Brave Combat Federation made a bold move on April 23rd 2017 when they held Brave 5: Go for Glory in Mumbai, India. The event was by far one of the most stacked cards ever assembled in the history of Indian MMA. The event featured some of the most talented and popular Indian MMA fighters, some of the most talked about prospects in MMA and had large scale promotion on various platforms. On top of all of this people had to pay nothing for entrance as the event was absolutely free for all. So, on paper the event was beyond doubt one of the greatest events in the history of MMA. But did the execution go right?
Here is a breakdown of the entire event.
Hardeep Rai vs. Aranan Chaiyasan
The event was kicked off by debuting prospects, Hardeep Rai and Aranan Chaiyasan. Rai entered the fight as a healthy favorite and he not only was more experienced, but also had the crowd behind him. Rai went on to say that he was going to finish his opponent in round 1 and he did just that. Rai quickly brought the game to ground, secured an armbar and got the tap in less than 180 seconds, thus winning his professional debut. Rai was a decorated amateur MMA fighter with a record of 10-2 and had won several titles.
Bharat Kandare vs. Ahmed Faress
The next fight on the card saw the return of decorated hometown boy, Bharat Kandare, as he went one-on-one against Egyptian submission specialist Ahmed Faress. Bharat was coming from the UFC fighter development program and was keen on fighting in his hometown. Despite being more experienced, Faress was the underdog. However, that night didn’t see the result the crowd wanted. After a back and forth of 2 minutes, Bharat went for a takedown. It looked like the fight had started to lean in Bharat’s favor but the reality was otherwise. Bharat in a grappling exchange was caught in an armbar. After failing to scramble out of the hold, the former SFL featherweight champion was forced to tap leaving the crowd a bit bummed. Faress with the win improved his record to 14-2 whereas Bharat fell to 5-2.
Mohd Farhad Rafiq vs. Irfan Khan
Up next was a fight between knockout artist Mohd Farhad Rafiq and Irfan Khan. Khan was taking the fight on very short notice as the Farhad’s opponent Jeremy Pacatiw was rescheduled to face Farhad’s training partner Chaitanya Gavali. The fight did not see much action as Farhad landed a huge shot in the opening round that floored Khan. That was followed by series of heavy shots on the ground to end the fight. With the win Farhad improves his record 9-2 and Khan falls to 7-6.
Nelson Paes vs. Rondaldo Dy
This was followed by Nelson Paes taking on Ronaldo Dy. Nelson is one of the most popular Indian fighters. He entered the fight riding a three-fight winning streak. He is much loved by Indian fans and hence the fight was one of the most awaited fights on the card. But the fight never saw an outcome. As soon as the fight started the two featherweights charged at each other leading to an accidental head collision. The fight was then stopped as Paes couldn’t continue. The fight was then called off, with the result being a No Contest.
Alejandro Martinez vs. Paulo Bananada
The next encounter on the card was the fight of the night. The fight was between 150-pounders Alejandro Martinez and Paulo Bananada. The first round saw the two constantly trading shots and had the crowd’s complete attention. Paulo even managed to rock Martinez multiple times in the round with his heavy blows. Round 2 followed a similar story with the duo exchanging heavy shots. The fight was going good until Martinez caught Bananada with a flurry of punches that completely rocked Bananada and the referee stopped the fight. However, Paulo didn’t like the stoppage and thought of it as premature. He did give the ref a thumbs up but he still thought that the fight could have continued.
Chaitanya Gavali vs. Jeremy Pacatiw
The next guy to enter the cage was one of the most popular MMA fighters of India, Chaitanya Gavali, as he went one-on-one against Philippines’s Jeremy Pacatiw. The fight was again an entertaining one. The opening round saw Pacatiw ending up on the wrong side of a takedown and fending off submission attempts. However, as soon as round 2 started the tide started changing. Gavali looked gassed in round 2 and hence ate a lot of shots. He tried for multiple takedowns and tired himself even further. The round could have gone either way but Pacatiw certainly looked better. Round 3 was completely Pacatiw. He dominated the round with multiple strikes and didn’t allow Gavali to take the game to ground. The fight was very exciting and in my opinion could have gone either way. The judges however, had it for Pacatiw.
