The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is widely recognized as the premier MMA organization in the world today and the best MMA fighters from across the globe are signed by the promotion. The UFC recently announced that it has signed Bharat Khandare who will be the first Indian MMA fighter to be a part of the UFC.
While MMA has grown at a rapid pace in Europe and Europe, the sport has taken sometime to pick up in Asia. China has led the way when it comes to rising MMA fighters but India is now beginning to focus more on its MMA circuit thanks to the promotions and efforts of the All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA). India was represented for the very first time at the 2015 International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) World Championships at an amateur level during the UFC’s International Fight week in July 2015.
MMA fans in India are thrilled to see Bharat Khandare fight in the UFC and they will not have to wait very long as Khandare’s first fight will take place at UFC Fight Night Shanghai which takes place on November 25. He will fight in the bantamweight division and take on Pingyuan Liu and should he win, it will do a lot for the MMA community in India.
The UFC tried to sign Khandare three years ago but the deal fell through because Khandare had prior commitments. The 26 year old MMA fighter has done a short training stint at the acclaimed Jackson Wink MMA Academy in New Mexico and will be looking to take his new found skills to the Octagon at UFC Shanghai and start off with a win. Jackson Wink has stable for some of the best MMA fighters in the world including Jon Jones, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Holly Holm.
The UFC had earlier signed Arjan Singh Bhullar who is also Indian but currently represents Canada. The UFC realizes that India has great potential as an MMA market and is currently looking to break into the market by signing new fighters and increasing its marketing and brand visibility in the country.
Khandare will have a tough challenge when he steps into the Octagon with Chinese fighter Pingyuan Liu who is a lot more experienced and will be fighting in front of his home crowd. Liu has 10 wins and 5 losses in his MMA career and is on a current 5 fight winning streak.