The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has welcomed the United Arab Emirates as its newest member nation.
The country will be represented by the newly-formed UAE Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UAEMMAF) which is registered in Abu Dhabi.
It will serve as the official regulator and provider for both amateur and professional MMA in the UAE, and be responsible for its governance and technical development.
Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have already hosted major MMA events, while UAEMMAF President H.E Abdulmenem Al Hashmi is also the leader of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.
The UAEMMAF said it plans to promote the development of MMA in the UAE, both regionally and internationally, in tandem with jiu-jitsu.
Al Hashmi's other roles include chairman of the Ju-Jitsu Asian Union and vice-president of the Ju-Jitsu International Federation, while he is a black belt in the sport.
"We are very pleased to become a member of the very distinguished International Mixed Martial Arts Federation and we are certain we will be able to catapult the sport in our beloved UAE and the world as we did with the sport of jiu-jitsu," he said.
"Hence, on behalf of my colleagues and members of the Board of Directors, I want to congratulate IMMAF for their continued success in safeguarding and promoting the sport of MMA amongst many other achievements.
"Today, our beloved UAE has become a destination for MMA, and Abu Dhabi has been referred to as the new capital city of MMA and it is also the world capital city of jiu-jitsu.
"We are determined to build on this success and disseminate the sport of MMA across all facets and tiers of our communities."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has held a series of MMA events on "Fight Island" - the name given to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
"The joining of the UAEMMAF marks a turning point for the further development of MMA in the Middle East, expanding on the significant footprint already laid by the Bahrain Mixed Martial Arts Federation as driven by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad and Mohammed Shahid," said IMMAF President Kerrith Brown.
"It also opens the door for some exciting opportunities which we look forward to evolving with our new member."
Wissam Abi Nader, an IMMAF Board director and the regional director for Asia, added: "I'm really happy to see the UAE Mixed Martial Arts Federation join the IMMAF family.
"The UAE is a pioneering country in the Middle East for the hosting of largescale MMA events, such as the UFC.
"And now, in the eyes of many, it is becoming the world capital for MMA following the groundbreaking UFC Fight Island events.
"We've witnessed huge success for the sport of jiu-jitsu in the territory, under the leadership of H.E Abdulmenem Al Hashmi, and I'm confident that the sport of MMA is in safe hands under his patronage and his team."