French MMA is still building its own structure (before it takes off) with the backing of boxing

With the support of the French Boxing Federation, the development of MMA in France will continue along this path: the delegation awarded to the FFB during the legalization two years ago was renewed by the Ministry of Sport at the end of March. The MMA’s national technical adviser, Lionel Brezephin, conducted an initial assessment of this structure for RMC Sport and discussed future prospects before seeing the discipline stand alone.

Two years after legalization, MMA continues to grow in France. And this road will continue under the authorization of the French Boxing Federation. While the FFB was given the mandated status “to support the structure of the French MMA in order to achieve full autonomy” two years ago, the sports ministry confirmed the delegation’s renewal on March 28.

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“It’s not certain yet, as there is another federation, the FFKMDA (French Federation of Taekwondo, Muay Thai and Allied Disciplines, Editor’s Note), which also asks for delegations, and it also strongly advocates the reinstatement of the FFB’s National Technical Advisor for MMA And Lionel Brezephin, the guarantor of the implementation of the whole system, explained. This is the department that the Ministry arbitrates according to the elements to be its layout. The work started two years ago, all the structural efforts, played a role. In my opinion, starting from scratch will It’s a pity, because in addition to the design, we have been in the operational phase since last year. Things are slowly falling into place, and the concrete of everything has been written.”

This updated delegation has a vision: the 2024 Paris Olympics. It will end after the Olympic deadline and the idea is to see MMA, today formed by the FFB’s in-house body, FMMAF (French Mixed Martial Arts Federation), affiliated with IMMAF (International Mixed Martial Arts Federation) on its own. “The ambition is to have an autonomous MMA by the end of this structuring phase, confirmed Lionel Brezephin. It was already in the initial AMI (call for interest, editor’s note) that we responded to, and I wrote. We hope that the FMMAF will be able to meet the deadline Before becoming FFMMA.”

Meanwhile, two years after legalization, it’s time for the first assessment of this structure. First the data: “120 affiliated clubs, just over 1,500 licences, nearly 30 professional matches organised since October 2020 without any issues, thanks to regulatory texts that allow us to work at ease, 690 trained Qualified educators and nearly 500 pass graders”.

“But the numbers don’t really reflect activity in the field, continued Lionel Brezephin. On the one hand, we started building in the spring of 2020, in the middle of Covid, so our first year was blank. We also have combat sports specificity. , generally licensed only for competitors. In the context of practice development, it is difficult to understand the benefits of licenses. Most licenses are for supervisors, professional and amateur players or those who want to pass the technical level, to ensure practice, and There is a progressive approach to teaching. But we haven’t known the exact amount of practice for actually fifteen years since the program opened.”

One thing is certain: it is developing in the four corners of France. “In the first part of the project, I set up workshops where people can submit applications if they want to be involved in the construction of the MMA. It’s amazing that we have people from all over France, even from places in France. Not by Called the battlefield. We have a homogeneous network of territories.

“We don’t need to go back”

Numbers aside, the overall development is moving in the right direction. “The structure is going in the right direction because we don’t need to go back and undo everything we’ve done so far, Lionel Brezephin continued. It takes time to build and we want to go faster now, but everything is working well. The purpose of the project It’s about making sure the practice, because that’s why it’s been stigmatized for years, and everything is done in directional safety. We’re pretty consistent about that. The medical system that accompanies the game, for example, is stable. It’s up to sports doctors to let- We do have high quality medical and safety oversight, managed by Marc Sene.”

The first tournament – the qualifiers for the Amateur World Championships – was organised in January at Evry-Courcouronnes, bringing together 100 athletes, “successful in three days using four cages simultaneously for more than 90 matches”, others It is planned for the end of 2022 after “competition in five geographic regions within a few months”. Enough for athletes to hone their skills with amateurs before entering the pros, as is often done in boxing, or as in the career of Manon Fiorot, the French boxer. The title race is not far away. Fly in the big UFC. “It’s the best way to ensure practice, Lionel Brezephin believes. It’s a recipe for experience and an effective way to get to a high level. In the UK, for example, it’s usually a road race that many amateurs follow, and then provide them with Very high quality professional mesh.”

Now, what are the further development goals of MMA in France? For the next two years, until Paris 2024, it will be possible to continue the work started through this confirmed FFB delegation. “Following important national programs, we have to create a structure in which we will have local and regional players who will be able to energize MMA in these programs,” announced Lionel Brezephin. There are also recreationally regulated parts of the practice and educational MMA, which is practiced for children, but also for women, which must be taken seriously. We have to be able to provide a certain number of elements to all who practice MMA, not only in competition but also in young people, school children, people with disabilities, etc. The development of mixed martial arts will go through this. “

According to IMMAF’s press release, FMMAF should receive “more support in terms of budget and human resources, which shows the confidence of the ministry and the recognition of the importance of MMA’s development in France”. Communication will also be a “priority” and “software solutions will be deployed for clubs and licensees within a few weeks,” according to a post by FMMAF on its Facebook page. A tool that will “in particular initiate federal training for coaches.” The tiered channel, launched in September 2020, will also be “available in different regions of France so that everyone can participate”. IMMAF President Kerrith Brown concluded: “This delegation’s renewal is a testament to the quality of the FFB’s work and commitment to our sport.”

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