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International MMA Federation founded

ESPN staff
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The sport of MMA took a giant step forwards on Thursday after it was announced that an International Mixed Martial Arts Federation has been established.

In a move that will help homogenise several areas of the sport, it is believed the IMMAF will help MMA move towards recognition at Olympic level. A statement on Thursday confirmed as much.

"Today we announce that on the 29th of February, 2012, the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) took a great step forward in global development as the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) was founded. This governing body's mandate will be to bring international structure, development and support to one of the world's fastest growing sports.

"The IMMAF is registered as a non-profit organisation under Swedish law. It will provide a stable, professional and democratic community for all national federations and offer support to countries committed to forming new federations where none currently exist. Through the creation of these national governing bodies, the IMMAF aims to foster international amateur competition and education, which is an integral part of the continued growth of MMA. Among its initial priorities the IMMAF will seek to grow membership to 25 member countries by the end of 2012.

"Selected to lead the organisation is former MMA athlete, now trainer and business owner August Wallen. In his previous role as president of the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation Mr Wallen was the driving force in the successful push to establish MMA as a sanctioned sport in Sweden and was officially appointed the first president of the IMMAF."

Wallen commented: "This is a very proud day for us. The IMMAF is committed to be at the forefront of developing MMA as an international sport, from the grassroots level to the elite level, supporting the development of regulations and best practices on health, safety, youth involvement and more.

"Our vision is for MMA to be recognised as a sport through the full membership of IMMAF in SportAccord and for it to ultimately become an Olympic sport. I know many of us dedicated to MMA dream of the day that the sport has worldwide recognition and this is a first step towards making that happen."

The UFC has fully supported the creation of the IMMAF, with chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta saying: "In order to maintain the successful growth of our sport, it is important to invest in resources that will develop and cultivate it at an amateur level. Having an umbrella organization that will oversee and help build the sport on a global level will not only provide advanced and ever-improving safety standards but will also create a unified global model to help introduce the sport to new markets. It is our hope that it will also take us one step closer to witnessing the inclusion of the sport of MMA on the Olympic programme."

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