Over the past few editions of MMA INDIA SHOW, we have been heavily focused on the Northeast side of our country and for this time we have reached out to Longtsukumba Ao who hails from Nagaland and trains at The Combat Academy.
‘The Combat Academy’ in Nagaland under head coach Khriemelie Metha has been producing some of the best fighters in the country. Over the years, the North-Eastern part of the country has become a hotbed for Martial Artists and more so for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. One of those fighters is LONGTSUKUMBA AO. He is 8-1 in amateurs and is planning to go pro by next year.
1.) How did you get started in Martial Arts?
“I started training in MMA four-years back in 2016. I started doing it basically for fitness purposes with no clear cut goal in my mind. The goal, in the beginning, was just to getter a better physique and work on my cardio and nothing else. I focused on strength and cardio. Then slowly my coach saw me in the practice and asked me why I don’t take part in competitions, that’s when I started participating in fights and got better at it. I just got to explore myself and felt that I can do this for the rest of my life.”
2.) When did you start participating in amateur MMA bouts?
“I guess three and a half years back. My coach and I talked with other fighters also and they all decided I should start competing as amateurs and that’s when I fought. I fought in Bangalore and won one fight.”
3.) What style do you prefer while fighting?
“When I started I was doing a mix of bit everything. But slowly I gave more focus on grappling and was backing up my grappling skills more than striking. But in recent few fights, I’m again fighting like a striking oriented fighter. I’m mixing both but preferring standup games more than my grappling abilities which are always going to be there.”
4.) How important of a role did your coaches play in helping you improve your ground game?
“My coaches have always played important role in life not just fighting but in my life. My coaches have helped me since day one. They are the ones who got to see the fighter in me first. Coach Metha is one of the best coaches in India if not the best. Not just as a coach he guides us like a friend and always looking forward to helping us in any situation. He’s like one of the coolest guys I met and as a coach he is amazing.”
5.) Did you ever felt a difference between the level of competition in Nagaland as compared to other parts of the country where you fought?
“Not much but definitely the approach to fights are different. I’ll just say that the north-east fighters are more mentally strong than the other fighters I fought, but the north-east guys need to improve at some of the technical aspects of the game because the guys from the rest of the parts of the country have some amazing skills that take us by surprise.”
“So I feel the Nagaland fighters should do more hard work on the technical aspect of the game and mental too. It will definitely benefit them while fighting at higher stages.”
6.)What are the improvements you made in your game in the recent period?
“I focused on my kicks as my leg kicks totally suck! So I am focusing more on kicks and grappling that is basically BJJ. As my wrestling is good but I want to improve my submission game.”
7.) What do you want to say about your MMA team?
“ All of them are amazing. All my training partners are amazing we push each other harder and harder each day. We all are like brothers but when it comes to training we all give our best and try to bring the best out of our partners. It’s the competitive mindset that we all have. Everyone is trying to be the best and push each other harder and most importantly whatever happens inside the gyms stays inside and nobody minds.”
7.) Which is the toughest fight of your career to date?
“My hardest MMA fight was the last fight which I lost my decision. But I find it also my best fight as I gave my everything in it. I couldn’t control the outcome as my leg got hurt in the first round but I still fought and didn’t get finished. My opponent was kicking very hard and I was not being able to handle those kicks and to be honest I got hit by 32 kicks so that was it. The good thing is I didn’t let him finish me. I gave my everything in that fight.”
8.) What is going to be your plan in fighting after everything get’s over in the pandemic world?
“Actually I had many plans but everything got spoiled. I and our head coach had some plans and fights that we were going to fight in but everything happened and now we are looking forward once it comes back to normal. I was thinking of turning pro by this year so let’s see what ahead. So let’s see maybe next year.”
9.) Did you get the necessary support of your family to continue MMA?
“Like in the beginning, they opposed as they had a concern about my health and all but later on after seeing my dedication and everything after seeing how much hard work I’m doing and the efforts I’m putting in MMA they also started supporting me. As I am fighting and training full time there are some issues but it’s alright. I have decided to make it in fighting and give my best.”
10.) What’s your message to all the young MMA Fighters in Nagaland?
“As an MMA fighter mental aspect is the most important. A proper mindset is the most important factor for me. That’s the first thing and getting inside the cage is not a job and the second thing is physical be strong and work hard on strength and conditioning. MMA is not like one dimensional there are several aspects of the game that you have to be good with. You have to come prepared at all the levels of the game. For eg. Khabib, everyone talks about he can’t punch and kick and doesn’t have a nice standup game but in the Gaethje fight he showed what he can do. So that’s what I want to tell kids that learn everything in MMA. But the first thing if I have to tell them to get good at is grappling because everyone can punch and kick but not all can grapple and wrestle.
Have that proper goal and ambition in MMA to don’t’ just do it for timepass. Set a proper goal and chase it. Because you can’t play MMA. You have to work hard and have a proper goal. Discipline should be there and for me most important is the prepare mentally. That’s important. That’s my message.”