Tag Archives: MMA

GAMMA World Championship invites Indian team to MMA C’ship in Germany

The team members from the KOI Combat Academy has been invited to the GAMMA World Championships in Germany, equivalent to the Olympics, which is being seen as a major achievement for India – and an opportunity to showcase Indian MMA athletes on the world stage.

Mixed martial arts, sometimes referred to as cage fighting, no holds barred, and ultimate fighting, is a full-contact combat sport based on striking & grappling, incorporating techniques from various combat sports including boxing, kickboxing and martial arts from around the world.

The team earlier came third in the Asian MMA Championships in Kyrgyzstan in August 2021 as it had bagged as many as five medals.

The KOI Combat Academy led by Vishal Seigell, has been independently nurturing MMA athletes, by identifying and adopting the young hopefuls. Vishal Seigell and the KOI Combat Academy completely supports the athletes with their training, equipment, supplements, medical, championships and even housing.

KOI Combat Academy started with a vision to support athletes who are from under privileged and weak socio-economic backgrounds. With a mission to providing opportunities to get them visibility at national and international levels.

“We have already been victorious at what could be the Asian Games of MMA – the Asian MMA Championships held in Kyrgyzstan in August 2021,” says Vishal Seigell, Founder, KOI Combat Academy.

“We have now been invited to participate, in what could be called the Olympics of MMA – The GAMMA World MMA Championships to be held in December 2021. This would be an excellent forum to showcase India and its talent to the world, and offer hope to the Indian youth – especially after the challenges of the pandemic,” he added.

Coach Vishal Seigell, Founder of the KOI Combat Academy started training in MMA at 6 years of age – and has numerous achievements to his credit as head coach of the Indian National MMA Team (AIMMAF) (2021), World Kickboxing Network Supervisor among many others.

The athletes are looking for sponsorships for the tournament, and are training intensely. The team consists of 6 athletes, the head coach – manager and an assistant coach.

The athletes – Naoram Dinesh, Subala Laishram, Kishore Gowda, Havish Reddy, Ajit Negi and Rupjyoti Choudhary are getting ready to be the new champions of the world.

Ritu Phogat set to take on Itsuki Hirata at ONE Women’s Atomweight World GP semi-finals

After winning six of her first seven fights since making a transition to the MMA circuit, 27-year-old former Indian wrestler Ritu Phogat is now ready to take on the ultimate challenge.

Set to face-off against the undefeated Japanese judoka, Itsuki Hirata at the semi-finals in Singapore at ONE: NEXTGEN, Phogat is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to training.

“I’ve always been blinker-focused towards the Grand Prix and it is closer than I can imagine. It is important for both me and my country because it can place an Indian woman on the global MMA stage. India has never had a female MMA champion in the past and now it is time for us to change the game,” said Ritu.

Commenting on how she plans to take on her opponent, Itsuki Hirata who is a Judo expert and a fellow grappler, Ritu said: “My opponent is definitely formidable because she has a very strong background in Judo. I am working on augmenting my ground game and sharpening my striking capabilities. And although people may think that our styles are similar, I am certain that my wrestling background will give me an edge. Since we both are grapplers, I assure you that this showdown is going to be etched in the minds of the viewer.”

Talking more about her training regimen in the days leading up to the semi-finals, Ritu said she is currently giving it her best and training twice a day, six times a week.

“It is always effort over excuses for me. Sometimes, I even train thrice a day because my father has always told me that hard work is the only shortcut to championship. Like they rightly say, hard work betrays none, and focus and efforts are well within your circle of influence. The more I train, the more confident I am and the more equipped I am, the more unassailable I am. From wrestling and strength conditioning to sparring and striking, my training covers a vast set of MMA skills,” she added.

Lamenting about her time away from home in India and missing Diwali celebrations for a second year in a row, Phogat puts on a brave front and said: “My Diwali gift to my family and all my fans will be my win at the semi-finals. I’ve been away from home and that has been my grim reality for a while but then I know it will eventually be worth it.”

“My transition to MMA has come at a time when I was at the peak of my wrestling career. The decision was triggered by our underrepresentation in the sport and I wanted the world to see India through a reimagined prism in the MMA space. My sisters and my father were very supportive and I want to prove myself worthy of their steadfast belief,” she added.