Erick da Silva vs. Brian Hooi
The next fight saw Brazilian Erick da Silva taking on Brian Hooi. Da Silva had the crowd behind him. Hooi started off the fight at a good pace as he stuffed the takedown attempts of da Silva but couldn’t keep up the game in the coming rounds. In round 2 and 3 he ended up on the wrong side of grappling exchanges, finding himself in bad positions. The Brazilian however could not finish Hooi and the fight went to the judges. One judge did see the fight going towards Hooi but the rest clearly disagreed. Da Silva walked out with his hand raised winning via split decision.
Alexa da Silva vs. Jakub Kawalewicz
The next fight was between Brazilian hot favorite Alexa da Silva and Polish standout Jakub Kowalewicz. Da Silva entered the fight as a healthy favorite because of his decorated record of 18-0. The fight however didn’t go the way he wanted it to. Da Silva failed completely against Kowalewicz and hence had the unanimous verdict against him. With this win Kowalewicz improved his record to 9-3 and improved his win streak to three. Whereas da Silva lost his perfect record and dropped down to 18-1.
Gurdarshan Mangat vs. Abdul Muneer
Then we had the co-main event of the evening as Canadian-Indian Gurdarshan Mangat went against Abdul Muneer. The two met in the cage to sort a minor feud which started when Mangat called out Muneer. The duo had several heated exchanges on various platforms. The match was the most awaited fight on the card. The fight was as good as people expected it to be. Mangat gave an amazing performance. Despite moving up two weight classes he managed to outclass Muneer. Muneer tried to land his heavy blows but failed as Mangat ducked and dodged him. However, he did make the night entertaining for the audience. Muneer did not give up. He ate all the shots and took heavy damage but kept going. The fight saw Mangat walking out with a unanimous decision.
Karl Booth vs. Tahar Hadbi
The main event was between English prospect Karl Booth and Algerian knockout artist Tahar Hadbi. The two went on a war. The opening round saw Booth landing heavy shots and leading the action. He continued the game plan for round 2 but all of the heavy blows resulted in him gassing out. In round 3 Booth continued marching forward but instead of landing clean shots he simply ran into Hadbi’s punches. The fight went to the judges and they had it unanimously for Booth.
The judging and planning of AIMMAF
The stacked card wasn’t the only reason why Brave 5 was a historic event. It was also the first ever large scale event organized by AIMMAF (All India MMA Federation). The federation was formed by fighters for the fighters. Now Indian MMA fighters have time and again expressed that they have no support from various recognized bodies of Indian MMA, so the AIMMAF was formed in an attempt to get recognition and support to Indian MMA fighters. Is AIMMAF better than the rest of the bodies is something which we’ll come to know as time goes by, but they, at least for now, have kept their promises.
AIMMAF certainly did an amazing job in hosting the event. They stopped the Nelson Paes and Ronaldo Dy match in time and gave the perfect judgment of declaring the fight a No Contest. They stopped each match on time and made right decisions. One perfect example of their fair judgment was seen in the Chaitanya Gavali and Jeremy Pacatiw match. Despite Gavali being a hometown guy, he lost the decision. The fight was a close one but Jeremy won the match. Under normal circumstances commissions usually favor people from their town but AIMMAF took a fair stance and kept the judgment clean.
However, the federation clearly failed at some points. A perfect example of their failure was seen in Martinez and Paulo. The fight could have gone on. Even Martinez said that he felt that Paulo could have eaten a shot or two more. Premature stoppages affect a fighter’s career brutally because the fighter is left under the impression that he could have won the match. On top of that Paulo had also won round 1 and was clearly leading the fight on the score cards. He could have survived the blows and have taken the fight to round 3.
