Is MMA a Popular Sport in India?

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In days gone by, boxing was the only show in town. However, we’ve seen a remarkable rise in the popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA). Now, millions of fans tune in every week to watch their favourite gladiators battle it out in the octagon.

MMA is particularly popular in the USA and the UK, where the sport has garnered an enormous fanbase. We’re now beginning to see the sport’s influence spread across the world as it attempts to overthrow boxing as the number one combat sport. Is MMA popular in India? Let’s find out.

The Most Popular Sports in India

India is a country that loves sports. A rich sporting tradition and history mean that sports are deeply embedded in the culture, and online betting in India has only worked to fuel the desire for sports.

Cricket is the most popular sport in India, widely regarded as the national game. Introduced by the British centuries ago, cricket has become part of Indian culture and national identity and is enjoyed across the length and breadth of the country.

After cricket, kabaddi is the most popular sport in India. This ancient game is played by two teams of seven, with points scored by players successfully reaching the opponents’ side of the court.

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Football is a globally popular sport, and it certainly has fans in India. The English Premier League has lots of Indian fans and has contributed to the growth of the sport in the country. Other popular sports in India include hockey, badminton, tennis, and basketball.

What About MMA?

Traditionally, combat sports have struggled to achieve mainstream success in India. Whether it was boxing or MMA, the country just didn’t seem all that interested.

However, in recent times this is changing. Now, MMA is fast becoming India’s combat sport of choice, and the scene is enjoying a period of success thanks to increased awareness and fan engagement.

Influencers Play Their Part

Influencers play an enormously important role in today’s ecommerce and entertainment industries. They’re vital for sports too, and influencers have been instrumental in the popularization of MMA in India.

Bollywood stars like Tiger Shroff and Parvin Dabas have publicly backed the sport, giving it a sense of legitimacy, and encouraging people in India to get involved with MMA.

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MMA Events in India

As well as publicly supporting the sport, Bollywood star Tiger Shroff even organised an MMA event in India, Matrix Fight Night. This event was held in New Delhi and featured a selection of professional and amateur fights.

Super Fight League is an Indian MMA promotional company. Owned by British boxer Amir Khan, the organisation manages a number of different MMA events in the country and attracts big viewers and major sponsorship deals.  

MMA events in India are governed by the All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMA). This group has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the sport and push for wider mainstream acceptance and integration.

Famous Indian Fighters

When a sport is trying to break into new jurisdictions, nothing is more effective than having an athlete from that country who can act as a unifying figurehead.

Thankfully, there are a number of exciting Indian MMA fighters, including Bharat Kandare, Arjan Singh Bhullar, Ritu Phogat, and Mohammed Farhad. These fighters are helping push MMA to new heights and have inspired a generation of loyal Indian fans.

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Sports Betting

Sports betting has exploded in popularity in India, accelerated by the proliferation of online gambling apps and platforms. Various betting markets are open for MMA bouts, with fans eager to back their favourite fighters before they step into the octagon.

Sports betting is becoming more popular the world over, valued last year at a global worth of $83.65 billion. Betting on MMA adds an extra layer of excitement to what is already a thrilling spectacle, and as sports betting becomes more popular in India, we can expect to see this reflected in the increasing popularity of MMA.

Conclusion

MMA is rising rapidly. Once thought of as a relatively obscure cousin of boxing, it’s quickly becoming the world’s most popular combat sport. While the MMA scene in India isn’t quite at the levels seen in places like the US and the UK, the sport is gathering attention quickly and looks set to become one of India’s favourite sports.