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Like boxing, mixed martial arts was also introduced in ancient Greece for the training of their armies. During the time, it was seen as a combination of wrestling, boxing, and street fighting.
The sport was initially conducted as a brutal sport with no rules, also known by the name of pankration. However, a set of rules and regulations were gradually initiated in MMA, which made it one of the fastest-growing spectator sports in the early 21st century.
MMA: A New Sporting Sensation in India
Due to the increased popularity of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the 21st century. Different organizations across various continents have been promoting the sport at different levels.
Promotions such as UFC, ONE Championship, Bellator MMA, Absolute Championship, and more have played a major role in making the sport relevant for the modern-day audience.
However, due to a lack of understanding and institutional stability in the sub-continent, India has faced several challenges in the field of mixed martial arts over the decades.
Introduction and Growth of MMA
In 2012, Super Fight League was introduced in India by Sanjay Dutt and Raj Kundra. However, due to the low interest of the Indian audience as well as lacklustre action, the MMA promotion was officially disbanded in 2018. Since then, Super Fight League has been active on a small scale with minimal interest from the audience.
Nevertheless, Matrix Fight Night has emerged as the triumphant successor of the Super Fight League. It was formed in 2019 by Bollywood actor Tiger Shroff, and his mother Ayesha Shroff. Since its inception, MFN has produced Indian MMA stars such as Anshul Jubli, Pawan Maan Singh, Vikas Singh Ruhil, and Puja Tomar.
Challenges and milestones
The sport of MMA revolves utterly around the fitness and endurance of an athlete. The fighters have to train and prepare for months to compete in a single fight. While preparing for a fight and completely focusing on the practice, lack of funds has always hindered India’s growth. Consequently, the lack of quality coaches as well as managers has also been a major aspect behind the failure of Indian MMA.
In 2017, Bharat Kandare became the first Indian to sign a contract with UFC. He lost his first match on the global stage against Yadong Song at UFC Fight Night 122. Moreover, he never made his UFC pay-per-view debut because he failed a drug test and suffered from a two-year ban. Earlier this year, Anshul Jubli became the first Indian fighter to brawl at a UFC pay-per-view.
Indian MMA Fighters in the Octagon
Despite failing to function on a long-term scale, the Super Fight League still managed to give India a few big names in the world of mixed martial arts. The likes of Mohammed Farhad, Manjit Kolekar, and Priyanka Jeet Toshi rose to prominence during their time in SFL.
Profiles of top Indian MMA fighters
Only two fighters from India have managed to sign a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship yet. Earlier this month, it was announced that Puja Tomar will become the first Indian woman to reach the memorable peak.
At UFC 294, Anshul Jubli became the first Indian man to step into the octagon of UFC pay-per-view. Unfortunately, Jubli’s fight ended with a knockout in the third round against USA’s Mike Breeden.
Their achievements and challenges
Anshul was born in Uttarakhand, and his father was in BSF. As a result, he had to shift with his family every three years. At the age of 17, he was introduced to MMA for the first time, and since then, he has never looked back.
With a staggering record of 13-0 in amateur MMA, Jubli decided to turn professional. Consequently, in March 2023, he won the road to UFC and signed a contract with the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world.
Tomar became a famous name in the world of combat sports after she won the strawweight title at the Matrix Fight Night 12 against Russia’s Anastasia Feofanova. She has also announced that she will soon sign a contract with UFC with the help of MFN and its president Ayesha Shroff.
The Future of MMA in India
India made its much-awaited debut on the biggest stage of MMA, and the near future of Indian MMA seems bright.
Earlier this month, Jubli faced Mike Breeden at UFC 294: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski 2. However, the information about his next fight is yet to be announced by the promotion. Similarly, Tomar’s debut date or contract signing is also undisclosed.
The role of MMA promotions in India
The MMA promotions play a crucial role in making a fighter ready for further challenges. MMA is yet to be introduced as a sport at the grassroots level in India. Hence, without any exposure at the state or national level, promotions are the only thing that can help a fighter rise in the rankings. Matrix Fight Night is currently the most popular and successful promotion in India.
Betting Tips for MMA Enthusiasts
Just like any other combat sport, fans usually enjoy betting on MMA. However, due to the complexity and the unpredictability of the game, the bets can have trackless results.
Decoding fighter styles and records
There are four fighting styles in MMA:
- Boxing: Boxing is among the most common fighting styles in MMA. The majority of ‘strikers’ step into the octagon with a background in boxing. One must have seen Conor McGregor, Anderson Silva, and Nick Diaz using their boxing techniques inside the octagon.
- Kickboxing: Unlike boxing, kickboxing allows a fighter to use their legs, body, and head to attack the opponent, which is also legal in mixed martial arts. Alex Pereira, Cedric Doumbe, and Israel Adesanya are some of the best kickboxers in the MMA world.
- Muay Thai: A step up to Kickboxing, in Muay Thai, fighters can also use their elbows and knees to attack the opponent, which increases the possibility of the match ending with a knockout. Jon Jones, Jose Aldo, and Edson Barboza have been seen using the techniques of Muay Thai inside the ring.
- Wrestling: After boxing, wrestling is arguably the second most common fighting style in MMA. All the grapplers in MMA come from the background of wrestling or have learned the combat sport sometime during their practice. Khabib Nurmagomedov, Georges St-Pierre, and Daniel Cormier are some fighters who deploy this style.
Strategies for successful MMA betting
For successful betting in MMA, research and understanding of the sport is the inaugural step. Before betting, the booker should be aware of all the outcomes of the fight as well as the bet.
There are three types of bets in MMA: the method of victory, the round in which the match ends, and the score in a unanimous decision, with all bets usually settled after the final result.
One can never get all the bets right because exceptions are always available in every aspect of sports. Hence, analysis and research can help you gain confidence while placing the bet.