The English MMA Association (EMMAA) is still in its infancy, but Rosi Sexton has big plans for how to shape the future of mixed martial arts in the U.K.
Sexton, who was recently elected as a Green Party councilor in the Shirley West Ward of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, elaborated on how the EMMAA came together. “It all started with a phone call from Marc Goddard. He called me up one day and said, ‘I know we’ve talked about this sort of thing before and I know there have been a lot of things going on, but I’m giving one last ditch attempt to make this happen... Would you be involved?’” Sexton told Bloody Elbow. “It’s something the U.K. mixed martial arts scene has been crying out for a long time. It’s something I think is very important going forward,” she continued. “It’s something I believe in.”
“We’re still figuring out what individual roles will look like. One of the things I’ve done a lot of over the years is talking to the media and talking to people outside of the sport. Explaining what the sport is about and presenting it in a positive light. When I got involved in martial arts, everyone used to call it cage fighting. Nobody really knew what it was about and thought it was two violent thugs locked in a cage pulling each other’s arms off. That is the picture a lot of these media outlets wanted to present,” Sexton said. “This is a legitimate combat sport. There are rules, it’s regulated — not as regulated as we want it to be, that’s why we’re here.”
One of the EMMAA’s long-term goals is to get the sport into the Olympics; however, Sexton says it is more about fostering amateur growth for the sport. “If we’re going to be talking about potentially getting Sport England recognition and getting this sport to a place where we’re recognized as a national governing body, that is something I can potentially bring to the table,” she shared. “The focus isn’t so much on the Olympics itself as an event. It’s about having that recognition of mixed martial arts as a sport and having that format at a grass roots level. So that youngsters coming through can participate in and aim for.”
“Not everyone gets into MMA to be a professional fighter. Not everyone wants to go on and have a UFC career. A lot of these youngsters coming through the sport and getting involved want to challenge themselves and have the opportunity to compete. They want to do it in a safe and controlled environment,” Sexton insisted. “Giving them the opportunity to do that and having that amateur that is recognize throughout the world — I think that’s very important.”
Another goal for the association is to develop a national rankings system. “From the point of view of national champions and international championships moving forwards, we’re going to need some means of team selection and some recognized system. If you want athletes to take these goals seriously and for it to be something people really want to aim for, we need a structured means for people to get there. So people know what they need to do to achieve those things,” Sexton explained. “The idea that these things should be done in as fair and unbiased way as possible. People from all different backgrounds, no matter what team they train with or where they come from, they have the opportunities to compete for their place.”
Other members of the EMMAA include referees Goddard and Leon Roberts, former fighter and analyst Dan Hardy, and MMA judge Paul Sutherland.