Mixed Martial Arts in India: Not So Crazy After All

India isn't completely virgin territory for MMA, but this appears to be the sort of development that must make Lorenzo Fertitta lick his chops:

Close to a month from now, India too will witness something close to a fight night for the first time and you could well witness the mixed martial art (MMA) form here. Full Contact Championship (FCC), an initiative by Prashant Kumar - a professional MMA exponent, will host the first fight night in Mumbai in April.

"The fight night culture doesn't exist in India. There is a desperate need in India to provide talented fighters with a platform to perform. Also, sporting entertainment need not be restricted to cricket alone in our country. MMA Fight Nights will open up a new and exciting avenue in the area of sporting entertainment," Kumar said.

Talking about where he sought inspiration to introduce the martial art form in India, Kumar said, "I have been a martial arts exponent for the past 20 years and I cross-trained in different fight styles. Between 1990 and 93 I participated in free style full contact fighting in Mumbai. However, at that time there was no scope, opportunity or recognition for fighters here. In fact, I would have loved to pursue fighting as a career abroad. The youngsters shouldn't miss out on what I did, hence this move."

The infrastructure of the sport in India is barely even in the embryonic stage, so let's not rush to absurd judgments about the UFC hosting events in the country by 2010. But the UFC's interest in the region long term is well known and the case for going into the country is strong: wealth is growing, there are ample potential participants and Indians are looking for more entertainment choices in their daily life. Combine that with a strong folkstyle wrestling tradition, some luck and a fair amount of time and we have cause for optimism.

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