Written by The Times of India [5th Mar 2012]
- In the opening scene of Enter the Dragon, the legendary Bruce Lee punches, kicks and throws his opponent before finally applying a painful arm-lock and forcing his opponent to surrender.
- In the 1970s, cross-training in different martial arts was not allowed. But Lee broke the rules by combining the elements of multiple martial arts via his system philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. He believed that “the best fighter is not a boxer, karate or judo man. The best fighter is someone who can adapt to any style”.
Mixed Martial Arts, which is said to be the world’s fastest growing sport, is about to take young, urban India by storm, courtesy the Super Fight League (SFL).
Promoted by Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra and Bollywood superweight Sanjay Dutt, SFL is launching the country’s first professional MMA league. The kick-off match, to be held in Mumbai on March 11, will feature two big stars of the MMA world: James ‘The Colossus’ Thompson of Britain and Bob ‘The Beast’ Sapp of the US.
A full contact combat sport that has thousands of fans baying for bloody excitement everywhere it goes, MMA allows the use of both striking and grappling fight forms like boxing, wrestling, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, kickboxing and karate. It owes its origins to the ancient Greek sport of pankration, which was often a fight to death. Thankfully, MMA is bound by rules but the aim is still to beat your opponent into submission.
With its cage-like rings, no-holds-barred fights, cheerleaders, and young audiences, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has been pumping up serious adrenaline across the world, rivalling boxing and professional wrestling in popularity in markets like the United States and Japan. What adds to the edge are the catchy names for fighting techniques-like sprawl-and-brawl and ground-and-pound.
Although WWE has traditionally been more popular in India, MMA’s been quietly but rapidly gaining in popularity as gyms and training centres offer training opportunities, and the culture of fight nights grows across cities. SFL promises to take MMA to a whole new level, says promoter Raj Kundra, pitting India’s six best fighters against six international MMA fighters.
Given the success rate of merging sports with entertainment-think IPL, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the US-MMA, with its image of being raw and real, is turning into a huge crowd-puller.
While Sanjay Dutt described it as one of the “biggest action sports worldwide”, Kundra said, “We have a long-term vision for this league…which will bring Indian audiences a new form of sport and entertainment.”
What is MMA?
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, including boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiujitsu ,Muay Thai, kickboxing, karate, judo and other styles.
March 11: Mumbai
April 7: Chandigarh
May 6: New Delhi
Rules: A basic rule of the MMA is that a fighter must fight within his weight class. A bout can be won either through a knock out, a technical knock out, submission, a decision, a unanimous decision, split decision, majority decision or a majority draw. Every round is 5 minutes in duration with a one minute rest period in between rounds. Non title matches must not exceed three rounds (The governing commission can grant dispensation for non-title five round bouts). Title matches can be sanctioned for five rounds.
Stars To Watch Out For
Might Is Right: The Super Fight League, promoted by Bollywood biggie Sanjay Dutt and Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra will kick off in Mumbai on March 11 with a bout between two big stars of the mixed martial arts world-James ‘The Colossus’ Thompson of UK (left) and Bob ‘The Beast’ Sapp of US (right).
Bob Sapp: A professional wrestler, kick boxer and mixed martial artist, Sapp has a 11-10-0 (win-loss-draw) MMA record. Nicknamed the ‘beast’, Sapp stands tall at 6’5″ and weighs 141 kgs.
James Thompson: An aggressive fighter, he is someone who started out as a wrestler. Thompson has a 16-14-0 record.
The glamour quotient: Every bout will be preceded by a 45-minute show with music. For Mumbai’s first bout, drummer Sivamani will perform with Mika. The grand finale will see actor Bipasha Basu raise the oomph factor.