Mixed Martial Arts is one of the most rapidly growing sports globally today. Gone are the dark ages when cage fighting was regarded as a barbaric and unregulated violenct sport. MMA fighters today are one of the most highly trained, well recognized and well-paid athletes in the world.
With the colossal status that the sport's premier promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship ('UFC') has reached, coupled with the rise of other smaller promotions such as the American Bellator MMA, Singapore's ONE Fighting Championship and the Bahrain based Brave Combat Federation, the sport of MMA has never seen better days and is a household name globally today.
The rise of the sport to popularity has attracted talented martial artists from all across the globe to transition to professional MMA in search of fortunes and glory and Indian fighters are not too far behind in this regard as well. In the present day, we have a lot of extremely talented Indian fighters competing at the highest level of the sport and some are on the brink of super-stardom.
In this article we highlight 9 Indian fighters who could be the flag bearers and superstars in the sport of MMA. The fighters have not been ranked in any particular order, and the article merely lists out 9 upcoming stars of Indian MMA.
'The Kerela Krusher' Rahul Raju is one of the very best fighters from India and is on a path to glory and stardom. Rahul Raju is based out of Kerela, India and fights out of Singapore where he trains at the famed Juggernaut Fight Club. Raju is a Welterweight with a professional record of 7-4. He is signed with the Singapore based promotion ONE FC and has been competing with top competition ever since he began his MMA journey. Raju is currently riding a 2 fight win streak, and secured his last victory against Pakistan's Furqan Cheema.
A relentless finisher, The Kerela Krusher has won 5 out of his 7 victories by stoppage with 3 submission victories and 2 knockouts. Rahul Raju had a shaky start to his ONE FC campaign and lost his first 3 bouts, albeit all against top contenders like Honorio Banario and Gary Tonon. However, Raju has turned around a new leaf in 2019 by winning his last 2 fights, both by submission.
An exciting fighter with well-rounded skills, Rahul Raju has all the makings of becoming the flag bearer of Indian MMA in the years to come.
'The Knockout Queen' Asha Roka is a young prodigy and one of the most exciting prospects of Indian MMA. A straw-weight fighter, Asha Roka holds a professional record of 4-1 with all her victories coming by stoppage. Roka fights out of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India and is a former national boxing champion. At just 21 years of age, Asha Roka has made a huge name for herself and is being recognized as a top contender at 115 lbs in ONE FC.
The Knockout Queen began her MMA career fighting in the Indian promotion Super Fight League where she won 4 straight fights. Her impressive performance in SFL led her to join Singapore's ONE FC. In her very first fight in ONE FC, Asha Roka fought one of the best women fighters in the world and the ONE FC Atom-weight Muay Thai and Kickboxing world champion Stamp Fairtex. She suffered her first professional defeat at the hands of Stamp Fairtex in August 2019 and is yet to compete again.
Asha Roka is a very young and an extremely talented fighter who has taken the MMA community by storm with her quick rise to the top. With a well-established pedigree in boxing and an exciting fighting style, the future looks very bright for the young Asha Roka who could very well be one of the biggest stars in India and globally in the sport of MMA.
A veteran in the sport, Manjit Kolekar has been involved in active professional MMA since 2012. A straw-weight fighter, fighting out of Superfit Combat based in Mumbai, India, Manjit Kolekar is a very well established fighter in the domestic circuit with a professional record of 11-4.
Kolekar has been regularly competing in the Super Fight League and the Indian regional circuit and has never been defeated in the homeland. In addition to domestic competition, the veteran combatant has also been competing Internationally in Invicta FC, Russia's Fightspirit Championship and Brave FC.
Manjit Kolekar has hit a rough patch lately and has been defeated in her last 3 fights, her last defeat coming at the hands of Samin Kamal Beik at Brave CF 30. Despite her recent fallout, there is no denying the talent and promise in Manjit Kolekar. An experienced fighter and still young in age at 28 years old, Manjit Kolekar can be expected to turn her fortunes around and is just a few good victories away from being a frontrunner in Indian MMA globally.
Mohammad Farhad has risen to become one of the biggest names in Indian MMA, courtesy to his recent exploits in Brave CF. A finishing machine, Farhad fights out of Mumbai, India and boasts an impressive record of 11-3 with 9 finishes.
Having begun his career in the Super Fight League, Farhad has been a staple contender in Brave FC since 2016. He is presently riding a 2 fight win streak and made headlines in his last fight with a blitz first-round knockout of India's Kushal Vyas at Brave CF 30. Mohammad Farhad has been a well known name in the domestic circuit since 2013 and has now risen to be one of the most accomplished and popular Indian fighters globally.
With an exciting style and an impressive record along with his recent victories, something huge can be on the horizon for Mohammad Farhad. If Farhad can continue to ride this momentum, an opportunity to showcase his skills at the bigger stages of ONE FC and UFC could be a very real possibility for the young bantamweight prospect. He is definitely one to look out for and prospectively a shining star for India in the sport.
