Indian Mixed Martial Arts star Anshul Jubli is gearing up to take his game to the next level as the world awaits for the Uttarkashi-born fighter to unleash himself on the biggest MMA stage - the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Two months have passed since the 28-year-old became the second Indian-born fighter to get a UFC contract.
Anshul won the Road to UFC tournament in the lightweight division by brushing aside the Indonesian challenge of Jeka Saragih in early March to land a career-changing contract.
Has anything changed since he bagged the pivotal UFC contract? “Nothing. Main wahi Anshul Jubli hu (I am the same Anshul Jubli). I am working on my skills and crafts, just that people got to know me better and began to appreciate what I do,” Anshul told Sportstar.
“My goals are still the same. I tell myself every day that I haven’t achieved anything yet. Bas sarr jhuka kar kaam karte rehna hai, na jyada taaliyan sunni hai na jyada gaaliyan (I just have to keep my head down and continue working hard. Don’t want to get used to either praise or abuse).”
Anshul is training at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia - the same club where he honed his skills before his ‘Road to UFC’ bouts. Despite his training going in full swing, Anshul and his team are yet to have clarity about his debut UFC fight.
“I have no idea whom I’ll be fighting or where it will happen. I’m off camp as of now. It is where you train yourself instead of preparing against any specific opponent.
Despite being off camp, Anshul is maintaining his shape and is fully prepared for an impending fight. “Even today, I had a sparring day, and I did five sessions. I’m in fight-ready condition. Strength, cardio and stamina-wise, I’m all set to fight anytime because UFC can tell us to do so, and then we don’t have any other option,” he said.
Smart work and planning - mantras for success
“The King of Lions” also discussed how he is utilising his time to add more skills to his arsenal.
“I couldn’t work on developing any other skills for the last year because I was only preparing three to four months for each fight (Road to UFC). But now that I have time, I’m devoting it to learn new techniques and planning myself better for the upcoming fights.
“Coming from India, which does not have big names in the MMA circuit nor does it enjoys a large pool of coaches, the only reason I was able to move forward was that I felt I planned smartly with whatever little skill I had,” he said.
Despite all of the fame and growing attention that Anshul received after he signed the contract in UFC, he still remembers his roots and mentions his coach, Siddarth Singh. He said, “ Sid bhai mere coach nahi but mere godfather hai (Sid is not only my coach but also my godfather). Even when I didn’t have these sponsorships and jab mai gareeb tha...(when I was poor), Sid bhai was still with me. He was my trainer and sponsor. In fact, he is like a brother to me. He believed in me and trusted me more than I trust myself. Even when I was down, he used to motivate me by telling me that this is only 10 per cent of my potential and that I’d be surprised where I’d end up if I unleashed my true potential.
“My entire Jiu-Jitsu game is based on what coach Sid has taught me. Every other day, I talk to him and discuss my plans. He is still my head coach, and he oversees all of my preparations and strategies alongside coach Mike Ikilei (Head coach and co-owner of Soma fight club),” he further added.
Carrying the ‘Road to UFC’ legacy forward
Anshul’s success on the global stage not only helped him but has also paved the way for other Indians to enter the sport.
Following the massive success of the first season, the UFC, led by Dana White, announced the second edition of the Road to UFC, which introduces two young Indian faces - Sumit Kumar and Rana Rudra Pratap Singh - into the Octagon.
Rudra Pratap and Anshul had trained together in the past, and the latter praised the former. “I’ve trained with Rana before, and he’s a fighter to watch out for. He has a brilliant attitude and also has the necessary skills to excel in sports,” said Anshul.
“Sumit, I believe, is training in Thailand; I am not yet in touch with him; however, because Rana was training in India and I knew him personally, I have been in contact with him and have tried to share all of my knowledge and experience.
“While competing in the Road to UFC, I received wishes from all over India. I want all of you to support them as well because they are the ones who are sweating it out to make our country proud. I’m hoping that both fighters win their bouts, and if not two, we’ll get at least one more Indian fighter who makes it all the way,” Anshul said.
Sony Sports Network is the official broadcaster of UFC in India.
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