We caught up with Aditya PS, the President of the All India MMA Federation (AIMMAF) and the leader of the Kumite 1 League – an exciting new MMA tournament to hit the shores – which is scheduled to undergo its launch on September 29th.
He took time out of his busy schedule to talk exclusively with MMA India.
Q. Kumite 1 League – what is the relevance behind the name?
A. Kumite means “grappling” in Japanese.
I have a pretty unconventional position in the league. I work as a vigilant leader for the promotion providing necessary guidance as and when required.
While MMA is an individual sport, the league format is that fighters represent their own country. So the crowd gets to witness two nations colliding. I believe this brings in a lot more ownership for the viewers towards the fighters. They can relate more to the sport.
What I have also observed is that when general public watches the fights they could very well make out who the winner is given the fight ends via a knockout or a submission. But they fail to sometimes clearly identify if it goes to the judges scorecards. Therefore we have bought in live voting during the fights by viewers.
Q. We read on your site about the ‘Integrated Sports Platform’. Can you explain what that is and why you feel it will be of use in creating role models?
A. I believe the most important piece of the fighting puzzle is the fighter itself. This is why we plan to give our fighters every facility that can help in their growth as a fighter. If only the fighters are in there prime form we can expect better and exciting matches along with some bitter sweet rivalries that can attract viewership to the sport. We have opened up Residential Training Gyms, which goes by the name of K1L Hospitality, in order to provide in-house state of the art training facilities for the fighters where they can live and train as and when desired.
I think most of the promotions both globally and locally have been missing on this aspect and that is why we think that once the fighters are in pristine shape and form they can serve as a role model for the next generation of fighters in line.
Q. Just like you mentioned, we have read about the K1L Healthcare, K1L Hospitality, K1L arena, K1L Cafe, K1L Merchandise and K1L Gaming. Can you explain what these initiatives associated with the Kumite 1 League are?
A. Like I said, all of these are efforts to create a sustainable model of development both for the league and the fighters. We’ve come up with the idea of live fights in a bar like setup, where people can relax and enjoy a fight in their comfort, which is known as K1L arena. Similarly we plan to bring in a whole new clothing range along with accessories of the K1L, that you can wear with the same pride that you wear a UFC T-shirt with.
Similarly we have tried to create a new line of nutrition that can provide them with the necessary proteins in the right amounts, for instance we have bought in a new variety of peanut butter which will be really helpful for the fighters, going forward. Also we are going to launch a new online gaming experience for our viewers, just like we’ve all played Tekken online.
Q. You’ve mentioned that you want to start K1L in India, then move to UAE, Europe and USA. Why do you feel this is different compared to the other popular promotions in those regions.?
A. The league format will be the most distinguished change for the audience of the sport. Its a completely different story when you think of two nations going against each other compared to simply two fighters. One of the biggest reasons why Conor Mcgregor has been so successful in the UFC is because he has successfully captured the emotions of millions of his countrymen. Whenever Conor fights, the arena is stacked with Irish flags. I think our league format will work in a similar manner for the fans.
However, in the long run of things what’s more important is to provide better opportunities for the fighters, not just in our country but on a global scale.
Q. Obviously in terms of local competition you have to consider that SFL is up there. Why is K1L a better alternative than SFL for Indian fighters?
A. I agree with you on the fact that right now SFL is the top dog in the yard. However I think that they are slowly declining with time and they are currently on a downfall. They have not paid the correct amount of attention to their fighters and this is slowly beginning to reflect on the league. Initially they were good, but with time the fighters have been taking hits. In such a scenario, I think K1L will be a welcome change in the Indian MMA scene.
Q. We read on your site that there are 3 rounds in each fight, each round of just 1 minute duration. So effectively that makes each fight just a 3 min fight. What do you hope to achieve through this slightly unconventional format?
A. I think the website needs a bit of an updation. Initially, we had planned on the above mentioned format. Plus we had decided that there would be no grappling in the matches. This was because the larger audience often perceives grappling as “hugging” it out. As long as the fighters stand and trade in the pocket or are engaged in ground and pound, the audience remains hooked. However, as soon as the fighters start grappling the audience finds it a bit boring.
Therefore in order to keep the fight entertaining we had planned on allowing only stand up and ground and pound. And since there is a higher possibility of the fight ending via a KO or TKO when the fighters are on their feet, therefore we came up with this shortened version of the fights.
However, later on considering other aspects as well we decided not to scrap the grappling part and hence the fight will take place in the traditional format that we are used to witnessing. The non title fight will be consisting of three 5 minute rounds and the title fight will have five 5 minutes rounds.
Q. Recently you’ve met Mike Tyson and spent a day at his place and he’ll now be attending the opening ceremony of K1l in Mumbai the coming September .He is someone who is very supportive of MMA, but MMA popularity is still in its nascent stages in our country. Do you believe bringing in someone like him over to India will give the sport a shot in the arm?
A. Mike Tyson is someone who’s popularity has transcended generations. I remember my grandmother listening to a radio and still knowing very well who Mike Tyson is. And even for our generation he is an icon. The idea behind bringing in someone like a Mike Tyson or an Anderson Silva is to instill a sense of belief in the fighters that if people coming from so very humble backgrounds can make it to the top then they can do so too. Also I think that him coming over to India will play a big role in the maturation of the Indian MMA brand.
Q. Where do you see the future of Indian MMA, lets say ten years or fifteen years from now?
A. To be very honest, I can’t predict it. And if you would’ve asked the same question ten years back or even five years back to someone, I don’t think even he could have come up with a precise answer. In our age, stars are made overnight. And when you have a country of more than a billion people with the kind of internet penetration that we have, you never know when someone becomes a star overnight.
I think the more important thing to ask is what will happen six months from now rather than thinking about a ten or fifteen year goal. If the immediate future is well taken care of then the long term goals shall surely fall into place.
Q. Just to top off the interview, who is your favourite MMA fighter?
A. Umm….it would be really hard to pick anyone. I think everyone who steps in the ring deserves a lot of respect. Because MMA is more than a sport. People train so hard and put their bodies on the line, they surely deserve credit for it.
I really liked GSP, being a two division champ is never easy plus when you are coming off a break of four years. On the other hand Conor Mcgregor is the perfect example of how one should market himself.