The Mixed Martial Art (MMA) circuit in India is yet to gain national level fame despite having a significant activity throughout the country. However, the Super Fight League (SFL) is adamant on changing and could be a huge catalyst in adding the MMA dimension to the Indian sports arena. Since coming into existence in 2012, SFL has grown exponentially in terms of popularity and as a congregation of exceptional fighting talent in the Indian subcontinent.
Bill Dosanjh, CEO and co-founder of SFL, believes that the tournament is on the right track and will only grow in stature as time progresses. There are certain aspects in which SFL stands out as a sporting event and competitive tournament.
In the first place, it gives local Indian talent a great platform to perform at a global stage and get an unprecedented taste of fame. Secondly, association with big names and brands gives Indian fighters the chance to get recognized. Finally, the fact that a majority of the audience watching SFL is young inspires several youngsters to take up the sport as a career.
In a country like India, there is a huge talent pool in combat sports, especially wrestling and boxing, and a platform like SFL is exactly what is required to push interest in mixed martial arts. Despite the talent pool being huge, not a lot of youngsters take up MMA as a professional career, mainly due to the lack of any sort of incentive, especially monetary. This is exactly where the SFL has made a difference, as the comprehensive nature of the categories is one of its core strengths, giving a chance to a wide range of players.
To be able to have athletes with weights ranging from around 57 kg (Flyweight category) to 120 kg (Heavyweight) works wonder for a country like India, where the population and diversity are quite high. India, as a sporting nation, has grown tremendously in the past two decades, both in terms of viewership and diversity in tournaments.
With the advent of sporting leagues in India, we have athletes from sports like badminton, kabaddi and wrestling getting the chance to be live on national television, with a very strong and diverse viewerbase.
The Super Fight League has a wider reach due to its association with the United States of America, the largest market for MMA in the world. Also, the fact that it gives a chance to rookies to shine at the highest level makes for an exciting prospect. Having someone as popular as Amir Khan, Chairman and co-founder of the league, certainly helps the cause of the league.
However, its true merits lie in its entertainment value, purity as a sport and a chance to witness exceptionally fit athletes perform to the best of their abilities. India is a cricket-centric country and creating an audience for something as unique as Mixed Martial Arts is very difficult, but the SFL has managed to establish a fan base in a relatively short span of time. Attracting youth is always tricky and truly vital for the popularity of any sport and MMA, through SFL, is on the right track to achieve it.