MMA is a sport; UFC, IMMAF, BRAVE CF, M1-Global, Cage Warriors speak up

MMA is a sport

Major mixed martial arts organizations have joined forces to launch a public petition that demands formal recognition of MMA by the International Olympic Committee and governments around the world. Among the organizations are the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, BRAVE Combat Federation, M1-Global and Cage Warriors, which are based in the United States, Sweden, Bahrain, Russia and England, respectively.

If the IOC and governments formally recognize MMA as a sport, governance and regulations can be implemented to ensure health and safety for recreational participants, as well as amateur and professional athletes. Here are the statements released by officials from the UFC, the IMMAF, BRAVE CF, M1-Global and Cage Warriors:


Lawrence Epstein

UFC chief operating officer 

“The incredibly skilled men and women who compete in professional and amateur mixed martial arts around the world deserve recognition for their sport.  Like the world-class Olympians whose sports already have formal IOC recognition, MMA athletes have dedicated many years to developing their abilities, and they deserve to have the opportunity to showcase their talents on the historic, global stage that the Olympics provides.  Among the core values of MMA are sportsmanship and respect for your competitors, values that are well aligned with the Olympic Movement.  For this reason and many others, we stand with IMMAF in calling on the IOC to formally recognize MMA as a sport, once and for all.”


Kerrith Brown

IMMAF president 

“The lack of transparency around how sports are recognized at an international level not only affects MMA but has far-reaching impact across various sports communities worldwide, outcasting participants and exposing them to unnecessary risk. This includes children and impacts our ability to foster the development of the next generation in a safe and well governed environment. The power of the International Sport Federations movement cannot be underestimated, as their judgments are frequently deferred to by governments worldwide in their decision making about sport and significant tax-payer funding of sport. We call on the International Olympic Committee and sports ministers to review and ensure fair process in the international recognition and governance of sport, to protect the rights of citizens globally to safe and equitable access to the sport of their choice.”


Vadim Finkelchtein

M1– Global president, IMMAF honorary president 

“After just twenty years of its existence there is no country in the world without MMA. With the fan base, popularity and opportunities the sport of MMA has to offer, the IOC should be wanting us to join. It took MMA just two decades to show the world its values, the respect between its athletes and its unique skillset. It obvious to me how traditional martial arts are using their position and pulling strings to stop MMA from being recognised. But sport should not be  about politics. The International Sports organisations should be backing the interests of the majority instead of following the lead of the few. MMA is a sport and our recognition cannot be stopped. It is just a matter of time. Acceptance of MMA will mark a new era in the history of the IOC.”


Cas Knight

Cage Warriors CEO

“Sport recognition would have a positive impact on the organisation of professional MMA across Europe. It would facilitate easier access for athletes to professional services, such as medical services, and enable all round governance of the sport to the benefit of its participants.”


Mohammed Shahid

BRAVE CF president, KHK Sports CEO, KHK MMA CEO

“It is imperative for MMA that a strong body like the IMMAF can bring the mixed martial arts community together with one united vision. We need to have stronger regulations and need to collaborate as a sport. It is our duty as representatives for the sport of MMA to move forward in a way that is in the best interest of the athletes and the image of MMA; currently MMA is being misrepresented as a sport. A new system is needed for mixed martial arts. We need to move beyond the event business and move into the sports business. Organizing the sport under a structured, monitored health and sports system is the first steps towards regulating the sport. IMMAF is leading amateur MMA as the international governing body and to have IMMAF recognised is key for the sport.”

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