Another serious issue was seen in the main event. Carl Booth, in the post fight interview, said that he had signed the deal for a 5 round fight. The fight was stopped after 3 rounds. This an serious issue. Most fighters plan their game plan according to the number of rounds. As the governing body of the event, AIMMAF should have immediately contacted Brave and cleared the misconception. Instead, they chose to announce the decision which too was questionable. The decision is now being reviewed by the federation but such blunders can cost many fighters a lot. A statement was given by AIMMAF president Aditya Ps (per MMA India Show):
“An official appeal has been lodged with AIMMAF regarding the outcome of the Tahar Hadbi/Carl Booth fight and the events leading to the unanimous decision victory for Carl. The commission, along with our committee members and consulting experts will now follow the appropriate protocols in such cases. The footage will be reviewed along with all the necessary documentation and the commission will then pass its judgment.”
Rest aside, it must be noted that they did an amazing job. All the fights went on smoothly and every hot situation was handled perfectly. There were some mistakes but I am pretty sure they will review them and will work for a better future of Indian MMA.
Reception and live stream failure
MMA is a growing sport in India. It barely has a fan following and is still relatively unknown to the masses. So when Brave announced the event no one expected a full house for the show. But given that the tickets were free, the event was promoted on large platforms and they had every big name in Indian MMA, one would expect a decent amount of fans in attendance. I am very sorry to say that Brave couldn’t get that.
There are multiple reasons to it. MMA doesn’t have a concentrated fan base in India, but it certainly does have clusters. Brave did attract a decent crowd but they clearly couldn’t get every MMA fan in Mumbai to attend the evening. The reason being IPL. India is home to die hard cricket fans. Cricket>MMA. So will people be coming to attend a MMA event at the risk of missing an IPL match? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. NO. On the top of that the event was held on Sunday night. Most people have to go to work on Monday morning. So people dragging themselves out at the risk of being late for work to attend an event of a sport they barely knew anything about was again a big no. Brave clearly failed to attract the audience expected for the greatest MMA event in India.
One major goof up by Brave was the failure of live stream. The stream, surprisingly, stopped working when the fight between Nelson Paes and Ronaldo Dy saw the controversial accidental headbutt. And since then the stream never worked properly. People certainly expect better from a global promotion. Not only were diehard fans from across the globe watching the event online but so were many Indians who were willing to give MMA a chance. Failure of the live stream left them no source and hence Brave lost the chance of earning some new fans and may have turned some off. There can be technical errors by anyone but when a promotion takes the center stage and calls themselves a global platform one starts expecting stuff. So if they were facing some error, as a responsible team, they should have fixed it and connected to the fans as soon as possible. There’s always next time.
If we leave aside the minor failures, one can say that Brave had an amazing event. They produced an excellent card. They may have failed on some fronts but they managed to do something which no one had so far been able to do. That is unite Indian MMA fans. Yes, not every MMA fan made it to the event or got to watch the complete event, but for once every MMA fan in India was taking about an event held by a non-UFC organization. The event was Brave 5.
Apart from that they have also got Indian MMA fighters an alternative promotion to go to. Before Brave most Indian fighters didn’t have any place to compete apart from a few promotions. Almost none of those promotions provided them with global exposure. But Brave gives these fighters the global exposure they have always wanted, and as far as I know, most fighters are happy with the deal they got. If Brave continues the hard work, they can change the landscape of Indian MMA.
I have criticized the promotion because I expect them to deliver. I have pointed out their failures because they certainly have the capability to get Indian MMA on the radar. I must add that this was one of the most organized MMA events in India. It was professionally run and the promotion did a great job with the production. As for what is next for the promotion in India is something that I doubt I can clearly say. Brave 5 at the end of the day was one of the best MMA events India has seen and we look forward to more from Brave Combat Federation.
Watch the full Brave 5: Go For Glory event replay below: