The first-ever International Mixed Martial Arts Federation was established earlier this week, and somewhat surprisingly, the Ultimate Fighting Championship immediately backed it.
According to a press release issued by the IMMAF, which was registered as a non-profit organization under Swedish law, the federation's "mandate will be to bring international structure, development and support to one of the world's fastest growing sports."
The first president of the IMMAF is former MMA fighter turned business owner and trainer August Walln. Walln retired from the sport in Nov. 2010 with a professional record of 6-1. He was formerly the president of the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation, which helped sanction the sport in the country.
"This is a very proud day for us," Walln stated in a release. "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 recognized as a sport through the full membership of IMMAF in SportAccord and for it to ultimately become an Olympic sport," he continued. "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 IMMAF hopes to have 25 member countries by the end of the year. There is no membership fee to join the Federation, and since it's a non-profit organization, it will be funded solely on donations. The UFC has never backed an organization like this before.
"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," UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stated in a release issued by the promotion. "Having anumbrella 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."
The IMMAF will also work to establish an international amateur MMA program.