By Dan Palmer
The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has confirmed that the Africa Championships will take place in Johannesburg in April.
Mixed Martial Arts South Africa (MMASA) will host the event at the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) Performance Institute between April 28 and 30.
This will be the first IMMAF event in Africa since 2019, and the Championships will be closed to fighters from other continents for the first time.
A number of African nations are affiliated to IMMAF – Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Hosts South Africa were in the top 10 of the world amateur MMA rankings in 2019, before coronavirus travel restrictions came in. They have now dropped to 19th place.
“It feels good to be returning to Africa and providing the opportunity once more for its amateurs to compete on IMMAF’s international platform,” said IMMAF president Kerrith Brown.
“This follows two difficult years of restrictions and challenges for the sport across the region. In that time, IMMAF has welcomed new member federations including from Algeria, Angola, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“Historically, Africa has provided top-ranked athletes for IMMAF alongside huge talent potential. We look forward to seeing competition intensify through the participation of newcomer nations and the emergence of new rising stars.
“Also, since the last time we were in Africa, IMMAF has become the only MMA governing body to be awarded signatory status by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), recognising our legitimacy and authority based on our standards of good governance.
“And so it is with pride that we return to the continent to hold our first tournament there under the auspices of WADA.”
The EFC boasts more than 120 contracted athletes and has sold out arenas across Africa.
“We are excited to be hosting the 2022 Africa Championships at the EFC Performance Institute,” the organisation’s chief executive Cairo Howarth said.
“EFC has signed multiple past IMMAF competitors and champions, and we are looking forward to seeing the next batch of top upcoming talent from the continent.”
Registration for the Africa Championships began on February 21.
“The IMMAF Africa Championships is the elite international showcase for Africa’s amateur MMA talent,” said Raymond Phillips, the president of MMASA and an IMMAF director for Africa.
“As an IMMAF director and president of MMASA, I welcome all our national teams from across Africa to join us in Johannesburg to show the world that we are a force to be reckoned with.” – Inside the Games