Rival MMA bodies begin merger talks with Olympics in their sights
The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has begun merger negotiations with the rival World Mixed Martial Arts Association, as the sport seeks to bring its governance under one roof, a prerequisite for recognition by the Global Association of International Sports Federations, and ultimately for acceptance onto the programme of the Olympic Games.
Members of IMMAF approved the start of negotiations with WMMAA at its general assembly in Manama, Bahrain on 17 November.
IMMAF, which aspires to gaining a place for mixed martial arts in the Olympics, said: “Both organisations have applied to the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) for recognition as the global governing body for the sport of MMA. Since GAISF will only recognize one governing body to represent any sport, the dual application is creating an obstacle to the recognition of MMA.
“The resolution proposed to the IMMAF General Assembly permits IMMAF's Board of Directors to negotiate merger terms with WMMAA and for a letter of intent for a future merger to be written. The majority of IMMAF’s membership voted in favour, with just 7 abstentions and no delegates against.”
Kerrith Brown, IMMAF’s president, said: “The approved resolution opens the door to a great opportunity for collaboration. It will be a pleasure to work alongside Mr Finkelchtein and his team during the negotiation process, as we work to agree on terms that would bring the best mutual outcome for both our organisations and our memberships.”
Vadim Finkelchtein, WMMAA’s president (pictured left with Brown), added: “We have officially launched the unification talks. We are two similar organisations with equal goals. GAISF (previously SportAccord) let us know that MMA will be accepted only when represented by one global body. We invited Kerrith Brown of IMMAF to visit our World MMA Championships in Astana where we had preliminary talks. Now I was invited to visit IMMAF's World MMA Championships in Bahrain. We'll continue negotiating with our goals set on GAISF and, subsequently, IOC.”