When asked about what she’d like to say to young women athletes out there, Ritu’s message was simple as she said: “Believe you can and you would have done it already. It won’t always be easy but it will make you strong. Your hard work will determine the speed of your journey, so keep at it. Let’s open up opportunities for each other to grow, encourage and empower. ”

On a lighter note, when asked who would she’d choose if a movie were to be made about her life and what parts would she want the filmmakers to not leave out, Ritu steadfastly said: “When it comes to sports, people only see the glory and the laurels. But I would want people to know that behind all the glamorous success is years of hard work, sweat and tears.”

“It takes sheer grit and determination to be successful, and there is no glossing over this. You cannot sugar coat the difficult days spent in gruelling training or the nights of feeling low after defeat. As for who I would choose to play me, I think I am the best ambassador for my life story,” she added.

ONE: NEXTGEN main event will feature a World Title trilogy bout, as reigning light heavyweight kickboxing king Roman Kryklia meets old foe Iraj Azizpour for the inaugural ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Championship. The show will also feature Stamp Fairtex and Julie Mezabarba competing in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix semi-finals alongside the Indian Tigress.

Ritu Phogat gears up for upcoming ONE: NextGen semifinal

Indian wrestling icon Ritu Phogat is quickly building confidence as a mixed martial artist, after winning six of her first seven fights since making the transition to the Circle.

The 27-year-old “Indian Tigress” recently advanced through the prestigious ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix tournament after emerging victorious at ONE: Empower last month over highly-ranked Meng Bo of China.

Phogat now moves on to face undefeated Japanese judoka Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata in the semifinals at the upcoming ONE: NextGen event, scheduled to broadcast live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, October 29.

Phogat, now ranked fourth in the atomweight rankings, is excited for the matchup.

“I think the fans realized how interesting the matchup is with Itsuki [Hirata] from a technical standpoint. Obviously, my game tends to take the action to the mat, to take advantage of my wrestling game. Itsuki, on the other hand, is a grappler,” Phogat said.

“Our strengths are very similar, so to see who would win this match is going to be fun for the fans.”

Fans voted for the Grand Prix semifinal matchups through online voting polls. Phogat vs. Hirata presents a battle between two capable grapplers, albeit with vastly different styles. Phogat is, of course, a decorated world-class wrestler, while Hirata comes from a judo background with a knack for submissions.

Hirata is somewhat of a fan favorite in this fight. A lot of hype surrounds the Japanese star, causing many to look past Phogat. But although Phogat has been doubted in the past, she believes she’s now the complete package, and warns fans not to underestimate her any further.

“Everyone knows what I’m capable of, and after that performance, now you have to doubt me at your own risk and peril. I’m the best wrestler in the division, hands down, and my striking game can only improve and get better from here,” Phogat said.

“People underestimate me but I’m very strong for my size. It’s hard to submit someone when you’re being held down and smashed from the guard. I’m not an easy fighter to submit. Many have tried before, and no one has succeeded.”

Phogat’s game plan has always been to take her opponents to the ground where she can play to her strengths. That will still be the case against Hirata, who also prefers a ground war.

Whoever can land a takedown first will have the best chance of ending up in a dominant position. Phogat is confident her wrestling will get the job done.

“I will do what I do best, put her on her back, sit in her guard and ground and pound my way to another win. Just like Khabib [Nurmagomedov], I can tell Itsuki what I’m going to do and she still can’t stop it,” Phogat said.

“I’m supremely confident in my ground game and I look forward to testing strength versus strength with Itsuki.”

ONE: NextGen will see two women make it through to the final round, and Phogat hopes to be one of them.

But first, ONE Championship returns on Friday, October 15 with ONE: First Strike. The main event features a battle for the inaugural ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Championship between Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan and Superbon.

Arjan Bhullar gears up for ONE Championship title defense

ONE Championship has laid out its plans for the immediate future of the heavyweight division.

Prior to the stacked ONE: REVOLUTION event, ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced that the bout between top heavyweight contenders Anatoly Malykhin and Amir Aliakbari would determine who would challenge Arjan Bhullar next for the division’s crown.

