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On International Women’s Day, it’s common for organizations to reflect on the past and draw attention to the incredible accomplishments women have made. However, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) fixed its attention on the future in 2020. This commission will help facilitate the growth of women in the sport, protect every woman and girl that competes and provide women with different opportunities. The commission is made up of four members: Hayzia Belem, Sharif Bapu, Veronika Nabaltska and Gosha Malik.

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Belem, the chair of the commission, hosted the first session and announced their goals. The commission wants to encourage women to practice MMA, promote gender equality, fight against harassment in combat sports, support women to develop their skills within MMA organizations, support women to gain leadership positions at IMMAF, show the financial benefits of promoting women in MMA, and empower women and girls through MMA.

The IMMAF Women’s Commission is determined to achieve these goals, but they will face obstacles along the way. “The main obstacle is to monitor the needs in every country. It goes through identifying female athletes, coaches, and referees, etc. and getting in touch with them to understand their needs,” Belem said.

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Throughout its history, women have helped change the landscape of MMA. Their talents and skills have played a big role in the rise of the sport’s popularity, which is why this commission was created. It’s important that MMA continues to support women MMA fighters.

Just nine years ago, UFC president Dana White said that a woman would never fight in the UFC. White’s outlook changed after he caught a glimpse of the impressive Ronda Rousey. In 2012, she became the first woman signed to the UFC, and with that, the revolution began. White then signed 30 other women to the UFC Women’s Bantamweight roster.  

Although female MMA fighters continue to change the sport, they are still fighting for equality, they sometimes face hyper-sexualization, gender prejudice and a lack of support. The IMMAF Women’s Commission is motivated to fight for their equality and create a strong communication network that will change the sport for the better. 

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