AIMMAA has laid the perfect groundwork and infrastructure for any investor looking to capitalize on the thrilling space that the Indian Mixed Martial Arts circuit is shaping up to be.

The lights go dim. The music swells. A spotlight illuminates a person. The energy builds. The lights go bright. A figure emerges. A legend is made or broken. That, in essence, would describe the start of an MMA fight and the enthusiasm this sport brings with it not only for its fans but also for the industry as a whole.

These are exciting times to be a part of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) scene in India. But first, let’s go back a bit, to at least 7-8 years ago, when MMA fights were ’illegal’ and ‘unsafe’. That is not to say they weren’t in existence, because we were organizing fights to develop the sport and promote MMA along with Indian MMA fighters. Now take a leap to 2015 and everything is quite the opposite. We have the proper infrastructure in place. We have a regular circuit, whether it is with Super Fight League or with promotions like BodyPower or BodyForce. We also have a very safe setup that includes trained and experienced officials. This is backed by a proper system in place, which we promote under #SafeMMAinIndia and this system basically ensures that everything where the fighters and the sport is concerned has a prerequisite of health, safety, and sporting requirements. Most importantly, we have an experienced governing body - All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA), which provides licensed, trained, and experienced fighters along with the requisite sanctioned requirements. After all these years of trial, error, and experience, the sport is now a properly-run, well-oiled machine.

Exciting times call for the opening up of a host of avenues in any industry. The MMA market is ripe for investment in terms of sportspersons, monies, fight properties, TV channel deals, reality shows, and so much more. In collaboration with AIMMAA, there is already a bunch of MMA promotions launching in 2016, where at least three different companies will be coming out with three totally new, different, and exciting formats. My belief is that they will all be very successful. You can thus see that the ease of doing business in this sector is getting effortless. For any company to invest into the MMA market, now it is pretty much just a copy paste of what is actually required. You have a system, the fighters, and a governing body that ensures a major part is taken care of. Any player now has it tailor-made in terms of investing in the Indian MMA circuit, because it is quite well established at the grassroots and at the infrastructure level.   

To give one a better understanding of the kind of investment that will give you a bang for your buck, well, for a company to adopt MMA as a brand for themselves, they would need to invest into a minimum of a 3-5 year plan. This would involve a combination of on ground events, online and social media campaigning, signing up legitimate fighters, a proper legal system in place, and finally a good TV deal, which would give them value for their investment. This is a time-tested formula and for those who are serious about investing in MMA, this would be a typical blueprint.

The kind of investment any investor could put in would of course depend on the investor’s game plan. If one is looking at a small investment and growing it upwards, they could have investments as small as maybe a crore and you can plan on doing medium productive benefits or one can go in for a longer plan in terms of INR 50 crore or further still, a 100-crore investment, which would involve a long-term big budget series of events, along with reality shows and all the other requisites that come with having a proper MMA company. The reason why past MMA promoters have not been as successful as they would have wanted to be, is because they began with a long-term plan but got hasty in the short term. MMA is a productive progressive investment if one sticks with their strategy. The progression is simple. One needs to understand that they will begin with a loss in the first year, a no profit no loss in the second year, a partial profit in the third year, and in the fourth and fifth year is where that company can start to see actual profit making.

To give you a further idea, when BodyPower - a global fitness media business, came to India a little over two years ago, their approach was simple. They wanted to bring the BodyPower Expo - Europe’s largest indoor consumer sport, fitness, and nutrition exhibition, to India. Initially, they looked at MMA as a source of entertainment. People who attended the expo got an added value of watching professional fights. However, after the first expo in 2014, they started to realize this could be more than a simple object of entertainment. They asked AIMMAA to set up an event format, which would possibly entail a long-term relationship. In 2015, I designed an event format, which wasn’t just pro fights in a cage but rather, sport MMA, grappling, amateur fights, and pro fights, all part of a 2-day programme. The 2016 expo is going to focus more on the hard-core aspects of MMA. One can clearly see that our relationship with BodyPower has been well-cemented, such that, this MMA format has become a very integral part of the BodyPower Expo in the UK and South Africa!

Besides monetary investment, the Indian MMA market is open to a wealth of non-fiscal investment. Trainers, those with expertise, those with ideas on new formats, and even foreign fighters who wish to come and compete here on a very professional platform; opportunities abound for one and all in the Indian MMA market. The lights are bright, the crescendo is here, and we ain’t getting knocked out!


Daniel Isaac

The author Daniel Isaac is National Commissioner, AIMMAA and began promoting Mixed Martial Arts in India in early 2000 with Tigers Gym. He has travelled worldwide with his fighters to make a mark for Indian MMA fighters on the global circuit and in 2004 helped register the AIMMAA [originally under the name All India Kickboxing Council]. His name is synonymous with all major developments of the sport of MMA in India till date.

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