Abu Dhabi is set to stage the IMMAF Youth World Championships ©IMMAF

The standard of the upcoming International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) Youth MMA World Championships is set to increase after a lift in the minimum technical level required for entry into the competition. 

The event is scheduled to take place from tomorrow until August 20 in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi.

There are six grades for youth athletes - yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown - with mid-grades on each.

The level has increased to orange for 14 to 17-year-old athletes while it will remain at yellow for those between 12 and 13 years of age.

The draws are due to be split into three age groups and the IMMAF's Unified Rules have been modified "with respect to the developmental stage and safety of each age group as advised by IMMAF's medical, coaching, and regulatory affairs committees."

The key ruling is that head strikes are illegal for competitors under the age of 18.

Competition is due to begin tomorrow with the youth C category, for 12 to 13-year-olds, before the entirety of the youth B, 14 to 15-year-olds, competition takes place on August 18.

Youth A, for 16 to 17-year-olds, is then split over the final two days.

The women athletes are split into six different weight classes while there are eight for the men.

"After hosting IMMAF's flagship event back in January, we are thrilled to host this year's IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi," said chairman of the UAE Mixed Martial Arts Committee Mohamed Dalmouj Al Dhaheri.

"The event represents a strategic priority for the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation, and our purpose is to empower and cultivate a new generation of highly-skilled and qualified MMA athletes.

"We look forward to hosting the world again in Abu Dhabi this summer and supporting IMMAF in their continuous efforts for youth development and elevation of Amateur MMA."

The 2021 Youth World Championships attracted 331 athletes from 23 nations to Bulgaria despite continued COVID-19 lockdowns and restricted travel for many countries.

With lockdowns now lifted and a move of location, organisers are expecting participation from a larger spread of nations.