Martial art events are a huge draw, be it on the silver screen where a Salman Khan (read Sultan) takes it on his opponents or a cage fight where the fighters batter each other. Such is the format and pull of mixed martial arts (MMA) that the emotions of the viewers remain the same. It does not matter if they are watching it on TV or live from the arena. The action, the roars, the swearing and the sight of blood keep them going.
And, the scenario was no different when the Utkal Karate School and Association of Combat Sports, which has brought cage fight to the state, organised the 8th edition of Yodha fighting championship, a freestyle fighting contest (MMA and Cage Fighting) at Saheed Nagar Indoor Hall from August 6th to 7th August. It is the second time cage fighting has been organized in the city.
Altogether 70 mixed martial artists including three from Odisha had participated in the championship. The first cage fighting was fought between Anupama Swain and Maria-Yabu of Assam and the Odia girl won the match earning a lot of cheer and applause from the audience. Talking to MCL, Swain said, “This was my first MMA and I played the opening match for women. I have learnt this art from Utkal Karate School and I am feeling very fortunate that I have got a chance to showcase my talent and represent my state.”
She further informed, “Defeating Maria was a bit tough for me. In such contests, you cannot always depend on the strategy you have planned for the fight. A lot of action takes place on the spot and you have to use many tricks to win the match.”
To this Maria-Yabu added, “Yes, a lot of tricks are needed for a match like this and that is where I failed. I could have used tricks like playing ground game with her or opting for a single leg technique to win the match but I failed to do that. This is the second time I have faced MMA. My inspiration in this platform has been UFC fighter Ronda- Rousy who has won for six years consecutively, and Mary Kom. I am certainly looking to a bright future in this game.”
Another guy of Assam Kaushik Swarng who lost to Victor Angmi of Nagaland told us that though he enjoyed the match, he got exhausted soon and therefore lost the battle. “I have been involved with MMA for the last two years. My inspiration in this field is George- St. Pierre. Prior to this, I have won two medals in the wrestling field. But I am not just a wrestler. I am also a student and gym trainer. And, wrestling is just my passion. I am not plan-ning to make a career out of this,” he said.
However, unlike Kaushik, Victor Angmi, sees a future for himself in this field. “I have been practicing for nearly three years now and this is the second time I have come to Odisha and won my first match in MMA. I am not sure how far I will succeed but I want to stick to this field for the time being.”
While the participants had a great time fighting it out for victory, the audience also enjoyed all the matches. “It was great to see the fighters engaged in such fierce battles. We had always seen such fights on television or in films but this was for real,” said Pratik Sahoo from among the audience.
“I felt it was a mind game too where each fighter was trying to read the psychology of the other and playing tricks accordingly,” said another spectator, Vishal Ray. The audience, in fact, loved it so much that they are already waiting for the next edition. “It’s quite fun to watch such matches live particularly when you don’t get such opportunities in Odisha. I am hoping next time also, we will get the privilege to watch such fights in our state,” concluded Piyush from the audience.