The United States Mixed Martial Arts Federation has announced its resignation from IMMAF while under a provisional suspension. On the heels of an email from the IMMAF CEO Densign White stating that UMMAF would not be allowed to participate in a democratic process by presenting its case in front of the voting members of IMMAF at the 2021 General Assembly, UMMAF has decided to part ways with the organization entirely.
After being provisionally suspended from IMMAF and placed into a Special Measures status, UMMAF undertook a series of organizational changes. These changes were meant to bring UMMAF out of Special Measures and set UMMAF on a course for reinstatement. IMMAF concluded that UMMAF did not meet the criteria set forth in the Special Measures and that the suspension would remain in place, pending a General Assembly vote to expel UMMAF.
UMMAF petitioned the IMMAF Arbitration Committee to contest the suspension stating that IMMAF had gone beyond their authority in suspending UMMAF. The Arbitration Committee in their ruling stated
“It is a well-established principle both under English law and that provisional suspensions imposed as a matter of good governance do not require strict compliance with the laws of natural justice and in CAS jurisprudence that the rules of fairness do not require a hearing before such a suspension.”
“Were UMMAF challenging a decision to expel it from IMMAF criticism could undoubtably be made of the lack of opportunity for UMMAF to present its case and justifiably so. However, that decision has not been made, it is one that IMMAF’s General Assembly will make in due course if the suspension continues, and the matter is placed before it. “
“ This issue was brought to the attention of both parties during the hearing, which resulted in both requesting that the Committee effectively determine whether UMMAF’s expulsion as a member would be justified. In the Committee’s view it would be wrong to make any such determination as it would prejudge a decision that it for the General Assembly to make and it declines to do so. “
“ The Committee therefore confines itself to reminding IMMAF that such a final decision to expel should comply with the requirements of natural justice and fairness, which are likely to demand that UMMAF be given an opportunity to present its case before the decision is made. The Committee does not feel it appropriate to seek to make recommendations as to how that opportunity is manifested.”
Considering these comments made by the IMMAF Arbitration Committee, UMMAF President Ryan Brueggeman then reached out to IMMAF CEO Densign White to determine how UMMAF would be allowed to present its case to the General Assembly, as stated by the Arbitration Committee. The IMMAF CEO replied stating that no member of UMMAF would be allowed to address the assembly before a vote for removal.
UMMAF President Ryan Brueggeman stated, “We are very disappointed in the conduct of IMMAF during this entire process. It is clear that IMMAF has no intention of following the laws of natural justice. IMMAF has a responsibility to democracy within the federation, and to deny any federation an opportunity to present itself to the voting membership goes against the most basic democratic principles. After a brief exchange with the IMMAF CEO, I was informed that IMMAF intended to utilize the Arbitration Judgement report to inform the IMMAF General Assembly of IMMAF and UMMAF’s position, however as noted by the Arbitration Committee suspension does not have to comply with the laws of natural justice nor is a hearing required before suspension. The criteria for expulsion of a federation should however carry a more strict and democratic criteria.”
Asked about UMMAF’s future, Brueggeman was optimistic. “Our membership base is growing, at the club and individual levels. Our sanctioning activity is growing as is our database of officials. We are currently in the process of identifying another international organization to become a part of for international competition and to help that organization grow with the same guidance we provided IMMAF in the early years. Currently we have two options we are looking at. The basis for that decision will come down to what’s best for the athletes and coaches. Ideally, we would like to become members of an international body where the costs for an athlete to compete and coaches to attend aren’t as high as those of IMMAF where the costs per athlete can be as much as $900 or more. Coaches typically pay a bit less, but in any case, it can be cost prohibitive for many amateur athletes when you also factor in flights etc.”
UMMAF’s commitment to providing affordable sanctioning, club membership with exclusive benefits for our members as well as insurance discounts for promotors wishing to hold events has never been stronger. We are also in the planning stages for the UMMAF National Team to return to Cuba and other destinations for international competition.
When asked about UMMAF’s potential replacement in the IMMAF Federation, Brueggeman said; “I’m sure IMMAF has a plan in place for that already, as they have made mention of another organization already. If it comes to pass, we wish whoever that organization is much success. I just hope that they do their diligence on the costs involved to their organization, athletes, and coaches to be a part of IMMAF because they are significant. Moving forward though, UMMAF’s goal is to provide for competition that doesn’t cause amateur athletes and coaches to go broke. IMMAF follows a system based on Olympic competition and there are many examples of athletes in the United States going broke to purse Olympic dreams. It’s a system that needs to be overhauled and that’s what UMMAF intends to do moving forward.”