MMA is applying for Olympic recognition, Mirror Fighting can exclusively reveal.
As the Rio Olympics are under starter’s orders new martial arts have already been confirmed for Tokyo in 2020.
Now it is confirmed that Karate will join Taekwondo, Judo, boxing and fencing in the Olympic pantheon of martial arts and wrestling will also return.
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta said: “The Olympics are a business and they want to attract those younger viewers for all these big television deals.
“Where we’re going with UFC, eventually we (MMA) will be part of the Olympics.”
GettyUFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey poses for a portrait ahead of the launch of the official Reebok kitFormer UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is a former Olympic medalist
While the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is synonymous with MMA for many, the amateur governing body for the sport is the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) – and the group already has Olympic recognition among half of its 58 members.
IMMAF CEO Densign White, also a former Olympic Judo player, told Mirror Fighting: “Firstly, I’d like to congratulate the World Karate Federation.
“It is fantastic to see another MMA core sport welcomed into the Olympics. Like judo, Taekwondo, boxing and wrestling, Karate has very much informed the development of MMA and shares many of its values.
“Karate’s acceptance by the IOC also gives us hope as IMMAF submits it’s application to Sport Accord this month for sport recognition, having exceeded all criteria.”
A spokesman for the IMMAF said: “Our vision is for Mixed Martial Arts to be recognized as a sport and ultimately become an Olympic sport.
“Becoming an Olympic sport is the ultimate achievement and highest formal recognition possible for any sport. Hence that is what the IMMAF will strive towards.
GettyDaniel Cornier takes down Anderson SilvaDaniel Cornier was in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics
GettyAnderson Silva punches Daniel CornierDaniel Cornier competed in freestyle wrestling at the Olympics
“We see that the challenges for MMA are great today, but so are the opportunities, and the IMMAF should not have any lesser ambition for MMA than this.
“When the IMMAF formulates goals, strategies and tactics over the coming years they will need to pass the test – will this be an instrument in fulfilling the organisation’s vision?”
The president of the IMMAF is himself a former Olympian.
As an elite level judoka, Kerrith Brown has represented Great Britain to win championship medals across various international platforms, including a bronze medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
“I’ve always had a love of combat sports, going back to the days of watching mixed martial arts as far back as Muhammed Ali fighting Anonio Inoki in a boxing ring.
GettyDaniel CormierDaniel Cormier takes down Dan Henderson in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC 173. Both are former Olympians
“Obviously, it interests me as an ex competitor, having competed and medalled at European, World and Olympic levels. “Judo is renowned for being a well structured organization through the IJF (International Judo Federation) and EJU (European Judo Union) and its national federations.
“When I was chairman of British Judo, our governance structure was of a good standard and I like to think that’s what I can bring over to MMA.”
For Olympic recognition there are a number of criteria which the IMMAF and MMA must meet in order to be considered for recognition.
As part of this, official recognition from national governments and Olympic committees can be highly influential.
GettyRandy Couture celebrates after defeating James ToneyRandy Couture is a 3 time Olympic alternate and a UFC legend
Among the 50 Member Nations under IMMAF’s umbrella, over half have achieved the great milestone of official recognition from either national government or the National Olympic Committee (NOC).
The 2024 Summer Olympics could see MMA included. Bidding for the games started in 2015, and the host of the Summer Olympic Games will be announced at the 130th International Olympic Committee Session in Lima, Peru in September next year.
In 2013, the IOC added wrestling to the Olympic programme for the 2020 and 2024 Games. United World Wrestling are in charge of freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
MMA is arguably one of the original Olympic sports.
Pankration was a sporting event introduced into the Greek Olympic Games in 648 BC and was an empty-hand submission sport with barely any rules.
The athletes used techniques from boxing and wrestling but also other types, such as kicking and holds, locks and chokes on the ground.
The only things not acceptable were biting and gouging out the opponent’s eyes. MMA at both pro and amateur level of course has more rules than these.
GettyDan SevernFormer UFC champion Dan “The Beast” Severn was an Olympic alternate
UFC fighters who have competed in the Olympics:
Kevin Jackson (1992 Olympics, gold medal, freestyle wrestling) UFC 14
Mark Schultz (1984 Olympics, gold medal, freestyle wrestling) UFC 9
Townsend Saunders (1996 Olympics, silver, freestyle wrestling) UFC 16
Matt Lindland (2000 Olympics, silver, Greco-Roman wrestling) UFC 29, 37, 43
Sara McCann (2004 Olympics, silver, freestyle wrestling) UFC 159
Yoel Romero (2004 Olympics, silver, freestyle wrestling) UFC on Fox 7
Ronda Rousey (2008 Olympics, bronze, Judo) UFC 157 onwards
Mark Coleman (1992 Olympics, freestyle wrestling) UFC 10 onwards
Daniel Cormier (2004 and 2008 Olympics, freestyle wrestling), UFC 166 onwards
Dan Henderson (1992 and 1996 Olympics Greco-Roman) UFC 17 onwards
Hector Lombard (2000 Olympics for Cuba, Judo) UFC 149
Christophe Leininger (1984, 1988, 1992 Judo alternate) UFC 3
Randy Couture (1988, 1992, 1996 Greco-Roman alternate) UFC 13 onwards
Dan Severn (1984 freestyle wrestling alternate) UFC 4 onwards
Darrel Gholar (1988 Greco-Roman alternate) UFC 18
Trevor Prangley (1996 for South Africa, freestyle wrestling) UFC 48 onwards
Mike Van Arsdale (1996, 2000 freestyle alternate), UFC 17, 54, 57
Ronda Rousey competing at the Olympics:
One of the cities bidding to host the 2024 games is Los Angeles – which would seem like a good time for the American-born sport of MMA to be introduced.
