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An Iconic MMA hero is needed from India -- In Coversation with FCC founder Prashanth Kumar

FULL CONTACT CHAMPIONSHIP (FCC), India’s longest running professional MMA fight network is all set to roll out their latest event, FCC 13 on July 9th. The event which takes place at the Basketball Indoor stadium in Indore has a stacked card. Ahead of the event, I managed to catch up with Prashanth Kumar, who is the founder and director of FCC, for an exclusive interview.

Prashanth Kumar

A qualified lawyer, Prashanth is an expert in MMA with more than two decades of experience in disciplines like Taekwondo, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai. During the interview, he talked about FCC 13, the future of MMA in India, Manjit Kolekar and much more. Below is the transcript from the same.

Challenges faced by FCC

One of the common concerns before every show, especially with a sport like MMA is raising money through sponsorships. Another concern is reaching out to the audiences, and creating enough excitement around the show so that people attend since the sport is so new. As far as sponsorships go, we are fortunate to have sealed a Presenting Sponsor deal, as well as an Associate Sponsor for FCC 13. As far as pulling in the crowd is concerned, we are carrying out promotional activity and hope people come to attend Indore's first Pro MMA Fight Night

FCC 13 and future plans

Fireworks, that’s what the fans can expect. The card is stacked, and we have a really exciting Main Event and Co-Main Event Bout, as India takes on Afghanistan. Besides that, we also have a local Martial Arts hero from Indore, Sidhant Chavan participating. He is an experienced Martial Artist, with a great record in Boxing and Wu Shu, and is really popular in Indore, so we are expecting a big crowd on the 9th of July, to attend, and cheer for Sidhant

There is a lot of activity lined up after the 9th of July. FCC recently partnered with Silverkick Entertainment, owned by my friends, Joy Kapur, and Binoy Khimji, both of whom are extremely successful entrepreneurs, to take the sport to the next level. We are doing a 10 city tour with FCC and are also launching an MMA League simultaneously. This way we ensure that the fighters are busy all year round, they have an opportunity to keep earning money on a regular basis, and the popularity of the sport and the brand keeps increasing

FCC is a Network Partner with One Championship, which is based out of Singapore. In the past, we have taken our top performers to Singapore and Malaysia for International MMA Bouts

How can a fighter fight in FCC?

For a fighter to be eligible to fight in FCC, one of the main criteria is that he or she must have a background in Martial Arts. If they have a record in their respective martial arts or have participated in District/ State or National Level Tournaments, that is even better. Fighters are put through a rigorous selection process, where they are tested for their flexibility, strength, skill, endurance, and spirit. Very often, we get approached by rank newcomers. We advise them to first join a martial arts club (could be Boxing/ Kickboxing/ Judo/ Wrestling etc.) to get some experience.  We then put them through at least a year of intense training with us, before they can get their first bout

Growth of MMA in India

MMA is still at a very nascent stage in India, but the signs are extremely positive. With FCC, the journey has been interesting. From the time we began, till now, we have managed to create a dedicated fan base and the reach and awareness of the brand have also increased. Our shows get sponsors and go to a packed house. Of late, there have also been a couple of Bollywood movies with an MMA theme, which is great for the sport, and also for reaching out to the masses and creating awareness. At present, we are restructuring the organization, and will increase the scale, and frequency of shows. It's a matter of time, and I am confident that we will get there slowly, but surely.

An Indian fighter excelling on the international circuit will definitely have a positive impact on the MMA scenario here. But what is crucial is for him/ her to get the right amount of media exposure so that people get to know. From the current set of fighters, i would put my money on Harshad Sadgir who is fighting in the Main Event Bout in FCC 13. He is just 18 years old and is an absolute beast. He has already been a National Level Wrestling Champ and has slipped into the MMA mode with a lot of ease. A few more bouts and he will be ready for the international scene. Vishal Balkawde, an ex ADCC Gold Medallist, and the current Light Heavyweight champion is another fighter who can make a mark on the international circuit. Besides these 2, Dilip Yadav, Gaurav Pandey, Sagar Barde, Kushal Vyas and Dharma Shinde are fighters to look out for

Televised MMA shows are the way ahead. Television is one of the best platforms to make the sport mainstream and reach out to the masses

What makes FCC stand out from other Indian MMA promotions and what UFC can do for India?

What makes us stand apart from other promotions is that we don't take a single rupee from fighters. Sadly, there are a lot of organizations out there who are taking money from fighters, and then giving them opportunities, or sometimes just giving them false hope. Our policy at FCC from day one is to give fighters money for their bouts, and not take any from them. Besides that, we cover fighters for travel, stay, food etc. Our intention has always been to create a network where fighters can take up MMA as a profession, and make a living out of the sport. We promote a lot of the rural talent and provide fighters with a platform that others don't

Promotions like UFC definitely look at India as a big market, and a UFC show in India will do wonders for the sport here, but I am of the opinion that it will take them a while before they enter here. There is very little awareness of the sport, and India is yet to create that one iconic MMA hero who people will follow so for them to put up a show here without an Indian MMA star might not make sense

About Manjit Kolekar fighting in Invicta FC

Manjit is an exceptional talent. She has a great record. She has the capability to achieve great heights on the international circuit. Invicta is a big opening for her, and I am really proud that Manjit will represent India at Invicta. Her team has approached us for a sponsorship for this bout. We should have clarity on the proposal soon

Message to the MMA fans in India

I have one message for MMA fans in India. This sport can stay alive only with the support of fans so go out there and spread the word, and promote MMA the best you can. That will be your biggest contribution to the sport

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