Brazil’s CABMMA report on UFC sanctioning

Following the completion of UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro on Aug.1, Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) Executive Director Cristiano Sampaio provided detailed insight into the achievements of CABMMA and their relationship with the UFC, including sanctioning activities and protocols from the event.

Medicals prior to weigh-ins

Usually in the morning, the Medical Committee does the pre fight medical exams on all athletes, basically to analyse their vital signs (heart, pulse, lungs), potential skin disease, any cuts or medications etc, as well as to go over any questions about the fight.

We ask all fighters for exams including, Hepatitis B/ Hepatitis C, HIV, complete blood count (CBC), MRA/MRI, physical, eye, pregnancy (women) and, for athletes over 35 years of age, we ask also for urine, chest x-ray and Electrocardiogram (EKG). This has to be sent to the commission at least 10 days before the fight.

A last check on their weight will be done before the official weigh-in which is always early afternoon. At the weigh-ins we check their weights to see if they are all on their weight according to their license and contract with the promoter. After that is over, a doctor from the commission will stay at the hotel at all times with the fighters in case of any emergency, especially to manage any issues arising from competition weight cutting. This is standard for any event regulated by CABMMA, UFC or local/small events in Brazil.

Fight night duties

(i) A total of 4 Medical/ringside physicians will work (one in each corner) during the fight and are responsible at all times for the athlete. After the fight is completed, they will take the fighter for a post fight evaluation to check for possible injuries.They will apply any arising medical suspensions, pertaining to the number of days before contact and competition are permitted again based on estimated recovery times

(ii) Two additional medics will work only in the backstage area to assist the ringside physicians and will carry out the work on any athletes that need assistance (e.g. stitching) or who need to be assisted to hospital. 

(iii) Two independent drug testers, certified by WADA, are present to carry out pre fight drug tests, usually urine tests, on the athletes as selected by the commission. 

(iv) A total of 8 inspectors are onsite to guarantee that all athletes are respecting the rules of the sport and following the safety protocols of the commission. They will work in the backstage and ringside areas. All are certified and exclusive to CABMMA and cannot work for any other commission or federation in Brazil. 

(v) The timekeeper is certified and exclusive to CABMMA and cannot work for any other commission or federation in Brazil.

(vi) A total of 5 Judges are all certified, local officials who are exclusive to CABMMA. Likewise, they also cannot work for any other commission or federation in Brazil.

(vii) The three referees booked for the event are all certified, local officials who are exclusive to CABMMA. They too cannot work for any other commission or federation in Brazil.

To clarify, our local officials are exclusive and can only work for us because we strive to implement what we believe is best for the sport; and  so it does not make sense for this same professional to work with an event or federation that does not follow our modus operandi. E.g. –

We cannot put our work at risk by having any official of ours in a situation such as was covered in this article. It would be a conflict of interests. In that particular case the promoter had enlisted another MMA Federation (Federação Catarinense de MMA) to work with the event, and this was the outcome. Comissão Atlética Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA) cannot let its officials be associated with a situation like that.

Relationship between CABMMA and the UFC

For three years we have been regulating the UFC in Brazil. We are the only entity in Brazil that regulates independent MMA events. All other entities do not have that role and operate more in a federation aspect of holding championships, running ranking systems etc.

The UFC was seeking an entity at that time which could take on the sanctioning role. We started slowly, from ground zero, learning from international officials, physicians, having Marc Ratner (UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs) as a mentor and other professionals that would come with the UFC to work in Brazil.

Our standards were set high from the beginning which we thought was the most efficient and safest way to execute the work of regulating of an event. It was a step by step process, but within one year the commission had established a full body and was ready to commence its role with the UFC and other local promoters.

We believe that regulation is a constant learning and evolving process, striving for the qualification of officials and for protocols and rules that will enable the sport grow in a safe and professional environment.

What has been the most difficult hurdle?

The Medical requirements, which before we started were not demanded by promoters and other federations.

What has been CABMMA’s proudest moment?

Everything! CABMMA has made a huge change to MMA in Brazil through its introduction of medicals, suspensions, qualified officials, education and through our exclusive role in regulation. The sport is becoming safer and more professional. Last July we became affiliated with the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC), an association of the athletic commissions based in the US which has over 50 members. We are the first international entity to be a part of it, having our events, results, medicals, suspensions, drug test results and officials all officially recognized.  One outcome is that a fighter suspended in the US will not fight in Brazil. All information is unified in one database,,  which all members have access to.

The progression of the CABMMA has been terrifically versatile and Chairman Rafael Favetti recently met with IMMAF President Kerrith Brown to discuss replicating the CABMMA model.

Our Chairman, Rafael Favetti, discussed our role in Brazil, government relations, amateur MMA and MMA for kids in schools (related more to education than competition) in addition to the possibility of us replicating our model to other countries that need/seek a regulation body for MMA, especially in Latin and South America. In that sense we could create a possible “arm” of IMMAF, a Pan American Association of MMA Federations.

Below is a by-the-numbers breakdown of last year´s CABMMA results:

Number of promoters affiliated: 6 national, 1 International (UFC)

Number of events sanctioned: 17

Number of states in which events were sanctioned: 7

Number of cities in which events were sanctioned: 14

Total number of athletes affiliated: 305

Total number of referees affiliated: 43

Total number of judges affiliated: 27

Total number of cutmen affiliated: 10

Total number of inspectors affiliated: 23

Total number of timekeepers affiliated: 4

Total number of ringside physicians affiliated: 8

Total number of medical exams analyzed: over 1,900

Total number of drug tests carried out at national events: 26

Total number of drug tests carried out at UFC events: 158

Total number of post-fight suspensions applied: 305

Total number of training courses for inspectors: 6 courses in 6 states

Total number of training courses for timekeepers: 4 courses in 4 states

Total number of training courses for refs/judges: 5 in 2 states

Total number of  training courses for ringside physicians: 1 in 1 state

Total number of  training courses for cutmen: 1 in 1 state

For more information about the CABMMA visit




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