By Dane McGuire, U.S. Correspondent
The United States Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UMMAF) announced on August 3 a new partnership with affiliate body, the United States Fight League (USFL). The USFL is a sanctioning organization with the aim of getting youths involved in MMA and its predecessor, Pankration.
Georgia’s Chase Boutwell (pictured above, left) is currently the youngest U.S. national champion in MMA at 18 years of age, as IMMAF competitors must 18+. However, “a youth development program is a requirement for presenting MMA to International Olympic Committee for inclusion to the Olympic program,” a major goal of the IMMAF.
The biggest concern about having minors involved in combat sports is, of course, safety. USFL President Jon Frank said of the organization’s track record, “At present the USFL has an average rate of 15 minor injuries per 1000 athletic exposures, with zero concussions, much lower than the average for adult competition.”
Since October of 2014, the new developmental arm of the UMMAF has overseen roughly 400 youth bouts.
The USFL was approved to oversee youth MMA, Grappling and Pankration by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) which was responsible for leading the way in bringing additional weight divisions to the sport of MMA, plus more recommendations recently approved by the overall Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC).
While major organizations are not mandated to implement the ABC’s practices, they are largely followed by the UFC, and other promotions.
USFL weight classes are as follows, according to their official website:
● Under 50lbs: 5lbs max differential
● 50 to 90lbs: 7lbs max differential
● 90 to 140lbs: 10lbs max differential
● 140 to 170lbs: 15lbs max differential
● 170 to 220lbs: 20lbs max differential
● Athletes under 10 yrs may have a maximum of 5lb weight differential.
● Weight groups have an allowable age spread of 2 years.
● Certain waivers to increase parameters in age by 3 years may be considered, specifically for older high school age groups.
Rules are divided into classes as well: Grappling Only (all ages,) Limited Contact (all ages,) and Full Contact (18+, international tournaments only). Per the CSAC, concussion and dehydration education is also mandatory. Additionally, Athletes must have also reached the age of eight before being allowed to register with the USFL. Competitors are ranked by the USFL as teams using the following criteria:
Win = 3 points, Win via submission = 6 points, Draw = 2 points, 1 point for stepping up to fight.
“Athletes can only represent one team for team rankings. There is a two-point team penalty for each athlete who misses weight by more than 1 pound. Teams/athletes without a licensed coach on record will be listed as unattached.”
As of July 22, below are the top five USFL-ranked youth teams:
1. Riverside Submission: 173 points
2. Adrenaline MMA: 36 points
3. House of Moons: 35 points
4. Grappler’s Studio: 29 points
5. Strength and Honor: 28 points