And with Malykhin making quick work of Aliakbari in this title eliminator, knocking him out midway through the first round, the stage is set for a major heavyweight clash.

“He did his job, he did what he needed to do against the heavy bag which is Amir Aliakbari,” said Bhullar, heaping sarcastic praise on Malykhin while shoveling dirt on Aliakbari.

“[Malykhin] doesn’t have the skills I have, neither does he have the insides. He doesn’t have the spirit I have inside, [and he] doesn’t have the mentality I have,” he added.

Bhullar made mixed martial arts history back in May at ONE: DANGAL when he dethroned then-champion Brandon Vera en route to capture ONE Championship gold. The victory made Bhullar the first and only mixed martial artist of Indian descent to capture a major MMA title.

When Bhullar steps inside the Circle opposite Malykhin, it will mark his first title defense and a chance to make even more history.

“Anatoly has a 10-0 record, very similar to mine. I had that ‘0’ a few years ago, and so I know exactly how he feels. Even in the fight, when I ended up losing, I was winning every second in that fight,” Bhullar recalled.

Bhullar’s lone defeat came in 2018 by way of omoplata submission. But before the rare submission hold was secured, Bhullar had been teeing off on his opponent and looked well on his way to remaining amongst the undefeated.

Instead, Bhullar would be forced to tap, a loss which would end up immensely benefiting his growth as a martial artist.

Since his lone defeat, Bhullar has won four consecutive fights and cemented himself in the ONE Championship record book. And although his win over Vera was historic, there is no debate: rising star Malykhin will be the champ’s toughest task yet.

“There is a way he’s going to carry himself because [he is undefeated], but there’s a way I’m going to carry myself because I’m not too far off from being undefeated myself,” Bhullar said.

“Yet, I have filled in the gaps [in my game] that potentially I don’t think he has because, you know, everything is going well for him – and I’m just going to leave it at that for now. But I do think he’s a formidable opponent and his record shows that. I’m excited for the challenge,” he added.

While Bhullar has expressed his belief that Malykhin is a worthy opponent, the heavyweight champion had a simple response when asked to predict the fight.

“I do not feel it’s going to go the distance. I will have my hand raised and he will be busted up,” Bhullar said.

Ireland’s Conor McGregor tops Forbes’ highest-paid athletes list for 2021

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star fighter of Ireland — Conor McGregor has been the world’s highest-paid athlete in the past one year and in course, he has also left behind ace footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the annual Forbes list.

During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021 McGregor earned $180 million, a figure which includes $158 million from endorsements and the recent sale of the majority stake of his whiskey brand, Forbes said.

On the other hand, Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi is second on the list and set a record as the highest-earning soccer player after bringing home $130 million.

Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo earned $120 million in the past one year and sits at the third spot among the top 10 highest-paid athletes.

NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 million) of the Dallas Cowboys and four-times NBA champion LeBron James ($96.5 million) rounded out the top five.

DraftKings becomes UFC’s official sportsbook & daily fantasy partner in US, Canada

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and DraftKings, an American daily fantasy sports contest and sports betting operator, have announced a groundbreaking agreement. After the deal, DraftKings has become the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion’s first-ever official sportsbook and daily fantasy partner in the US and Canada.

According to a report in ESPN, the five-year deal is worth US$350 million.

After the agreement, DraftKings will now offer in-game promotions, activations, in-broadcast odds integrations and UFC branding across its daily fantasy and betting products and will possess rights to use official UFC marks and logos.

Commenting on the developement, UFC president Dana White said: “This is a massive deal that will benefit UFC, DraftKings, and most of all the fans. This is the most important deal we’ve ever done to increase engagement with our fans and reach new ones, and I’m looking forward to all the exciting things we’re going to do with DraftKings over the next few years.”

On the other hand, Jason Robins, DraftKings co-founder, chief executive and executive chairman said: “Combat sports, and UFC in particular, have scaled significantly across both our sportsbook and daily fantasy verticals, evolving from a niche offering to a high-demand category that we believe will only grow further as we innovate.”

Ritu Phogat can win ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix, says Arjan Bhullar

ONE Championship female atomweight talent and Indian mixed martial arts rising star Ritu Phogat has been selected as one of eight participants in the highly-anticipated ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix, set to commence in Q2 of 2021.