Dhruv 'Psycho' Chaudhary has been a regular feature in the domestic circuit and the Super Fight League since 2013. He fights out of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India and is a Featherweight fighter with a professional record of 13-7 with 10 stoppages. At just 26 years of age, Dhruv Chaudhary already has 20 MMA fights under his belt, making him one of the most experienced fighters in India today.
'Psycho' has only competed in India and is yet to land an opportunity to showcase his skills overseas and make a bigger name for himself. He is already very well known in the country and has notable victories against top Indian fighters such as Mohammad Farhad, Chaitanya Gavali, and Angad Bisht. Chaudhary is one of the marquee fighters of the Indian MMA league SFL where he captained the Bengaluru Tigers in the 2017-18 season. Chaudhary last competed in June 2019, where he lost a closely fought decision to another Indian upcoming prospect, Angad Bisht.
Dhruv Chaudhary has all the skill and the personality to become a notable star for Indian MMA. He is a veteran of 20 fights already while still being young in age. An opportunity to fight for bigger promotions overseas could mean the start of global stardom for the Meerut bred 'Psycho' and he could very well be another star of Indian MMA in years to come.
Jason Ramesh Solomon
A conversation about Indian MMA fighters simply cannot be completed without mentioning 'The Delhi Don' Jason Ramesh Solomon. A charismatic character and one of the biggest names in Indian MMA, Solomon is a Lightweight and Welterweight fighter, fighting out of Delhi, India. Solomon has a dynamic and aggressive fighter with a professional record of 8-2 and has finished all his opponents holding 4 knockouts and 4 submissions.
'The Delhi Don' has made a huge name for himself in the Indian circuit with his stellar performances in the Super Fight League (SFL) coupled with his panache on the screen and outside the cage. Solomon is a very well established combatant in the SFL and has been involved in active competition since 2012. He was also the captain of the Delhi Heroes in the 2017-18 season of the SFL and was easily one of the most exciting and popular fighters in the league and the season.
It is safe to say that Jason Ramesh Solomon is one of the biggest, if not the biggest stars in Indian MMA today and has all the makings of being a true superstar and representative of the country on the global stage. He is yet to compete internationally, but it is safe to say that whenever the 'Don' does compete overseas, he will have a lot of eyes and will carry a lot of hype into any fight that he finds himself in and is definitely one of the front-runners in the potential Indian MMA stars of the future.
Kantharaj Shankar Agasa
Another exciting prospect at Bantamweight and Featherweight having all the makings of being a future star for India in the sport is Kantharaj Shankar Agasa. A very well established and experienced fighter, Agasa boasts an impressive record of 11-2 with 6 finishes. Agasa has been actively competing in the Indian Super Fight League since 2016 and has 2 notable victories over fellow Indian star, Dhruv Chaudhary.
Kantharaj Agasa went into Brave CF with a flawless record of 10-0 but fell short in his first 2 bouts. He, however, returned to winning ways in his last fight at Brave CF 30 with a UD victory over Nawras Abzakh. An experienced fighter with all the skills to become a star in the sport, Kantharaj Agasa is another one to watch in the future.
Bharat 'Daring' Khandare is undoubtedly, the face of Indian MMA presently. Khandare fights out of Mumbai, India and holds a professional record of 6-3 with 5 finishes. He is also the only Indian fighter to ever compete in the sport's premier organization, the UFC.
Bharat Khandare last fought in November 2017, when he made his UFC debut against Song Yadong at UFC Fight Night 122: Shanghai. Khandare fell short in this Octagon debut and was defeated by the young Chinese Yadong. Although he could not secure a win in his first appearance in the UFC, Bharat Khandare's debut meant a lot for the sport in India and raised hopes for a lot of fighters in the country to compete in the UFC in near future.
Khandare is yet to return to competition following his last defeat back in 2017, and is reported to be in training camp in the USA and preparing for his UFC return. One of the most popular Indian names in the sport today, Khandare is and will continue to be a flag bearer for India before the biggest stage in the sport, and has all the potential to be a true star for India in the days to come.
The most talked-about Indian MMA fighter today who has taken the world by storm with her dominant victory in her debut fight, Ritu Phogat is set to become one of India's biggest superstars in the sport of MMA globally.
The former wrestling star, Phogat won numerous laurels in freestyle wrestling under the 48 kgs weight category, which include a gold medal in the 2016 Commonwealth Games, a Bronze medal in the 2017 Asian Games and a Silver medal in the Under-23 World Championships. She recently made the transition into MMA in 2019 itself, when she retired from wrestling and moved to Singapore to join the elite training camp, Evolve MMA and also signed with ONE FC.
Ritu Phogat made her MMA debut recently at ONE Championship's Age of Dragons event against the South-Korean Kim Nam-Hee in the Atomweight division. Phogat won her debut in dominant fashion when she secured a TKO victory in the very first round. Read more about her debut victory here.
With the ideal result in her debut fight, Ritu Phogat is riding a great hype and is expected to become a true global superstar in the sport in the recent future. The world eagerly awaits her return to competition and we hope to see similar dominant performances from her and hope that the wrestling icon can become a champion in MMA soon.