The United States Fight League (USFL), led by Jon Frank, has been affiliated by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) as the official amateur MMA federation for the U.S., initially with observation status.
IMMAF recognizes USFL as a non-profit national MMA organization, that organizes regular amateur competitions and works for the development of the sport nationwide. USFL has agreed to comply with IMMAF wtatutes and other IMMAF regulations, the World Ant-Doping Agency code and accept the jurisdiction of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
As president of the USFL, Frank has long played a key role in fostering and supporting youth MMA competitions in the U.S. Now, the USFL will look to fill an adult roster to represent the U.S. in IMMAF's international championships. The U.S. team has performed highly at IMMAF youth world championships, dominating the medals table in 2019, and in 2021 achieving six gold medals, three silver and eight bronze.
"The USFL's primary focus for the past 20 years has been to establish youth MMA as a safe, well-regulated and accepted sport to help build better kids in the United States," Frank said. "Due to the success of our national youth program, IMMAF thought it would be logical to expand our athlete developmental progression from youth pankration to adult MMA."
National team selections
The organization has established a selection committee to recruit the best adult amateur fighters in the nation. UFC Hall of Famer and vice president of athlete development Forrest Griffin will oversee the committee throughout this process. Forrest is also a member of the IMMAF athletes' commission.
“Forrest has the perfect attribute of background, experience, and demeanor to help build a successful MMA national team,” Frank said. “His genuine interest is to make sure our country is well represented in international MMA competition and to build good fighters into great fighters.”
Under Griffin are three additional members of the selection committee tasked with regional recruitment. Two of these regional coordinators have already been selected: David Denkin, lead supervisor inspector overseeing CAMO state championship program, and Eric Garcia, president of Fury Fighting Championship and Submission Hunter Pro.
"This is just the start," Frank said. "We would like to issue an open invitation to any passionate and committed supporter of MMA who wants to help us build the amateur sport across the U.S. Please get in touch."
The selected adult athletes will have the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the 2022 IMMAF World Championships. The prestigious amateur tournament has produced many top professional MMA prospects including Amanda Ribas, Muhammad Mokaev and Brendan Allen.
To round out the youth team, the USFL will hold a national youth MMA championship tournament on May 14 at Dan Henderson's Athletic Training Centre in Temecula, Calif. Open to athletes aged 8-17, the competition will determine who will represent the United States at the 2022 IMMAF Youth World Championships. The two finalists in each weight class will have the first refusal on joining the U.S. amateur national team for the tournament in Abu Dhabi.
"We are delighted to welcome USFL as the new member of IMMAF in the U.S.," IMMAF president Kerrith Brown said. "We have worked closely with Jon Frank and USFL in the past and they understand that the role of an IMMAF member is to develop the sport from the grassroots up and to ensure that amateur athletes have the right 'safety first' environment in which to train and compete. Jon understands that the role of USFL is to develop the amateur sport and build competitive teams for IMMAF events, and USFL will not get involved in sanctioning pro events, or try and compete with professional promoters and organize pro events. USFL is strictly about the amateur sport. We wish Jon, and Forrest, every success as they build a new entity and will be supporting them every step of the way."