For an extended period, India has been dominated by cricket and football due to various factors: ease of playing the sport in India, access to the television channels broadcasting the sport, the history associated with these sports, etc.
Combat sports, however, have not been the most popular in the country. Sports like boxing and wrestling, though, have been placed on a pedestal as they consistently provide medals for India at tournaments such as the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games. Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, and Lolvina Borgohain, for example, all stacked up medals in the recent 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the country.
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MMA’s rise in India
Mixed martial arts has, on the other hand, rumbled on in the background for several years now. Since 2018, the sport has gotten its much-deserved recognition and is growing in popularity. The backing of several Bollywood stars has helped promote the sport, catching the viewers’ attention around the country.
For instance, Tiger Shroff, as someone who is quite passionate about the sport, organised the Matrix Fight Night along with his sister. The competition consisted of seven pro bouts and four amateur bouts, all of which were carried out in New Delhi.
Promotion apart from leagues can also come in the form of talk shows on renowned TV channels. This opportunity was duly snapped up by Parvin Dabas, who is an MMA enthusiast and a Bollywood actor. The actor hosts the MMA India show, which helps showcase the rise of MMA and bring about awareness to the country’s youth concerning the sport.
Influencers and talk show hosts play a crucial role in swaying the opinions of the majority towards a particular sport; this fact seems largely true in cases where such people are actors or celebrities.
Super Fight League
The Super Fight League commenced in 2012 thanks to actor Sanjay Dutt and businessman Raj Kundra. The League provided a platform for some of the leading MMA fighters in India.
Today, the Super Fight League is going strong, and some of its most prominent content is delivered through its social media handles after the bouts are concluded.
The Super Fight League is also helped by the fact that several famous Bollywood actors such as Ajay Devgn—who also partly owns the Mumbai Maniacs—and Karthik Aryan drop by as guests to promote the sport.
Betting to push MMA
MMA has also been included in the betting charts, drawing further attention to the sport. The betting market, forever welcoming new sports and prospects as a matter of course, allows the sport to gain a more significant reach.
With regular bouts in place, the betting circle can stay connected to the sport and increase its reach.
What lies ahead?
An increasing reliance placed on combat sports to deliver medals for the country in international tournaments, popularisation of sports like MMA in India, and the effect of the betting market on these sports, all act as stepping stones to the eventual success of the sport in India.
Although MMA has gained heights it had never reached before in the last couple of years, there is still a long way to go for the sport to dominate the Indian scene. The right broadcasting deals, the manner of promotion, grassroots development in areas that need to popularise the sport, all factor into its eventual success.
Therefore, event managers and tournament organisers need to weigh in the variables that could affect the potential success of the event, which in turn affects the rise of the sport. The right decisions in the future concerning the aforementioned aspects could certainly help MMA earn a name in the Indian households.