Olympic champion Sushil Kumar on UFC's wishlist

Sep 13, 2012, 17:46 IST | Vivek Ajinkya

Ultimate Fighting Championship chief wants Olympic hero to grace extravaganza

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta is confident that his event will thrive in India. “We have a similar situation in all the markets that we’re in. There are other small promoters in the United States, Canada, UK and Brazil. But, UFC is known worldwide as being the premier organisation. We have the top-level fighters and the topmost level of production. Everything we do is first class,” said Fertitta, who believes the presence of the Raj Kundra-Sanjay Dutt promoted Super Fight League (SFL) won’t hamper UFC’s success.

Fighters Rich Franklin and Benson Henderson during the launch of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/Satyajit Desai

“We think it’s a good thing for SFL to be here. It’s giving an opportunity for Indian fighters to get experience and better skills so that maybe one day eventually they can get to the level of fighting in the UFC,” Fertitta told MiD DAY, after announcing a partnership with Sony Six to promote mixed martial arts (MMA) in India.

“We don’t see this as competition. We work on a bigger and better network. We are just going to provide this with a lot more exposure overall to India. We’ll just come here and do our thing. We’ve got a lot of experience. We’ve been doing this now for 12 years.

“We are very similar to the Olympic Games. We have the best athletes in the world competing against each other at the highest level.”

Fertitta is wishing he gets a chance to convince some of India’s famous names such as Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar to join UFC. Fertitta believes UFC will help the London Olympics silver-medallist further enhance his global profile. “It’s difficult, but I’m not saying it can’t be done because it’s done all the time. But from being successful at wrestling to transitioning to being successful as a fighter you have to know that it's what you want to do in your heart.

May happen
“We would love the opportunity to sit down with Sushil and the other wrestlers on the national team and see if they want to pursue a career like that. UFC will give them the best platform from a global perspective. Because once you fight in UFC you get exposure around the world. You are broadcast to over 150 countries. It is truly a global platform.”

UFC, widely recognised as the world's largest MMA promoters, will attempt to sway Indian audiences with an array of fights and also a reality television show – The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): India - in 2013. In TUF: India, 16 Indian martial artists will fight for a UFC contract and a big pay cheque.

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