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France to legalize MMA in January 2020

Francis Ngannou
France’s Francis Ngannou at a UFC open workout
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Fans could be one step closer to seeing the Octagon land in France.

On Monday, minister of sport Roxana Maracineanu announced the formation of a committee to oversee the legalization of MMA in France, which is expected to become official on Jan. 1, 2020, per Agence France-Presse.

As it stands, the plan is for one of the existing French athletic federations to submit proposals to become responsible for sanctioning MMA at both the amateur and professional level. That list reportedly includes four organizations that oversee the following sports: kickboxing and Muay Thai, wrestling, judo, and savate (French boxing). The Federation Sportive et Gymnique du Travail, a multi-sports organization, will also be considered.

Proposals will be due on Sept. 27. The contract for the selected organization will last two years.

UFC senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein addressed the news, noting that the UFC plans to assist in the deliberation.

“UFC welcomes today’s announcement by the Ministry of Sports, which is the first step in officially recognizing MMA and integrating the sport into the French sports ecosystem,” Epstein said in a statement (h/t ESPN). “We will closely follow the progress of the consultation period and pay particular attention to the respect of the integrity of MMA and preservation of its rules by the host federation.

“We put our global MMA expertise at the disposal of the authorities to make this process a collective construction.”

One of France’s most popular MMA representatives, Francis Ngannou, competes in the main event of UFC Minneapolis this Saturday and his coach Fernand Lopez expressed his excitement over the decision on social media:

“Here we are,” Lopez wrote. “On January 1, 2020, we will have our MMA.”

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