The State of MMA in South Africa

Written by on March 31, 2019

With the South African National Championships less than a week away, I truly have to wonder about the state of the sport in South Africa and I think that IMMAF should be too.

Looking at the recent fight cards of the few sanctioned Amateur promotions around Gauteng, namely Fightstars, EWC, RAW and GFC, highlights that for the most part it is practically the same athletes that are fighting on a monthly basis.

Recent discussions with athletes and gym owners leads me to believe that the real number of new young athletes joining the many MMA gyms across the country is slowing, if not falling. Add to this the number of amateur athletes with meagre records that are suddenly turning professional and you have a situation where the bucket is starting to drain faster than it can be filled!

The development of the sport from a female involvement seems to have ground to a halt, with firstly; no new young female athletes being “blooded” on any fight card in the past year. Secondly, female champions are having to wait a year to defend their titles forcing them to find fights in other disciplines like kickboxing and boxing. Finally, how many female officials are currently gaining experience and moving through the “ranks”? In fact, how many females have actually attended “Official & Referee” developmental training sessions? I am personally only aware of one!

On the subject of MMA training and development. This writer has personally attended an MMASA certified First Aid course as well as the “Officials & Referee Training Course” and despite completing both along with the respective practical and theoretical evaluations, I like many of those that paid for and attended these courses, am still waiting to find out from MMASA if I have passed. To make matters worse, the First Aid Course was completed more than a year ago!

In conclusion and most alarming of all, in my opinion, is the fact that last evening while in attendance at SFL5 – an Amateur/Professional Kickboxing event held in Gauteng, South Africa – I watched as the MMASA President, Bertus Coetzee sat enjoying the the 14 fights on the ever-improving Supreme Fight League fight card. Now on the surface, you would wonder why I raise this seemingly pointless fact and ready yourself to fire-off some vengeful comment about how I am being a bit alarmist. Consider the following for just one moment; on the very same night that this 14 fight kickboxing event was unfolding in Rivonia, an amateur MMA event – that ultimately consisted of only 9 fights, down from its original 15 fights – was taking place in Florida on the West Rand and the man whose responsibility it is to build and grow the sport of MMA in South Africa chooses to watch kickboxing instead! WTF!!

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