The rising popularity of MMA in India is creating financial waves around the globe. A vast population makes the country potentially the biggest untapped market in the world of MMA. While the UFC has been developing a huge craze in the Indian sub-continent due to a TV-deal with Sony ESPN, other promotions such as Bellator and Brave aren’t too far behind.
The growing number of MMA fans in the country needed a local face to cheer for in their favourite MMA promotions. Hence UFC, the biggest MMA promotion in the world, decided to pounce on this golden opportunity to make money by signing Indian fighters.
After the successful debut of Arjan Bhullar (a fighter with an Indian origin), the UFC have finally signed the first Indian-born fighter. Bharat ‘Daring’ Khandare who is considered to be the best pound-for-pound Indian fighter by many fans and pundits alike is officially scheduled to make his UFC debut later this month.
The signing of Khandare will only help to increase the popularity of the sport in the country. The UFC should also try signing some other talented Indian fighters as well. Hence, we have put together a list of Indian fighters which the UFC should sign next.
Gurdarshan Mangat is a fighter of Indian origin with a huge popularity in the country. A powerful wrestler with stunning striking skills, Mangat possesses an amazing MMA record of 10-2.
Mangat recently challenged Stephen Loman for Brave MMA’s Bantamweight title. It was a quick fight with some wild exchanges and a flash knock-out, “Saint Lion” unfortunately was on the wrong end of that KO. He may have lost his last fight but he still remains one of the best Indian fighters on the planet.
He trains at one of the best gyms in the world with some of the best athletes and has got buckets full of potential. With age and a great coaching staff at his side, he can definitely fulfil his potential and will surely be a great addition to the UFC roster.
Farhad has an MMA record of 9-3, possesses lightning quick hands and has decent knock-out power as well. He is a former kick-boxer and has trained with the legendary Gokhan Saki. In Layman’s terms, he has all the tools that make him an instant fan-favourite.
Just like his bitter rival Mangat, he too fought and lost at the recently conducted Brave 9. Though, unlike his nemesis he lost a really close decision to Hamza Kooheji. Farhad has previously too bounced back from close defeats. Thus, he will surely bounce back from this loss as well.
He is a part of India’s best MMA team, i.e. Team Relentless. With a great coaching staff consisting of coaches such as Jitendra Khare, etc, Farhad is surely the fighter to watch-out for in 2018. The UFC should instantly sign-up this explosive striker so that he can entertain fans from all around the globe with his sensational striking skills.
Manjit Kolekar is an Indian Flyweight with a phenomenal MMA record of 11-1. She is arguably the most talented Indian women’s fighter. In 2016, she became the first ever Indian fighter to fight in a major promotion such as Invicta Fighting Championship.
Kolekar was at a certain disadvantage even before the fight started as she was carrying a hand injury to the fight. She still fought valiantly against the experienced Brazilian Kaline Medeiros but lost the fight via a unanimous decision.
She has fought in many great promotions and leagues such as the SFL, Invicta and that close loss to the Brazilian remains the only blemish on her fighting record. Hence, due to her great record and impressive performances Kolekar probably has the best chance of making it to the UFC among all other fighters on this list.
Jason Ramesh Solomon
J.R. Solomon a.k.a “The Delhi Don” unfortunately earned his fame when a video of him getting knocked-out went viral. However, don’t let that single fight fool you. “The Delhi Don” is a dangerous fighter with a record of 7-1.
He has only lost once and has notable victories in SFL over fighters such as Amit Kumar, Sandeep Yadav, etc. He has proven to be a dangerous grappler with all of his last three victories coming via submission due to a rear-naked choke.
Solomon is surely the coolest Indian fighter around and has increased his marketability due to his charisma and charm. He can potentially develop a cult following in the country and if signed will surely help the UFC in selling a lot of merchandise.
Priyanka Jeet Toshi
Jeet Toshi has a decent MMA record of 3-3. Though, her record is highly deceptive because all her defeats have been against world-class opposition in One FC. Out of her 6 professional fights, four have been in a major fighting promotion such as One FC. Hence, she is arguably the only Indian fighter who has been continuously competing at a very high level.
She hasn’t fought for more than a year and in her last outing she had lost to the highly-rated Jenny Huang. She has been one of the flag-bearers of Indian MMA and can realistically represent the country inside the octagon due to her previous experience of fighting for One FC.
Dhruv Chaudhary is an Indian Bantamweight with a record of 7-4. He is one of the mainstays of the SFL and 10 of his 11 fights have been for the Super Fight League.
He hails from a Wushu and Kickboxing background making him an excellent striker with hydrogen bombs masquerading as fists. He also possesses a huge notable victory over Brave MMA bantamweight and fellow knock-out artist Mohd. Farhad.
Chaudhary may have lost his last bout but that should not undermine his fighting skills. Being an explosive, powerful striker, such is his style of fighting that it is always loved and appreciated by fans around the world. Thus, he can surely set the octagon on fire and the UFC should potentially sign him to give the Indian fans another representative.
Asha Roka is a young 18-year old prodigy with a record of 4-0. She made her professional MMA debut earlier this year in sensational fashion by knocking-out Anjela Pink in just 9 seconds.
She has great boxing skills and she even managed to defeat Manjit Kolekar in a boxing match via unanimous decision. Thus, any questions about her striking ability have surely been answered. Her grappling has also improved a lot with two of her victories in SFL coming via submissions.
She has only fought in the SFL till now but she is still very young and talented. Thus, with her undefeated record and great stand-up game, the UFC might be tempted to hand her a contract.
‘Dangerous’ Gavali has been an inspiration for plenty of Indian fighters. He can arguably be termed as the ‘captain’ of Team Relentless. His MMA record is 6-4 and has been marred by some recent defeats. He lost his last bout but it was a really close decision which could have gone either way.
The Featherweight trains at India’s best gym and has great technical aspects to his MMA game. Thus, he will surely bounce back stronger from these losses. He is the current face of Indian MMA and can follow Bharat Khandare’s footsteps towards the octagon.
Sandeep Kumar Dahiya
Dahiya is one of the best Indian MMA fighters with a great MMA record of 12-2. A former boxer, Dahiya began his professional MMA career in 2013 with SFL-Contenders 4. Apart from a single fight in AOW, he has exclusively fought only in the SFL and is currently riding high on a five-fight win streak.
At 5’11 and weighing just around 200 pounds, Dahiya is a short 205-pounder but that hasn’t stopped him from brutally knocking-out other bigger Light Heavyweights. He has also avenged one of his only two losses by knocking-out Amit Thapa.
His impressive win streak and stupendous record deserve to be rewarded and a UFC contract will surely be the perfect reward for all the hard-work that Dahiya has put in.
Thapa is a Light Heavyweight with a record of 4-1. He is relatively a new professional MMA fighter but is climbing the ladder of success with a brisk pace. He has won all his fights via finishing his opponents in style. He has got heavy hands as 3 of his 4 victories have been via KO or TKO.
He lost his previous fight to the brilliant Sandeep Kumar Dahiya but can surely bounce back. His MMA career has just commenced and with a few more impressive victories he too might come up on the UFC’s radar.