HYDERABAD: Brave Combat Federation 20th edition of the sport is now in Hyderabad making it the biggest MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) sporting event in the country. The matches which open today in Gachibowli stadium will feature participants from nine countries. In an attempt to familiarise with the sport that isn’t as popular as many others in India, we bring to you an inside look into the event.
Akbar Rasheed, the promoter of Mercury Sports Entertainment who brought the event to India, believes that there are a lot of misconceptions about the sport in India. “It’s considered violent and gory. But Mixed Martial Arts encourage fitness, discipline and also promote the athletics that we ignore in the international arena,” he says. Speaking of the factor of entertainment involved in the same, he says, “Ours is a country that thrives on conflict. On that note, I don’t mean to endorse violence, but the culture of MMA will add a lot of opportunities to athletes, sportspersons as we increase the popularity and demand. Mahboob Khan Mohammad’s recent gold medal at the IMMAF world championship only proves how much talent is going unnoticed in our country merely due to the lack of awareness. And we plan on doing that through entertainment.” He adds, “We love our entertainment to be action-packed, but also not time-consuming. Take for instance how cricket has evolved from five-day tests to ODIs to even to T10 leagues. Now imagine, something as high-powered as MMA fights packed into 15 minute matches. Instant appeal!”
The fighters participating in the league are known to have some of the fittest bodies in the world. “Their heart rates are a lot lower than an average person! That’s how fit they are, that’s their lung capacity,” shares Akbar. Training is different for each of the players. Angad Bisht, a participant from Uttarakhand says, “Fitness is an addiction for me. I can’t sleep if I haven’t trained and/or worked out for six hours.” John Brewin from New Zealand too trains for six hours everyday and a little more on match days. Rob Beech from UK disagrees though. He says, “We don’t have to train for long hours, we can put in two hours of good hard work and be ready for the match. Quality over quantity.” Maria Ribeiro, from Brazil looks like a petite beauty but can toss you to the ground with one hand. She says, “As women, being strong and able to defend ourselves is important and MMA helped me in that. When I found that I could turn it into a profession, I embraced it.”
Brave 20 will have 10 bouts, 6 teams, 10 different weight categories and two main cards. The first set of matches are scheduled at Gachibowli Indoor Stadium at 6pm, today.
— Srividya Palaparthi