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MMA is the latest sport in India to fall into the ‘League’ culture

Super Fight League is all set to make its return to India and this time around, they are bringing in a full-fledged Mixed Martial Arts League.

“The franchise-based league that will feature eight teams has been sanctioned by the All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA). The franchisee-based inaugural edition of the Super Fight League will see these fighters representing teams from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai, Haryana, Bangalore, Punjab, Pune and Goa. Each team will constitute of nine Indian fighters and three international fighters that will be a mix of men and women. A total of 72 bouts will be played in the league stage that will be followed by two semifinals, a third 4th place and a gala final bout,” SFL stated in a recent press release.

With this huge announcement, MMA is officially the latest sport in India to fall into the ‘League’ culture. Now, to get the facts straight, the league is indeed going to give some exposure to the Indian MMA fighters and will likely cultivate the interest in the sport but at the same time, it just serves as a paper on the crack just like almost all the other ‘leagues’ that India has seen.

Amir Khan is the co-owner of SFL

Beyond doubts, it is the 1.2 Billion population of India that attracts the sponsors into such leagues. Despite being a country struggling with poverty, the entertainment business is something that thrives in India. And the marriage between sports and entertainment is what gave birth to such leagues. Arguments against and for this system have been raised numerous times and it’s pretty clear that development of the sport or the athletes just come in as a second priority.

If SFL’s new franchise based league format manages to leave a different mark in the history books, then we could say that it was a successful venture.

Then the obvious question arises: what does SFL have to do if it has to be different?

Well, to think that SFL could change the MMA picture in India overnight would be foolish, because they cannot. But what they can do is to create a mainstream MMA fighter that the fans could rally around.

“An Indian fighter excelling on the international circuit will definitely have a positive impact on the MMA scenario here” Prashanth Kumar, founder of Full Contact Championship (FCC) recently told us in an Interview.

Having someone like this is going to drastically change the way we look at the sport. One another advantage is the fact that some major promotions around the world including UFC is looking to pounce on such an Indian fighter. It’s no secret that India is a market that Dana White wants to tap into but without a local talent that they could include in their show, this effort will be wasted and Dana knows this pretty well.

It is a win-win situation for everyone involved if SFL does manage to come up with such a star, but the question is can they?

We will only get the answer to this question once the first edition of SFL’s MMA league wraps up. Meanwhile, MMA fans in India do have things to cheer about. Manjit Kolekar is all set to make her debut in Invicta FC toward the end of July. Manjit, who has a 9-0 MMA record, will be facing Lynn Alvarez (6-3) on the show and if Manjit does manage to continue her undefeated streak, it would be a big boost for the sport and her career alike.

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