led by the UFC, in addition to the UAE Warriors Championship Series, we are pleased to add a new partnership to this distinguished list with the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, which decided to grant Abu Dhabi the right to organize the 2021 World Amateur MMA Championships to consolidate our capabilities and our position in this context.”
“This achievement has a special place in our hearts, especially that the MMA Committee of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation has only been established less than 6 months ago, which consolidates the global reputation that the UAE earned in the sport of mixed martial arts.”
“The Emirati Sports ecosystem is blessed with the generous support of our leaders, without which none of these world-renowned achievements would have been possible. Our leading Jiu-Jitsu model was inspired by the prudent vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the patron of sports and athletes. This, in turn, lays a great responsibility on our shoulders to seek prominence and always aspire for the first place.”
His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, declared Abu Dhabi’s hosting of the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior World Championships as a key sporting event held in the capital city.
He emphasized the championship’s esteem as proof of the UAE leadership’s efforts in championing Abu Dhabi as a global destination for combat sports, praising the prolific cooperation between the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, UAE Jiu-Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts Federation and Palms Sports.
“The partnership has paved the way for hosting the IMMAF Youth World Championships for the next three years, contributing in strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position in organizing major sporting events globally,” HE Al Awani said.
“Abu Dhabi Sports Council attaches great importance in providing all forms of support and the reasons for the success of these prestigious events.”
Palms Sports CEO Fouad Darwish said:
“Over the past five years, Palms Sports leveraged its leading position in the world of Jiu-Jitsu and our unique relation with the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and added Mixed Martial Arts to our portfolio in 2019. Since then, we built on our strengths and managed to develop the professional MMA scene. Our flagship promotion, UAE Warriors, is bringing MMA closer to the local, regional and international audience. In developing the amateur MMA scene, we are fully engaged and preparing to take it all to the next level.”
“The level of sporting infrastructure that is in place in Abu Dhabi is second to none, and we witnessed all that when the capital hosted a number of events during the pandemic. We have recently signed a tripartite agreement with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation to back our ambitious plans to make the UAE capital the global center of Mixed Martial Arts.”
“Abu Dhabi has become synonymous with world-class cultural and sports events, and hosting the 2021 IMMAF Senior and Junior World Championships next year, in addition to the Youth Worlds for the next three years, will add to the city’s recognition as the new capital of mixed martial arts.”
Meanwhile BRAVE Combat Federation, the global Mixed Martial Arts promotion also welcomed the signatory status by IMMAF with the WADA. BRAVE CF and the IMMAF have been working together fostering the development of the sport since day one, in a partnership that has included the biggest world championships in the history of amateur MMA and three consecutive BRAVE International Combat Weeks in the Kingdom of Bahrain that cemented the growth of the sport in the GCC region.
BRAVE CF has showcased numerous athletes who have competed and are champions at the IMMAF including Jose Torres, Frans Mlambo, Muhammad Mokaev, and more. The promotion nurtured the sport in the region from 2016 and created the opportunity for athletes to compete on a global level.
“On behalf of BRAVE Combat Federation, the BRAVE Nation, and the entire Mixed Martial Arts community, I’d like to congratulate the IMMAF for this huge step for MMA as a sport. I’d like to congratulate and extend my greetings to Mr. Kerrith Brown and Densign White, President and CEO of the IMMAF. The future is bright for our sport and we’re excited to be part of this legacy”, said Mohammed Shahid, BRAVE CF President.
The adherence of IMMAF and the signature of the WADA Code included an assessment by independent experts of its level of good governance, a review of WADA’s application, and the completion of an extensive Code Compliance Questionnaire to demonstrate the quality of the anti-doping program.