The Finnish MMA Federation (FMMAF) or “Suomen Vapaaotteluliitto ry” stands true to its motto, “Be humble and work hard”. Despite achieving two gold medals and a bronze through their first participation at the World Championships in 2014, Finland wants to achieve yet more in 2015. Their credentials are good, so watch this space! However, there are also challenges ahead.
The number one objective for the Finnish MMA Federation, founded in 2004, has been to raise the awareness of MMA as a safe and regulated sport like any other in Finland. One big step was made in early 2015 when the Finnish Government formally recognised MMA and started to support the FMMAF. Still, they claim, there’s a lot of work to be done.
In the near future, the next step for the federation will be to organise their first national championships in order to gather athletes from all over Finland. With further opportunity to evaluate new talent, alongside that already known, fans can be sure that the Finns will arrive in Vegas later this year ready to claim their share of medals.
IMMAF journalist Caio Lemos caught up with Jukka Paananen:
Overall, how was 2014 for the Finnish MMA Federation?
2014 was a big year for FMMAF. We achieved two gold medals at the World Championships in Las Vegas, as well as one bronze medal. The amateur sport gained more fame after the international tournaments.
What do you feel was the greatest achievement of FMMAF since its beginning?
Since the beginning, I think the biggest achievement for our Federation and the sport has been that people, in general, have started to see MMA as a sport rather than as a violent fight. At beginning of 2015 the government accepted MMA as a sport and now we are receiving some small financial help from them.
Have there been any major difficulties that the federation has had to overcome so far?
I don’t think we have had any major obstacles in Finland. There will always be people who will find combat sports a brutal thing, but the more that people see MMA the more they will understand the sport.
What are your expectations for IMMAF’s World Championships this year?
I expect that the arrangements will be better this year and hope that everything goes more smoothly than in the first year. I think we all learned lessons in 2014. I expect the FMMAF to keep on going strongly to the podium too!
If you could name one lesson FMMAF has learned through its previous challenges, what would it be?
I think, one that is a very general lesson and which works across every area of life: Be humble and work hard – the reward will come at some point.
What’s next in store for Finland in 2015?
In 2015 we plan to retain our spots on the podium at the World Championships. We have our own National Championships coming up in the beginning of April, too. There is a lot of work to do for the sport, but we are ready to grow even more.
For more about the Finnish MMA Federation visit: http://www.vapaaottelu.fi/