The mixed-martial-arts (MMA) scene in India continues to grow quickly as more users tune into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) every weekend and watch exciting fight cards from the premier MMA organization in the world.
The MMA fan base has not only grown in India but the number of aspiring MMA athletes and MMA gyms in India has also increased. One of the reasons why the popularity of MMA has soared was because MMA fighter Bharat Khandare got drafted by the UFC.
Khandare Loses Fight And Gets Suspended
Bharat Khandare was the first Indian fighter to be signed by the UFC and that got the attention of MMA fans and non-MMA fans. Khandare who fights in the bantamweight division had his first fight in the UFC on November 25, 2017. He fought a young Chinese fighter at that time called Yadong Song who submitted Khandare in the first round by guillotine choke.
While Bharat Khandare’s first UFC fight was a disappointing and short lived experience, it did wonders for the MMA community back in India. Many expected Khandare to bounce back and get a win under his belt but it did not happen.
Khandare failed a routine drug tested carried out by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after multiple banned substances including tamoxifen and exogenous boldenone was found in his system. Khandare received a two year suspension from USADA which he accepted.
This was a big blow for Indian MMA to see its first UFC fighter get suspended for steroids. His two year suspension also did not bode well for his reputation or his fighting future as had to sit out two years. Khandare now has an MMA record of 6 fights, 3 losses. His last two fights have been losses which mean that it is now imperative for Khandare to win his next fight and do so impressively.
Khandare Wants To Fight In The UFC In 2021
Khandare’s suspension is now over and the Indian MMA star is eager to get back to fighting. He has made a couple of posts on Instagram tagging the UFC and UFC President Dana White reminding them that his ban is over and that he is ready to fight again in 2021.
The UFC have so far not booked any fight for Khandare. The premier MMA organization is currently using Yas Island in Abu Dhabi to book international fighters who cannot travel to the United States due to COVID-19. The UFC is starting 2021 with three fight cards in Abu Dhabi during Jan 2021.
Since Khandare is not booked on any of these fight cards at Yas Island, it means that he will most likely have to wait for the UFC to return to Fight Island later in 2021. If COVID-19 is brought under control through the vaccine, then other locations in Asia might be used by the UFC.
Will Khandare Be Successful In 2021?
While Khandare is keen to get back to fighting in the UFC and resume his fighting career, the question is how prepared is he for the UFC? His first fight which lasted for a little over 4 minutes showcased the massive difference in fighting potential between Khandare and Song.
Khandare who has trained at the famous Jackson-Wink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico (the same gym that Jon Jones and Holly Holm trains at) has been training in India for these last two years. India clearly does not have great MMA trainers as the sport is still very new.
Khandare was advised after his fight UFC fight to make the trip to Phuket and train at the same MMA gym that UFC bantamweight champ Petr Yan trains at. However, it does not appear that Khandare has taken that advice. If Khandare fights again in the UFC and loses, t is quite possible that he will get cut.