Russian mixed martial artists will continue to be ineligible for International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) events in 2023, as confirmed by an IMMAF source. The ban on Russian participation was first introduced in March of the previous year, citing the country’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
When asked whether Russians would be permitted to compete internationally, the IMMAF source responded that “no such decision is planned for 2023.”
Vadim Finkelstein, the honorary president of the IMMAF, expressed his desire to see Russian athletes return to the international stage. He noted that there were no objections to Russian fighters in general. However, Finkelstein suggested that the IMMAF was reluctant to reinstate them due to concerns about the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) response.
Finkelstein explained, “I am a member of the IMMAF administration, and I have been saying for a long time that it is high time to bring back Russian athletes. On the whole, there are no objections against the Russians. But they [the IMMAF] want to be recognized by the IOC and are afraid that this could complicate things.”
In a separate development, Dana White UFC, announced on October 8 that his organization had lifted the ban on athletes competing under their national flags. This policy was first implemented when Russia invaded Ukraine but White declined to ever explicitly confirm is much, instead offering an obtuse ‘why do you think’.
The UFC made the decision to ban the Russian flag at its events in the spring of 2022. This restriction has now been reversed, permitting stars to display their national flags.
At the UFC Vegas 80 press conference, White shed light on the initial ban’s motivations.
He said: “There’s a lot of things that go on in a company this big and you can’t micromanage everything and sometimes things are done for the intentions of the right reasons. Everybody in this room knows the way that I feel about a lot of things, basically, I don’t give a f*** is the answer to most things.”
White went on to express his candid perspective: “Everybody’s too soft, everybody’s too sensitive about everything. When the decision was made to do this, I was kind of like ‘meh, you know, what’s the big deal if they don’t have flags’, Mexican Independence Day flipped the switch for me and I was like ‘that’s enough, I’m done with the no flags.’ If any flags hurt your feelings, too f***in bad.”