It’s no secret that India is a country that the UFC is interested in. Over the past decade, there have been multiple mentions from the UFC management regarding the same as well. Things took an interesting turn in 2017 when Bharat Kandare became the first-Indian born UFC fighter when he fought in UFC Shanghai.
Fast forward to 2021, the UFC is still on the lookout for talent from the country. Bharat, unfortunately, has been released from the promotion but the doors are still open in the long run for Bharat and other athletes. One of the figures that will be involved in the scouting process of UFC in India will be Somesh Kamra.
Somesh, who was the manager of Bharat, has been working with the UFC for quite some time now. We managed to catch up with Somesh for an exclusive regarding UFC’s scouting plans in India, the release of Bharat Kandare, and much more. You can see what Somesh had to say below.
The vision that UFC has for India
“The UFC is the market leader for a reason. Having been associated and working with the UFC for around 7 years now, I have seen the commendable effort that goes into developing a market. It’s very easy for people to say, ‘Yes the UFC should enter India, the time is correct, etc’, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are multiple layers to this and we are committed to growing the Indian market. With the earlier management under the Fertitta’s, it was easier and quicker. Post the sale to WME-IMG and now Endevour, the hierarchy has changed, but the determination and dedication to develop India hasn’t. We are still very committed to India. In the last interaction with Dana White, we clearly saw how enthusiastic he was on India.”
The release of Bharat Kandare:
“The toughest fighters compete in the UFC and hence we have the fattest paychecks. It is every fighter's dream to fight inside that octagon, but the fighters need to understand a few aspects. Primarily, fighting in an organization like the UFC is a full-time job. What you eat, consume, inject, etc has to be monitored very closely. The relationship between a fighter and his/her team/management has to be like family. The unit that stays together, grows together.
I do believe at many levels; I have to look at a situation from the company’s perspective. So yes, it was a very hard call to make to release Bharat. That being said, the doors for Bharat will be open and if there are a few good wins under his belt, we could see him back in the octagon.”
Scouting Plans of UFC for India
“Yes. In my last conversation with the management, I was told to keep scouting for talent that we can absorb. My suggestion to them was to take a step back and explore opportunities at DWCS and TUF. They instantly loved the idea and gave a go-ahead. So yes, my job is now focusing on finding talent that we can groom and introduce to the Dana White Contender Series happening in mid-2022 and possibly looking at a few talents for the next TUF. The DWCS and TUF are scouting grounds in themselves. If we can plug in maybe 4-5 fighters in DWCS and TUF, we’ll have a clear idea of how they perform under this pressure before getting on the big stage. I’m sure this exercise will be a fruitful one in finding our next MMA star from India.”
UFC events in India
“Again, before entering India, we would need a solid talent pool with local names. That is exactly what we are building at the moment. It won’t be long before we hear the good news of a live UFC event in India. My number and email id are out there. I would love to go check out the talent in any competition across India and identify talent and keep them in our database.”
The interest of UFC in India
“It’s no secret that the UFC is pro India. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle for the organization towards what I fondly call – World Domination. The numbers on our broadcasting partners have shown a drastic rise in viewership over the last 3 years. According to reports, there were almost 100 million viewers for the UFC in 2020. That’s a massive number for us to achieve. Looking at the various events coming up and multiple MMA gyms coming up, I only see this trend gaining momentum eventually getting us a live gated event in India. And that is just the start,”
What do you think of the development? Let us know in the comment section of the article below.