India has enjoyed somewhat of a mainstream exposure to MMA. While the sport has enjoyed progressive growth over the last decade, the arrival of Indian fighters to the UFC in 2023 is a major step in the right direction.
Skill-wise, the training and facilities are not available in IndiaAnshul Jubli, an Indian-based fighter who made his way to the UFC through 'Road to UFC', spent time at the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai for more training. Even though Jubli may not be in UFC title contention, he represents the path for an Indian MMA fighter to make it to the UFC. He is currently 1-1 with the UFC after a strong debut against Jeka Saragih before losing late in the fight against Mike Breeden.
One of the major signings for the UFC is Puja Tomar. She was the MFN strawweight champion before signing with the promotion.
In 2023, the UFC saw their first Indian male fighter perform while also signing their first Indian female fighter. While some may think this is a long time coming, the growth of the sport in India cannot be undervalued. Between the social media following athletes have in India and the patriotic fans around the world, there is plenty for the UFC to be excited about as they carve our their identity in the Indian combat sports market.
India will need to close the generational gap in MMA
Outside of cricket and field hockey, India has always been a questionable nation when investing in other sports. Due to the growth of social media in India and MMA, there is love for the sport with more young fighters being developed. Right now, any Indian fighters who want to improve will likely have to leave the country for access to better facilities.
Similar to the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai, the UFC would benefit from such a setup in India. While there could be a plethora of young fighters looking to improve their skills for the global stage, this will improve their access to training facilities and higher-end coaching.
Even though 2023 was all about Indian MMA making their way to the UFC, it's going to be quite some time before an Indian fighters gets close to a UFC title.