It is one of four candidate cities along with Paris, Rome and Budapest.
The inaugural UFC women’s bantam weight champion Ronda Rousey is a former Olympic medalist in Judo and the first American woman to medal in the event.
IMMAF members currently recognised by their national (or state) governments and/or National Olympic Committees:
Brazil – Comissão Atlética Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA) established across 6 states in Brazil.
Canada – Canadian Combat Alliance (CCA) is government recognized in a number of states with the affiliated Ontario Grappling Alliance recognized in others.
Colombia – Asociación Colombiana de Artes Marciales Mixtas (OCAMM) recognised by the Ministry of Sport.
El Salvador – Salvadorean Kickboxing & MMA Federation recognised by the National Institute of Sports.
Paraguay – Federacion Paraguaya de Kick Boxing Muay Thai & MMA recognised by its NOC.
USA – United States Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UMMAF), MMA is regulated under most State Athletic Commissions in the US. UMMAF regulates Amateur MMA under some state athletic commissions.
Bahrain – Bahrain Mixed Martial Arts Federation is supported and funded by patron Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Khalifa, Minister for Youth and Sports in Bahrain.
Hasemite Kingdom of Jorden – Jordan Mixed Martial Arts Federation is recognised by the Jordanian Olympic Committee and affiliated with Jordanian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.
Malaysia – Malaysian Mixed Martial Arts Alliance (MASMAA) is government recognized.
Nepal – Nepal National Martial Art Games Confederation is recognised and regulated under the government mandated National Sports Council.
Tajikistan – Mixed Martial Arts Federation of the Republic of Tajikistan is NOC recognised.
Albania – Albanian Free Fighting Federation is recognised by its Ministry of Sport.
Azerbaijan – Azerbai̇jan Mixed Martial Arts League is recognized under the Ministry of Sports of Azerbaijan and Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan.
Belgium – Belgium Mixed Martial Arts Federation (BMMAF) is government recognised in Belgium’s Flemmish region, while it continues to lobby for acceptance in the Walloon (French) region.
Czech Republic – Mixed Martial Arts Association Czech Republic is government recognised with university degrees and master degrees established at the Charles University in Prague.
Greece – Greek Wrestling MMA is government and NOC recognized under the Greek Wrestling Federation
Northern Ireland – Ulster Amateur MMA Association (UAMMAA) is recognized by the Ulster government and youth MMA programmes are government funded.
Republic of Ireland – Irish Amateur Pankration Association (IAPA) is government recognized under the Republic of Ireland’s wrestling federation.
Italy – Italian Grappling and Mixed Martial Arts Federation (FIGMMA) is government recognized under FILA (now United World Wrestling) which sits under Sport Accord and the IOC. Receives some funding through FILA.
Portugal – Comissão Atlética Portuguesa de MMA (CAPMMA) is government recognized and part funded under the IOC recognized national wrestling federation, the Federação Portuguesa de Lutas Amadoras (FPLA).
Romania – Romanian Mixed Martial Arts Federation (RMMAF) is recognised under the Ministry of Youth and Sport in Romania.
Sweden – Sweden Mixed Martial Arts Federation (SMMAF) is government licensed and MMA is regulated sport.
Ukraine – All Ukrainian Federation of Free-fight, Single Combat and Mixed Martial Arts is government recognized and regulates Amateur MMA.
New Zealand – New Zealand Mixed Martial Arts Federation (NZMMAF) is recognised under Sport New Zealand.
Cameroon – National Fighting Sports Multi-Martial Arts Association is government recognised and Educational MMA is taught in secondary schools.
Egypt – The Egyptian MMA Committee (EMMAC) has been mandated by the Ministry of Sport to form a governing body for MMA.
The Seychelles – The Seychelles Mixed Martial Arts Association is recognised by the National Sports Council of Seychelles. The Seychelles National Olympic Committee is also supportive with resources.
South Africa – Mixed Martial Arts South Africa (MMASA) is the only IMMAF approved governing body for MMA in South Africa, appointed by its NOC and Sports Council, mandated to govern Amateur and Pro MMA.