Will the UFC make its way to India?

Back in March IMMAF.org spoke with All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA) National Commissioner, Daniel Isaac, who explained his belief of why India is indeed ready to host a UFC event for the first time. In previous articles the AIMMAA founder touched on the widespread presence of government backed AIMMAA sanctioning across India, in addition to the great potential for the continued growth of MMA that comes with India’s immense population of over 1 billion. Daniel Isaac has discussed the growing number of recreational and competitive participants in the country and also the media platforms bringing exposure to both the UFC and MMA as a whole. Last month Daniel Isaac spoke with TheRingsideView.com, and gave further insight during the interview on financial concerns regarding the UFC’s anticipated Indian venture, having revealed that contact has been made by the UFC and other MMA promotions. “As mentioned previously we have been in talks with UFC, Bellator and WSOF / WSOF Global. They are all interested to enter the Indian MMA market, yet they are wary on the investment / return / loss-risk of that first big MMA event in India under their banner. For me and for AIMMAA we will do our best to partner with every leading MMA promoter who is interested not just to promote in India but to invest equally into the development / grooming and talent-building of Indian MMA athletes.” The AIMMAA chief gave further clarification to IMMAF.org, explaining the Indian culture surrounding live events and how long term investment in the national MMA scene is key to turning heads and bringing a significant shift that can establish ongoing success for a promoter. “In India, apart from cricket and Bollywood events, it’s quite a rarity to get a sellout crowd for a sports event. Most international MMA promotions base their business plan with the gate revenue as a major part of the event budget, thus many international promoters are sceptical about that first big show in India. “If the crowd at the event doesn’t look impressive it won’t sell on TV as well, so you see the connect of the primary issue here. Just recently, maybe over the last year, the UFC has become popular on Indian television. “If an international promoter wants to enter into the Indian markets they will need to have a long term plan to invest specifically into the Indian market starting from scratch, as well as being prepared to face business losses in the initial stages. Most international promoters are wary of that.” India has been on the UFC radar for a number of years now. In 2012 UFC co-owner and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta discussed the promotion’s interest in making its way to India, starting from “ground-zero”. Two years later the UFC’s Director of International Development, Marshall Zelaznik, refered to the Indian market in 2014 as “a priority“. The AIMMAA is no doubt one of the biggest and busiest national governing bodies under the IMMAF banner, with government support and continuous developments happening across the country. India could be percieved as a sleeping  giant in the world of MMA, and one that could be nearing its moment of awakening. For more information on the AIMMAA visit aimmaa.org. You can follow AIMMAA on Twitter @mmafedindia Written by IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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