Mixed martial arts has cleared yet another hurdle toward universal acceptance, as the sport will become legal in France beginning next year.
Roxana Maracineau, the counry’s minister of sport, recently announced on Twitter that France will end its MMA beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.
“As of January 1, 2020, #MMA will officially exist as a professional and amateur sports practice in France within the framework of defined by @Sports_gouv in harmony with the international landscape of this discipline,” Maracineau wrote.
Maracineau added that a delegated sports federation will be selected to oversee MMA in France. Candidates to regulate MMA in the country include existing federations for muay Thai and kickboxing, karate, judo and French boxing and wrestling, according to French outlet Le Parisien. A final decision on a governing body for MMA will be made on Dec. 31, and the selected organization will have a two-year contract to regulate MMA in France.
The number of mixed martial artists living in France is estimated at 40,000, according to the report.
"This is an important moment for MMA players in France and French sports," Maracineanu told Le Parisien. "For many years France had been an exception. This reality had to be taken into account in order to better supervise and apprehend it.”
For years, the ban on MMA in France has been believed to be the work of the French Judo Association, as ground strikes, elbow strikes and competing in a cage were all illegal in the country. The ban was upheld as recently as 2016.
Prominent fighters with ties to France include Francis Ngannou, Cheick Kongo, Nordine Taleb, Tom Duquesnoy, Karl Amousou, Christian M’Pumbu, Cyrille Diabate and Francis Carmont, to name a few.