Athlete registration for the IMMAF Senior and Junior European Open Championships has opened ©IMMAF

Athlete registration has opened for this year's International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) Senior and Junior European Open Championships as the organisation prepares to return to the continent for the first time since 2019.

Kazan in Russia is scheduled to host the competition from August 16 to 20 and fighters from all over the world - and not just Europe - can enter.

It will be a key event for the IMMAF which is looking to return to a regular calendar after the COVID-19 hiatus.

Russia are expected to be strong on home soil as they currently rank second in the senior rankings and first in the juniors.

The country dominated the last European Open Championships two years ago, topping the senior and junior medal tables with an overall haul of 10 golds.

"The Russian Union sets a global benchmark in its achievements for MMA - from sport recognition, Government relations, its National Championships circuit, its participation numbers and talent pool, nationally supported team, world class talent and coaching, and commitment to IMMAF's international sports governance standards," said IMMAF President Kerrith Brown.

"Russia's earning of the hosting rights for IMMAF's 2021 European Championships is well deserved, and besides offering a premier level competition platform, Kazan provides a scenic and historic location complete with world heritage and cultural sites, for those who make the journey."

Last month, Russia's Ministry of Sports recognised MMA as an official sports discipline for women.

It means female athletes can now be officially selected with the full support of the Russian national team, on an equal basis with men.

The IMMAF said it had also partnered with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency to develop enhanced anti-doping activities for the event.

"I am sure that the European Open Championships 2021 will prove a real celebration of sportsmanship and it will unite participants from different countries even more around the ideas of sport, friendship and cooperation," said Russian MMA Union President Radmir Gabdullin.

"Given the impeccable reputation and experience of Kazan in hosting major international sporting events, I can assure all MMA athletes and fans that the most hospitable and cordial welcome awaits you in Kazan. 

"Kazan's sport venues are considered the best modern facilities, while its historical and cultural sites are famous all over the world for their inimitable beauty and authenticity. 

"We look forward to welcoming all the national teams and guests to the European Open Championships. 

"Thank you for helping us to make this tournament a reality."

Vadim Finkelchtein, the Honorary President of the IMMAF and the founder of the World Mixed Martial Arts Association, which merged with the IMMAF in 2018, added: "It's been a while since the International Federation has held an event in Russia and I couldn't be happier that this year, the Russian MMA Union will host it. 

"Ever since the last event they have become more experienced, their connection with the Russian Sports Ministry has grown even stronger and I am sure the event will be held to the highest standards. 

"We are looking forward to welcoming all IMMAF members to Russia. 

"Kazan is a unique location which will make the experience unforgettable."