By Caoilte de Barra
The fifth MMA India National Championship was held from May 20-22 in Neemuch Madhya, Pradesh. The competition was followed by FOK Pro Fight Night and saw 292 athletes from across 31 States and Union Territories participate in the National Championships. National champions were crowned in senior, junior and all three youth categories.
On May 19, weigh-ins kicked things off, followed by the rules briefings and opening ceremony. In attendance was local MLA Dalip Singh, alongside several local politicians and police officers. Later that day, MMA India held their annual general meeting, attended by 58 members.
At the end of the three-day event, the top team of the Championship was Telangana State MMA Club, with 14 medals in total; 8 Gold, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze.
Overall it was a popular event locally that attracted a crowd of close to 25000 people. One of the standout athletes in India, Mahboob Khan, once again came out victorious in the Flyweight category. The 2018 Junior World Champion had a large division but managed to cruise through the tournament, finishing two of his bouts via TKO/KO to solidify his gold medal position. A win that saw him bounce back to winning ways after his World Championships ended in an opening round defeat to eventual silver medalist Dastan Zhakypbekov.
Another familiar name was Vriddhi Kumari, who won Bronze at the 2022 World Championships. Her opponent in the final, Khushboo Nishad, looked promising throughout the competition and was a candidate to take gold. However, Kumari remained composed and overcame the challenge, submitting Nishad to cement her spot as the top Atomweight in India.
MMA India used My Next Match for the first time as their registration tool and for keeping results, medalists etc. A full list of results and medalists can be found here.
Speaking post-event, MMA India President Sharif Bapu was pleased with their progress. He said:
“The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow. This is what I keep telling all my athletes in India and motivating them to be better each & every day of life.
“Today, we have come a long way with many ups and downs, but the determination to do something for the sport of MMA in India has brought in all like-minded people from all walks of life. Today we can proudly say that we are slowly but progressively moving ahead and proving to the world what we are capable of. Hopefully, the day is not far off that MMA in India will be the best in the world.”