The Russian Ministry of Sports has recognised MMA as an official sports discipline for women. The announcement was made by Radmir Gabdullin, President of the Russian MMA Union, which is affiliated to the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF).
Russia’s female MMA athletes will now have the opportunity to be officially selected for and full supported within the amateur national team on an equal basis with men. They can also now accomplish “Master of Sport” titles in MMA.
The President of the Russian MMA Union, Gabdullin stated:
“I want to congratulate all involved with this long-awaited event, which provides a milestone and is the important result of much hard and painstaking work. A special thanks to the Ministry of Sports for the support of our sport and the opportunity to develop it at the official level.
“This sport is practised in many other countries and of course it’s more difficult for our teams to compete at the world level. It does not mean that our girls are weak, but there are countries with many years of amateur female competition experience. Under a “test” mode, female athletes have already participated in the Championship of Russia in 2019 and we took them to the [IMMAF] European and World Championships. We are lagging behind in this regard, but all in good time. I think that this year we will have the highest level of selection and we will form the women’s MMA team for the [IMMAF] World and Continental Championships.”
The first women’s national championships of the Russian MMA Union took place in 2019 with stand-out champions, such as Viktoriya Dudakova, who advanced to join the national team to win the gold medal at the 2019 IMMAF European Open in Rome. The development followed impressive precedents set by Svetlana Kotova and Polina Kobzeva, who had represented Russia and earned medals at the IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships in 2018.
Now with the opportunity to earn equal support and funding as that given to their male counterparts on the Russian national team, the number of female participants in amateur MMA is expected to increase across the country, giving a significant boost to the already prominent team. The Russian senior team currently holds 2nd place in the IMMAF World Amateur MMA Rankings, while the nation’s junior team occupies the first place.
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown commented:
“This sets a truly exciting benchmark for Russia’s female participants in MMA, and I am proud of the work carried out by our National Federation in Russia to progress gender equity in our sport. In 2017, the IMMAF World Championships saw Bahrain enter its first female athletes into international combats ports competition with Fatema Bureshaid and Hend Rezk, and it is again inspiring to see barriers to entry for women being removed by our federations as we strive to make MMA a sport for all.
“Gender equality is a high priority at IMMAF, and we have demonstrated our commitment with the launch of a Women’s MMA Commission in 2020 which has been highly effective in engaging women across grassroots MMA in many IMMAF nations, headed by chairwoman Hayzia Bellem. We commend the work of our members to progress this cause.