LONDON – The International MMA Federation will be heading to Abu Dhabi in August for its 2022 Youth MMA World Championships for 12 to 17-year-olds as part of a three-year hosting rights agreement.
MMA's world governing body has confirmed the competition dates as August 17-20, with the tournament draw taking place on Aug. 16. The event will be live-streamed at IMMAF.tv, with the venue yet to be confirmed.
Hosted by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation, three categories of youth tournaments will be held under IMMAF Youth MMA Rules for 12 to 13-year-olds (Youth C), 14 to 15-year-olds (Youth B) and 16 to 17-year-olds (Youth A). The rule sets have been modified from the Unified Rules with respect to the developmental stage and safety of each age group as advised by IMMAF's medical, coaching, and regulatory affairs committees. IMMAF does not permit head strikes for competitors under the age of 18.
The 2021 Youth Worlds attracted 331 athletes from 23 nations to Bulgaria amidst continued lockdowns and restricted travel for many countries. The top 3 ranking teams were Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. With lockdowns now lifted and a move of location, participation can be expected from a larger spread of nations.
The standard will also increase as this year's minimum technical level required of 14 to 17-year-olds will be "Orange" grade, while "Yellow" grade will remain the requirement for 12-13-year-olds.
"After hosting IMMAF's flagship event back in January, we are thrilled to host this year's IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi," UAE Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Federation board member and chairman of the UAE mixed martial arts committee Mohamed Dalmouj Al Dhaheri said. "The Youths represent a strategic priority for the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation, and our purpose is to empower and cultivate a new generation of highly skilled and qualified MMA athletes. We look forward to hosting the world again in Abu Dhabi this summer and supporting IMMAF in their continuous efforts for youth development and elevation of amateur MMA"
"Youth MMA is one of our biggest growth areas and a significant number of national federations have held their own inaugural youth national championships this year," IMMAF president Kerrith Brown said. "I look forward to the step-up in standard. More countries have been implementing IMMAF's progression scheme at youth level and a raised level of technical competency is demanded to participate in this year's competition.
"I would like to wholeheartedly thank His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; His Excellency Abdulmunem Al Hashmi, President of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation; His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; and His Excellency Mohamed Dalmouj Al Dhaheri, Chairman of the UAE MMA Committee for their belief and commitment to the development of MMA as sport and for facilitating the IMMAF Youth World Championships."