Mixed martial arts hoping to ‘awaken the dragon’ with China to host Asian Open Championship in 2018

Governing body is looking to regulate, standardise and promote the sport within the Greater China region

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 11:45pm

Mixed martial arts has amped-up its move into the mainstream in China with the announcement on Friday that the country will host next year’s amateur International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (Immaf) Asian Open Championship.

The announcement – made in Beijing by Immaf chief executive Densign White and heralded as the “Awakening of the Dragon” – follows the first staging of the regional event in Singapore in June and comes just eight months after the China International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (Cimma) came into being.

A delegation from the Cimmaf was at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore for the event and quite obviously liked what they saw as fighters from 15 nations battled it out inside the cage.

“Cimmaf’s mission is to regulate, standardise and to promote MMA sports within the Greater China region (including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau), especially in existing fitness clubs and gyms; as well as into the sports education sector and professional training in the near future,” Cimmaf president Wei Yonghua said.

A date for next year’s Asian Open is yet to be decided. The Immaf has been gradually expanding its reach around the globe since its formation in 2012, and it has been working with the likes of professional mixed martial arts promoters the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), as well as the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency as it seeks to establish “rule sets on athletes, referees, coaches and paramedics; as well as providing benchmarked guidance in setting up world-class MMA training facilities and academies”.

The sport has taken off in China over the past decade, much as it has around the globe, with the UFC estimating the sport has 77 million fans across the mainland.

On the ground in the country any number of local promoters – and fighters – have rallied to the cause and the Cimmaf announced on Friday it would be working closely with the Reign In Power Fighting Championship (RIPFC).

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A Cimmaf statement said particular organisations had set out to “promote and to excavate even more potential MMA athletes to step into the MMA platforms, both local and the international scene”.

The Cimmaf also announced a preliminary mutual agreement with the China-wide Dream Muscle School (DMS) to use its 2,700 gyms across the country as training centres for the sport’s athletes, coaches, referees and paramedics, while signing strategic partnership agreements with the Beijing Fangshan Sports Bureau and the Hangzhou Municipal Government.