Fellow Indian mixed martial artist, heavyweight phenom Arjan “Singh” Bhullar, is all praises for Phogat after learning she had been selected for the high-profile women’s tournament.

“I’m very excited Ritu [Phogat] was selected for the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix, and everyone else that’s in the tournament. I think it’s going to be a tremendous show of skill. Everyone has their skill sets that they’re bringing to the table. It’s going to be some great fights,” said Bhullar.

Phogat joins #1-ranked contender Denice Zamboanga, #2-ranked Meng Bo, #5-ranked Stamp Fairtex, undefeated Japanese star Itsuki Hirata, South Korean veteran Seo Hee Ham, Alyona Rassohyna, and Alyse Anderson.

The winner of the tournament will go on to face reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, who is expected to be ready to compete by November after giving birth to her first child early this year.

Bhullar has assessed Phogat’s competition, and firmly believes she has the tools necessary to emerge the winner of the tournament, and snatch the world title from Lee soon after.

“Looking at everybody, no one has the skill set that Ritu does. She is a world-class wrestler, and there’s no one else in those eight who measures up in that regard. That is something she definitely has to lean on to separate herself from everybody else, in order to get the wins and advance,” said Bhullar.

“I think she can win this thing. I really do. I think she has shown a good, well-rounded skill set in her last fight. Every time, she improves. In a tournament like this, she’s used to come from amateur wrestling, working her way through a bracket and getting through a semifinals, a finals, etcetera. I think it’s going to serve her great as she has been in tournaments her whole life.”

“Each fight, she improves and shows something new. That consistency of the fights is going to really serve her. As long as she doesn’t forget who she is and what got her here, stick with that, that will be the difference maker,” Bhullar added.

Bhullar, a Commonwealth Games 2010 gold medallist who traces his roots to Billi Bhullar village in the Jalandhar district of the North Indian state of Punjab, is pencilled in to face Filipino-American mixed martial arts icon Brandon “The Truth” Vera for the ONE Heavyweight World Championship sometime this year.

Both men are already deep in training. The fight has yet to be officially announced, however, although many fans and observers feel it is only a matter of time.

It’s completely within the realm of possibility that, by the end of the year, both Bhullar and Phogat are ONE World Champions.

“It would be absolutely massive if both of us had world titles this year. It’s very possible. My opportunity is up first, and soon thereafter will be hers. But it would be huge for India, and obviously huge for us on a personal note — huge for the sport, huge for the company. It will really plant a flag that MMA has truly arrived in India among Indian MMA fans,” said Bhullar.

“We both have a tremendous opportunity. I’ll make sure to get mine done first, and hopefully give Ritu a little more inspiration, that it’s definitely possible, maybe give her a little more pressure that she has to get it done — the King and Queen of Indian MMA.”

The undefeated Phogat is currently deep in preparation for her biggest undertaking yet. Bracketing for the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix is expected to be finalized and announced soon.

Conor McGregor announces third retirement in four years

Mixed Martial Art legend has announced to hang his gloves. This makes the third occasion in four years that McGregor has made public his decision to quit the professional combat sport.

He had returned to the ring within a year after making a similar announcement in April last year. Earlier, he had announced to quit the ring in 2016.

In a twitted message on his certified handle @TheNotoriousMMA, McGregor worte “Hey guys I’ve decided to retire  from fighting. Thank you all for amazing memories! What a ride it’s been!,” he stated in the message which also featured him in a picture with his mother. “Here is a picture of myself and my mother in Las Vegas post one of my World title wins! Pick the home of your dreams Mags I love you! Whenever you desire it’s yours!,” he added further.The announcement came shortly after the conclusion of UFC 250 in Las Vegas early today (Sunday).

Talking to ESPN, McGregor revealed that he was not finding interest in the game anymore. “”I’m a bit bored of the game,” he told ESPN. “I watched the last show – the (Tyron) Woodley v (Gilbert) Burns show… I’m just not excited about the game.

“I don’t know if it’s no crowd. I don’t know what it is. There’s just no buzz for me. We’ll see what the future holds. But for right now, for the immediate future, 2020, all the best to it.”

The news has taken millions of MMA and McGregor fans by surprise.