bharat kandare gi
This could be India’s MMA breakthrough star, Bharat Kandare.

MMA in India is at its very inception, it is a very new concept and a very new sport to the Indian masses. The sport is however developing with great speed and has hence seen many superstars on the rise.

One such pioneer of the sport in India is Maharashtra’s Bharat “Daring” Kandare. Bharat is a former Super Fight League (SFL) featherweight champion and has managed a 5-fight win streak with an impressive 22-second knockout in March. Bharat comes from a humble background, and is one of the most talented MMA fighters in India.

Fighting out of one of the best MMA gyms in all of India, Superhuman Gym, Bharat stands as one of the most impressive and dominating MMA fighters in the country.

Bharat is one of those individuals who has managed to use Internet as a boon. Being a wrestler and coming from a humble background, the submission machine discussed his personal and professional life with us and explained how social media helped him find his way to the MMA cage. This is what he had to say.

MMA is not a very popular sport in India. What got you into MMA?

“I got introduced to MMA through Internet. Coming from a wrestling background I did not know much about MMA. I learnt of it through Youtube and learnt of kickboxing. Soon I developed interest in the sport and decided to try my hands on it.”

Discussing his influence and his journey, Bharat informs that coming from a small town he never really had anyone who served as an influence.

Who was your influence and describe your journey so far?

“It has been a bouncy ride with many ups and downs. I know that everyone sees low points in their life, right now I am not going through a rough phase but there were times when I saw some really bad nights. All this has helped me a lot. ‘Jo kuch bhi ho, maza bohot ata hai’, translating it means that whatever happens at the end of the day it is fun.”

Most of us usually complain about receiving no support and quit our projects and then we have a few achievers who face the challenges, accept the insults and turn into shinning diamonds. Bharat is an achiever, he received no support from people but he did not care.

Did people around you support the decision of you taking MMA as a career?

“When I decided to take MMA as a career, people would laugh at me. Most of them would say I would not be able to make it and the others did not know what MMA was. The main problem in our country is that we have no exposure towards MMA. Because of this even my parents thought that having a career in MMA was impossible. Soon as I started gaining popularity my parents started backing me and since then have been an iron hand support. People till date try to pull me down but it does not affect me as I have my parents and close friends encouraging me.”

Combat sports is not a popular option for a career in India, and this is quite surprising as India is known for its wrestling and martial arts history. Hence I decided to ask the expert on why did people in India have such an attitude.

You are one of the fair few Indians who take combat sport as a career, can you give your opinion on why Indian masses do not select combat sport as a career option?

“Oh the answer is pretty simple, our country provides little exposure towards combat sports. Forget MMA, we right now have very few professional boxers. To a certain extent the Indian masses are not even aware of sports such as mixed martial arts, many promotions have tried but they did not have any direction. Now take a look at Kabaddi, they managed to get that sport to a popularity of a new level. If someone is willing to support and promote the sport in that way, then and only then is it possible to get Indian masses in the sport.”    

Bharat stands as one of those who does not like taking the fight to judges, he is that one out of 10 fighters who likes to explore the savage side of MMA. Hence it comes as no surprise that all of Bharat’s victories come via knockout or submission. I decided to ask him to elaborate on his fighting style.

You are known for finishing your opponents. Out of your 5 victories 4 are submissions and 1 is a knockout, can you describe your mental state as you take on an opponent. What is your background in the combat sport world?

“I come from a wrestling background hence having a good ground game comes as no surprise, my aim in a fight is to destroy my opponents. I usually take my opponents to ground and finish them off. Describing my mental state…um… at the end of the day I am human hence I am nervous going into a fight.”

We started discussing his last fight, in which he managed to score a sensational 22 second knockout.

His opponent was highly decorated Japanese fighter, Kazuhisa Watanbe. This fight was held by Ganryujima in March. Kazuhisa was a known trash talker and was someone who can break his opponents down mentally. This was definitely the toughest test of Bharat’s young career and emerging victorious by the way of first round knockout definitely spoke tons about the talent of the Indian sensation. We spoke about the fight.

“As I said earlier I am known for taking opponents on ground. My opponent was a person who loved to trash talk, his main aim was to fill his opponent with anger so that they make silly mistakes. I was ready for it, hence I knew he was expecting me to go for his legs and I decided to surprise him. Ending his statement with Indian tadka he says ‘main usahi hairstyle se bahar aya, jis hairstyle se main andar gaya tha’. Translating it he says that he walked out without a strand of his hair out of place.

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That’s me, Paarth (right) with emerging Indian MMA superstar Bharat Kandare (left) at Superhuman Gym.

As I pointed out earlier “Daring” stands as one of the most successful Indian MMA fighters, so I asked him whether he had a message for Indian youngsters who try to pursue MMA as a career. A man of few words Bharat had a precise and impactful answer.

What is your message to youngsters who are aspiring to pursue MMA as a career?

“I understand that it is very difficult to take up something new, people will laugh and say stuff. You do not have to worry about what they say. And I would really want to talk about these other people. They love to pull you down, all of you why do you do this? You are useless, why pull the hardworking and ambitious down?”

Many fighters have a nickname and all these nicknames have a reason. I tried to get an insight on this nickname.

What is the story behind adopting the nickname “Daring”?

“When I started MMA training, kicks and punches were something very new to me. Wrestling is about grappling, and kicking or punching someone was very different for me, absorbing them to a certain extent was weird. It was very difficult for my fellow players to change their habit and switch to MMA, but I had the ‘daring’ to absorb these blows, hence the name.”

On how he manages his time, this is what Bharat had to say.

Everyone needs a good night sleep; do you manage to get one?

“I work as a gym trainer in the morning and some of the people who come for MMA classes come in evening, hence managing time for practice is really hard, hence at night I work in the gym. I can either sleep or prepare myself, no one has a perfect schedule, you need to make your schedule perfect.”

India desperately needs that one superstar who can attract masses to MMA. Asking Bharat weather, he was thinking about becoming that one super celebrity who can do it, his response was really good.   

It is a star who attracts the masses to the sport. Do you aspire to be the star, and take the responsibility of being India’s first MMA star? By this you may actually serve as a great example to various youngsters.

“I would love to act as an inspiration to my fellow young athletes. We need pioneers who can grab the attention of youngsters all across the nation. And let’s take a look at professional boxing, no one used to talk about it and now as Vijender Singh gains popularity and success people are thinking about taking it as a career. Similarly, we need pioneers and superstars from MMA who can bring the Indian masses to this huge MMA industry.”

As he completed the answer, Bharat’s manager, Somesh Kamra, who is a known MMA enthusiast, was sitting nearby said:

“Bharat is a humble as well as hardworking person, he does not give up. Take a look at his past, people made fun of him, did not support him yet he stands over here as probably the best 145-pound fighter in India. He is definitely an inspirational person and hence can definitely be the star that Indian MMA desperately needs.”   

I decided to end the interview with the most important question, what was Bharat ‘Daring’ Kandare’s main goal. The answer was precise, clear and bold.

As a sports man what is your ultimate dream?

“I want to become the best MMA fighter on planet, which means I want the UFC featherweight title.”

This answer clearly highlights his ambition and determination.

Thank you Bharat for your time.

Readers thank you for your time, please do comment and let us know your thought.

Signing off for now. Be sure to check out the photos below and follow Bharat on Twitter at @KandareBharat.

-Paarth Pande

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