EXCLUSIVE: Varun Sanyal, The Rising MMA Star of India Shares MMA Training; Upcoming World Championship; Future Plans

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Varun Sanyal is the up-and-coming name in the Indian mixed martial arts scene.

The London-based fighter, who opted to pursue a career in combat sports over stereotypical jobs, is all set to represent India at the upcoming 2023 IMMAF World Championship, set to take place in Tirana, Albania, from 20th to 25th November.

Image Courtesy: @varunsanyal on X

Varun has an amateur record of 8-1-0 and made his amateur debut against Polish fighter Kuba Ogórek at FightStar Championship 22, which took place on 15th July last year in London. He nad won the fight via unanimous decision. Afterward, Varun suffered his first defeat against Jovidon Mahmudov in October last year at the 2022 IMMAF Asian Championships, via 2nd round TKO. He made a turnaround after two months, racking two back to back victories, followed by winning the MMA Indian National Championships in May this year.

And now, Varun is all set to hit the bullseye with the upcoming World Championship.

Image Courtesy: @varunsanyal on X

MMA India recently got in touch with Varun, who shared in detail about how he has been preparing for her upcoming IMMAF World Championship endeavor, as well as his backstory of getting into the fight game, as well as his future plans of turning professional.

How did you get started in Mixed Martial Arts? Did you have a background in traditional combat sports like Boxing, Wrestling, Judo etc?

Varun: I grew up watching WWE and used to play grapple with friends. When Brock Lesnar went to the UFC, I started following MMA. However, it was only at 18 that I started training. It was a rough time in my life & a friend told me to try something new, so I chose MMA.

Please tell us about your MMA career so far? What are your achievements in MMA?

Varun: I made my Amateur debut in London in July 2022. Shortly after my coach told me about the IMMAFs and recommended trying out for Team India. In September 2022, I won the MMA India Western Zonals to qualify for the IMMAF Asian Championship team & took part. It was a massive step up in competition & I was defeated by the World Silver Medallist. However, I bounced back 2 months later and racked up two wins. Then in May 2023, I won the MMA Indian National Championships, defeating the former champion in the finals.

Image Courtesy: @varunsanyal on X

How has the training been for IMMAF world championship?

Varun: It’s been excellent, I have a great team of coaches and training partners.

Please tell us about your training regimen?

Varun: I train 6 days a week. I’ll typically train MMA (striking/grappling/sparring) in the afternoon & then do specific sessions in the evening.

Do you plan on turning professional at some point of time?

Varun: That’s very much the plan. As for when, I’ll leave that decision to my coach.

How’s the support been for you from your parents? Usually Indian parents don’t let their kids get into combat sports?

Varun: My parents, brother, and grandad have been my biggest supporters. I went to a good school & have a good university degree, so as you can imagine, they were apprehensive at first. However, this changed once they could see that I was fully committed and not just “dabbling” like they initially thought.

Your favourite MMA fighter or the fighter that you look up to?

Varun: I love many fighters, but Colby Covington is my current favourite. I look up to GSP, Khabib, and Volk a lot.

Image Courtesy: @varunsanyal on X

Your thoughts on the current MMA goat?

Varun: Jon Jones or GSP.

Your thoughts on the current MMA scene in India and importance of organisations like Matrix Fight Night in promoting MMA in India?

Varun: (about the current MMA scene In India) In India, we have a lot of talent. We have a great wrestling and amateur boxing scene; Jiu Jitsu is growing too. However, MMA is its own sport. Currently, fighters like myself, Anshul Jubli, Sumit Kumar, Mahboob Khan, Zarmawia, Vridhi Kumari, Ramston Rodrigues, myself, are all training/competing overseas. Even the best coaches and officials in India acquire knowledge overseas. Over time, as this knowledge is spread, the overall quality of Indian MMA will improve. In fact, foreign fighters will want to come to India and to learn from us.

(About the importance of organisations like Matrix Fight Night in promoting MMA in India) In India, there is no money in MMA. We pay out of our own pockets to compete for the country internationally. However, as we get more fighters winning internationally, I’m certain that the sport’s popularity will skyrocket & this will change.

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