IMMAF Takes Next Step to Olympic MMA

In the scattered landscape of MMA beyond the major promotions, the sport’s overall governing body, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) was formed in 2012. The organization is now in the process of making the most popular combat sport a recognized Olympic sport.

The IMMAF submitted it’s application to be a part of SportAccord, “the umbrella organization for all (Olympic and non-Olympic) international sports federations as well as organizers of multi-sports games and sport-related international associations” late last month. SportAccord divides membership into the International Olympic Committee (IOC and the Associations of Summer/Winter Olympic International Federations), and three other categories.

According to a 2016 article, “The first pre-requisite for a sport to be considered for the Olympics is to have an international federation (what the IMMAF has applied to SportAccord to be recognized as.) The federations fill out questionnaires that can run 100 pages long with information on gender equity, global participation and passion by fans as measured by TV audiences, social media, event attendance and more. The cost of venues to hold the sports is also a consideration.”

Next, comes proposal approval by the IOC Executive Board and then eventually the entire IOC. In short, SportAccord recognition allows MMA to bid to join the Olympics in the future as said by IMMAF’s President, Kerrith Brown.

The organization is also already meeting the criteria of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and submitted its WADA application earlier this year. Once the IMMAF is accepted by the WADA, it is considered fully compliant with SportAccord. All of the current single-discipline Olympic combat sports of boxing, wrestling, judo, and taekwondo are a part of SportAccord and the IOC with fellow SportAccord member, the International Karate Federation, debuting karate at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

This amateur body also conforms to the Unified Rules of MMA, which has been legally accepted by all 50 U.S. states (the last being New York in March) with very few international holdouts such as France. While the IMMAF may follow the rules mentioned above, it actually goes a step further with even stricter rules due to the amateur status of the competitors.

Further rule changes for Olympic competition are probably still likely. We will keep you updated with new information as this process continues, but the situation looks more promising than ever before.

“Since MMA meets every definition of an autonomous sport and IMMAF meets all SportAccord criteria, we anticipate no fair or objective reason why our application should not be successful” CEO Densign White said.