The 12th FCC takes place today in Mumbai. In the build up to the fights we sat down for an interview with founder and director of the FCC, Prashant Kumar
Let’s start by getting to know you. What is your background? What got you started in MMA?
I have a Black Belt in Taekwondo. I have also trained in Kickboxing and Muay Thai. I further cross trained in Judo and wrestling. I got into MMA because I used to participate in Free Style Fighting in Mumbai the early 90’s (1990 to 1993). In 1994, I read about the UFC in the Black Belt Magazine, and that’s where the idea of launching an MMA network in India on a proper scale came about
What made you want to launch your own promotion?
I wanted to create a platform for talented Indian martial artists, most of whom came from rural India, to showcase their skills. I also wanted to bring about a change in the system by introducing Pro Fighting, where the participants would not spend a single rupee to participate, but instead, would get paid a purse to participate, besides their travel, stay etc. being looked after by the organisation
What are your goals for the FCC and where do you see the promotion in 5 years?
The goals are currently to create awareness of the sport in India, have Pan India tournaments, and promote local talent, and build up the heroes. We are also working to launch a League Format soon, pretty much like the other sports leagues. We have 7 teams ready as of now so 5 years from now, we see FCC as a Premier Leading MMA Brand in the country, and also a name to reckon with on the international circuit
Is there any plan to get the FCC televised in the near future? If so could you share some details about that?
Yes, there are plans to televise events, but it’s too early to speak about that
The general trend with the FCC has been one event a year. Is that something we should expect to change in 2016 or do you think it’ll be a while before we see FCC 13?
The general trend was one show in 3 or 4 months. There was a gap of almost a year between events in the middle which upset the rhythm, but it was due to personal reasons. But now we’re back with a proper plan in place, and FCC 13 onwards should hopefully be the League
All but 2 of the FCC events have taken place in Mumbai (the other 2 in Goa). Do you have any plans in place to expand to different areas of the country?
Yes, we plan to take FCC shows Pan India
What lessons have you learnt from the SFL?
There was nothing to learn from the SFL. We are in a happy situation, and things are going as per plan
How do you go about identifying fighters to compete in the FCC? What criteria do they have to meet?
We have selections on a regular basis. We typically look for skill, endurance, conditioning etc. in potential candidates
Which up and coming Indian fighters do you have your eyes on?
Harshad Sadgir, Sagar Barde
What are the main challenges facing MMA in India today?
Lack of awareness, Finance, and sponsorships
Do you see mainstream acceptance of the sport in India in the near future?
Yes, it’s a matter of time. People are very open to alternative sports today, and there is a big target audience in India for MMA
With the lack of quality coaching available to fighters today, are you looking to launch any grass roots initiatives to assist fighters in rounding out their game?
Yes. In fact, we do hold MMA training camps on a regular basis for fighters to train, and improve on their skill sets
Moving away from the fighters for a minute, do you find it difficult to get referees and judges given the limited exposure and low pay of the sport?
Not really. The referees and judges who work with us are all experienced Martial Artists who follow the sport internationally, and are completely clued in to the international scenario, so it is much easier for them to adapt to their jobs
Has it been frustrating trying to educate people about the sport who can’t look beyond shirtless men in a cage?
It’s human nature to watch people fight. We’ve noticed that on several occasions on the streets, where 2 people could be exchanging profanities, without exchanging a single blow, but there is an enraptured audience standing around, and watching, and enjoying the spectacle. The sport is relatively easy to understand in its totality, as compared to other sports which have a lot of technicalities and given our rich wrestling culture, MMA is not that difficult to understand. The real challenge lies in creating the awareness
Finally, if you could talk to someone who has never watched MMA or seen an FCC event before, what would you tell them?
I’d tell them it’s like something they’ve never experienced, or seen before. It’s one thing to watch fights on the movie screen, but it’s a totally different experience to watch MMA fights live. It’s better than any drug in the world
You can follow Aditya Sheth on @AdityaSheth14