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MMA bodies seal merger pact

The International MMA Federation (IMMAF) and the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) have confirmed a merger agreement that will see the global unification of the sport and seek to boost its ambition to become part of the Olympic Movement.

Merger talks between the two bodies were first revealed in November. A joint statement today stated an amalgamation agreement was reached between the heads of both organisations on January 16 and approved at general assemblies held by each party on March 25 and Tuesday, respectively.

The organisations stressed it is of key significance to MMA’s bid for sport recognition that one joint application will now be made to the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the umbrella organisation for international sports federations (IFs), which enables access to governmental support and public funding, and is the feeder organisation to the Olympic Games.

Under GAISF criteria only one governance application can be made per sport, and so the amalgamation is expected to further qualify MMA’s bid. The agreement also strengthens MMA’s application by delivering the required number of an organisation’s member federations to be recognised by their sports ministry or National Olympic Committee.

IMMAF president Kerrith Brown (right of picture) said: “The unification of WMMAA and IMMAF has been agreed by both organisations’ members for the betterment of the sport of MMA. As well as strengthening MMA’s bid for sport recognition by the Olympic Movement, the move will bring benefits to the members of both organisations including combined championships and events, joint education courses for officials and a consolidation of resources which will in turn boost growth.”

WMMAA president Vadim Finkelchtein (right of centre) added: “I truly believe that the coming amalgamation will give a huge boost to the global development of MMA as a sport and it will bear positive influence even in those countries in which MMA is still forbidden.

“Joining forces will provide us with an opportunity to achieve recognition for MMA at every official level and to subsequently enter the Olympic Movement. I’m pleased that our organisations have similar goals and a shared vision for the acceptance of MMA into the Olympic Games for 2024 – 2028.”

Today’s announcement comes after the IMMAF last month said it had filed a civil lawsuit against the World Anti-Doping Agency over its refusal to endorse it as a Wada signatory. The IMMAF said the lawsuit was entered in the ordinary Swiss courts in Lausanne on February 23.

The IMMAF is disputing the rejection of its application to become a Wada signatory on the grounds of infringement to its personality rights according to Swiss law. Wada has rejected the IMMAF’s application to become a signatory, but the federation claims to meet all the criteria needed for acceptance. It added that the sole reason given was rebuttal by other recognised IFs, mainly combat sports federations.