Mixed martial arts is taking massive developmental strides in the Middle East and North Africa with the formation of the first regional MMA Federation, the Arab Mixed Martial Arts Federation (AMMAF), to elevate the combat sports community and improve the state of the sport in the region.
The inaugural meeting, which was held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, was attended by representatives of eight Arab national federations, who included Mr. Mohammed Ali Qambar from the Kingdom of Bahrain, Mr. Muhammad Al Hosani from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mr. Abdulaziz Julidan from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Mr. Hassan Jazzini from the Lebanese Republic, Mr. Khaled Abdel Hamid from the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. Raed Jamil Abbas from the Republic of Iraq, Mr. Amin Nachib from the Republic of Tunisia and Mr. Abdelkader Benbahi from the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria.
The meeting witnessed the election of the Kingdom of Bahrain for the presidency of AMMAF, while the members voted for the two vice presidents to be entrusted to KSA and UAE, and Lebanon won the position of the general and financial secretariat of the Federation.
The president of AMMAF Mohammed Qambar emphasized the importance of taking the next steps for combat sports in the region.
“Since the establishment of BRAVE Combat Federation in the country, The Kingdom of Bahrain has been on the frontline of revolutionizing mixed martial arts globally and fostering the sport in the region, becoming the number one ranked nation in the sport of mixed martial arts internationally. It is time to replicate those efforts regionally,” says Qambar.
He continued. “It is an honor to be part of the execution of the vision of His Highness Shaikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa. His vision has empowered the sport in the region and has brought with it the need for a federation like the AMMAF to elevate combat sports locally, regionally, and internationally. I am proud to help carry out that vision and the formation of the Arab MMA Federation come from following that vision and working to bring it to the world. The future of mixed martial arts in this region is brighter than ever with the formation of the Arab MMA Federation, and together we can elevate the next generation of high caliber Arab fighters into becoming some of the best in the world by providing resources and opportunities.”
Moreover, AMMAF Vice President Mohammed Al Hosani highlighted the need for an ecosystem in the region to facilitate the rise of the next generation.
“Over the past 3 years, the UAE has achieved incredible progress within the realm of professional MMA, triggering a massive increase in the popularity of the sport nationwide and drawing international acclaim as a world-class host of sporting events,” says Al Hosani.
He continued, “While the professional ranks of MMA within the nation are undoubtedly stronger than ever, there is a highlighted need to create a holistic ecosystem offering pathways from grassroots participation through to the many levels of amateur competition prior to athletes turning pro. Such advancements will also require the education and training of technical staff such as coaches, referees, judges, and medical professionals along with the needed committees and commissions to orchestrate the development. The formation of the Arab MMA Federation has been deemed inevitable for many years now and we are all excited to see the impact the authority will have given the fertility of the regional MMA landscape.”
As for AMMAF Vice President Abdulaziz Julaidan, he commented on the importance of the AMMAF for continued growth.
“Today, MMA is growing fast, and especially in the Arab region, we are seeing high-quality fighters competing at the professional level and representing their country in top organizations,” says Julaidan. “Having the MMA Arab federation is important for keeping that high pace of growth of the sport and it will connect all athletes in the Arab countries.”
On the other hand, the general secretary and treasurer of the AMMAF Hassan Jezzine touched on the importance of the Arab Federation to the MMA development of upcoming countries in the region.
“As Arabs, we already exist in the international scene for several reasons, both in the amateur and professional ranks. In the amateur scene, we demonstrated our abilities in our participation as Arabs in the IMMAF, and as professionals through the establishment of BRAVE CF by HH Shaikh Khaled, which is now one of the top promotions in the world,” says Jezzine.
“Our level as Arabs in MMA is very high. However, there are some Arab countries that currently don't have the resources to organize through federations, even though they have fighters. We’re going to help those countries create federations and connect with the IMMAF and AMMAF in the future. Our mission is to organize and further popularize MMA in the region and highlight our part in the combat sports community internationally. It’s our time to unite as Arab Federations to continue the vision and mission to reach global recognition.”
The newly-founded Federation’s aspirations and endeavors to enhance the level of mixed martial arts in the region is an important milestone for all the nations involved as their collective efforts will be reflected positively in the combat sports community locally, regionally, and internationally.