Assessing UFC In India "TUF INDIA"

Coming September 2013 ufc is all set to debut in India with TUF India. Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport with a strong base in US, Canada & Brazil & Ultimate Fighting Championship, better known as UFC is a premium organization & world leader in this sport. This sport is fast & exciting.

This is great news because as the sports grow along, UFC is seeking new & potential market to grow & expand its market and fan base. This is a sport for all those who are tired with watching fake Wrestling & Boxing's one dimension approach & politics. It’s been very exciting times for the sports & thus untapped markets like India are the perfect place for UFC to start its global expansion dream & they have decided to do it with TUF India very appropriate after successful Edition of TUF Brazil & TUF Australia "The Smashes".

Very few would have ever thought that the UFC would come to India to size up its market. May be one day People like Anderson Silva, GSP and the rest will grace not only Indian TV screens, but our very own cities. Multi Screen Media (MSM), majority-owned by Sony Pictures, will broadcast the UFC in India on its dedicated sports channel SIX and will also air the Indian version of the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) in 2013. TUF is one of the longest running reality shows in the U.S. which features MMA fighters sharing a house and are filmed as they train and compete against each other. A show like TUF is great way of bringing up new talent in new market place."SIX’s willingness to step up and commit to The Ultimate Fighter India was very important to us. TUF India will help to introduce the sport in India, to showcase the hard work, dedication, athleticism and skills needed to compete in the UFC. It will also cast a spotlight throughout the country, searching for the most talented local martial artists. "The UFC will be successful in India even without local stars, but what we’ve seen around the world is fans really want to see one of their own get a chance to compete at the highest level. Somewhere out there in a country of 1.2 billion there is a Indian champion, someone who will capture the imagination of the fans and help take the sport to a whole new level", Fertitta said.

India is currently a very hot market with one of the world's largest economies and a potential market of 1.25 billion people it's the perfect place for the UFC to set up shop. With 65% youth which accounts to around 300 million people in the demographic of 18-49 which is what UFC will be targeting its is a gold mine for them Not to mention that some of the earliest forms of martial arts originated in India.. But It is going to be tough to predict the Indian market. Not so long ago, TNA ‘Impact!’ Wrestling entered the Indian market with their concept of ‘Ring Ka King’, which drew twice the ratings that TNA does in the United States, and was considered to be a huge success. Until now, the only sports entertainment organization which tested the waters in India was the WWE, and those were only promotional tours. So this leaves a whole new unexplored market, and the potential to tap into the million households and establish a winning formula which means it can be a huge success or biggest failure.

There have been Organizations such as SFL who tried to stamp their mark, with a product close to what UFC delivers, but it is nowhere near the juggernaut that UFC is . With a star studded line up, which includes the best fighters from around the globe, what would help the UFC, is something ‘Ring Ka King’ was successful in doing: promoting the home grown talent. & with the interview i have herd & seen of ufc chairman & CEO lorenzo fertitta that is their plan all along & it was nice to hear that they are not expecting UFC caliber fighter from get go they want to groom the fighters & depend more on Tv adds, sponsorship, viewership & ratings. "TUF will be broadcast sometime in September of next year," UFC Chairman and Chief Executive Lorenzo Fertitta told Reuters in an interview. "And from now until then we will be looking for Indian fighters to participate in that reality show. "And then beyond that going into 2014-15 we will be doing a number of live events in the market here." Fertitta believes that the younger generation in India, with limited options outside cricket, is looking for some kind of alternative exciting sport. "We certainly think that's what we can provide and there's nothing more exciting or exhilarating than UFC where two martial artists is competing in the Octagon," he said.

At the press conference in Mumbai on September 11, 2011, announcing TUF India, ManJit Singh, CEO of SIX’s parent company, pointed to India’s "long legacy of Kushti," and hoped that "our fighters from the akharas and gyms will progress and eventually become UFC champions." Kushti is a centuries-old grappling discipline. Fighters live and train in monastery-like schools called akharas and abstain from alcohol and sex while surviving on a vegetarian diet of protein-rich dairy and nuts. Kushti wrestling matches take place in mud pits that are infused with clarified butter, or ghee, which causes the mud to stick to wrestlers’ bodies. Looking at pictures from the akharas, it’s as if the fighters emerge fully formed from the earth, nobly slicked with the muck of existence. Kushti is a waning subculture, one that’s cordoned off from mainstream Indian culture and probably even less popular than rugby, but it holds the promise of adding something particularly Indian to the polyglot mix of UFC disciplines. Just as college wrestling has produced a crop of excellent UFC fighters, so too could Kushti add another set of fighting ideas to the growing knowledge base of MMA and help create new ways for one person to beat up another.

For me UFC is real, better, faster & exiting than fake wrestling shows & with Indian talent doing so well & winning medals in the field of boxing & wrestling in Olympics they should get decent fighter to begin with. SFL was a blessing in disguise for ufc coz they not only educate a portion of Indian audience but will also make way for ufc which will showcase a better product .The market that the SFL attempted to capitalize on has merely opened the door for the UFC to enter and crush their hopes. The first SFL event drew the eyes of over 300,000 viewers, the second show? A spectacular 99 percent drop-off to a mere 3,000.The SFL seems to be making the mistake that many promotions have already made: trying to make a splash with flash instead of a steady growth with substance. They have dove in to the deep end of the swimming pool without a life preserver in sight. And as they open the door for MMA in what could be a large market for the sport, the UFC waits, patiently drawing up a game plan to enter the fray to assert them as the premier brand of the sport. There is the possibility that they could remain on the scene as a smaller national promotion, but when the UFC brings their superior product to the country, it will be an eye-opening experience for the fans.

In the end, this promises to be one eventful encounter. For years, many of the UFC/WWE/Fight fans have wondered who would try to take advantage of the Indian market. WWE took the initial steps with people like Bret Hart visiting the country, then the promotional tours with Rob Van Dam and Kane, but they never tried to take advantage of the fan base they have in India. TNA took a jab with their Indian project ‘Ring Ka King’, and were highly successful. Now, UFC have finally realized the potential, and have taken a step to firm their grip on the highly untapped market. Let us now wait and see how they do, and for us MMA & fight fans, this is really mouthwatering, with potentially the biggest names in MMA ending up before our eyes. A GSP/diaz fight in my hometown? Yes please!

Sumit Uniyal

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