Coach John Kavanagh fronts MMA charge in China

London, July 4, 2018: Wujie Sports and SBG Ireland have signed a three-year deal that will see Conor McGregor’s coach and IMMAF Coaching Committee consultant, Coach John Kavanagh, head up a programme for the coaching of China’s top professional MMA competitors (Coach John Kavanagh).

Kavanagh is head of SBG Ireland gyms franchise and also stands as the President of the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association under IMMAF.

Under the agreement SBG Ireland will, on a monthly basis, supply MMA coaches to four regions in China that sit under the China International Mixed Martial Arts Federation – Yunnan region, Henan region, Sichuan region and the Northern region.

SBG will also offer an exchange programme that will see Chinese MMA athletes travel to Dublin on training camps.

The goal is to initially raise the level of MMA at the professional end in China, and the profile of Chinese athletes internationally to spearhead the growth and appeal of the sport.

At the same time, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and the China International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (CIMMAF) will be working to implement IMMAF’s Talent Development Pathway for MMA Coaches and Athletes at a grassroots level, led by IMMAF’s new Director of Development, Andrew Moshanov.

MMA has mushroomed in popularity across martial arts gyms in China but lacks experienced coaches.

The deals have crystallized in the run up to the 2018 IMMAF Asian Open Championships and Junior World Championships which are set to take place in Beijing from September 3 to 8.

Coach John Kavanagh said:

“Ever since I was a boy I had a huge interest in Bruce Lee films and all things martial arts.

To now invite out to help the Chinese coaches and fighters improve their level in MMA is a great honor and dream come true.

I’d especially like to thank IMMAF President Kerrith Brown and CIMMAF President Wei for making this possible.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:

“With China’s population of 1.4 billion, the country has a vast potential, untapped market for MMA.

It is a country with a long martial arts tradition and great depth of talent, but younger Chinese participants are gravitating towards MMA.

This presents a fantastic opportunity for IMMAF and CIMMAF to implement a safe pathway for participants and proper governance while MMA is still in its infancy there.

The China International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (CIMMAF) was founded in 2016 by NGO, the China Yunnan International Cultural Exchange Foundation, which has been in operation since 1986 to strength Yunnan province’s economic and technological ties with international markets (Coach John Kavanagh).

Established for the development and regulation of MMA in China, CIMMAF has since grown arms and gained governmental support in four regions of China – Yunnan region, Henan region, Sichuan region and the Northern region.


The first person to bring BJJ into Ireland, John has made a name for himself as a competitor winning gold at the European Championships 2006 and is a world-class Coach John Kavanagh.

In 2001 while fighting in Africa John met Matt Thorton of SBGi and a firm friendship and business partnership began.

The training ethos of SBG really impressed John and the message that athletes and non-athletes could train side by side is one he continues to promote through his SG gyms in Ireland.

Most renowned as coach of UFC fighter, Conor McGregor, John has coached, cornered and trained with many great names of MMA and BJJ, and many greats of MMA have passed through the SBG doors;

BJ Penn, Shaolin, Chris Brennan, Ryan Hall, Minotauro, Saulo Riberio, Xande Riberio, Rory Singer, Ed Herman, Jeff Monson, Ian Freeman, Leigh Remedios, Ian Butlin, Ricardo Liborio, Shane Rice, Thomas Egan to name a few.

Kavanagh sits on the IMMAF Coaching Committee and also stands as the President of the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association under IMMAF. —- IMMAF

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