India’s Anshul Jubli said he is determined to avenge the loss of his compatriot Pawan Maan Singh during his pivotal Road to UFC lightweight final clash with Indonesia’s Jeka Saragih in Las Vegas on Saturday.
While the 28-year-old Anshul has a shot at history of being only the second India-born man to win a UFC contract, he affirmed that the fight had its personal edge.
“ Jaise hi Jeka (Saragih) won his semifinal bout, maine bola ab Pawan bhai ka badla lene ka time aa gaya hai (As soon as Jeka won his semifinal match, I declared that it was time to take revenge on him),” Jubli told during an interaction with the media on Tuesday.
The dangerous Saragih had beaten Pawan Maan with a Knock Out (KO) finish in the quarterfinal of the tournament in June 2022.
Anshul appeared to be in high spirits ahead about his fight. “The game plan is simple, I will dominate the fight and break Jeka until he collapses. I will finish the fight in three rounds.”
After preparing for three months at the SOMA fight club in Bali, Anshul touched down in Vegas with his manager Leo Wang before the final.
“No, not at all (on being anxious before the bout). I believe I was born to do this and have no pressure. I do feel a sense of responsibility to the Indian MMA community. I’m well prepared and ready for anything. Agar main nahi toh kaun? (if not me, then who?),” he added.
Anshul has worked on his core strengths and grappling techniques with his strength and conditioning coach Deepak KC in Indonesia.
“My cardio and stamina are excellent,” Anshul remarked about his preparation against the Indonesian. “My last opponent (Kyung Pyo Kim) finished nearly 80% of his games, and I believe he was far superior to Jeka, but I still beat him.”
However, the fighter from Uttarakhand does not disregard his opponent Saragih, who has a stellar record heading into the final. Saragih has won eight matches of his 15 fights via KOs - a conversion rate of more than 55 per cent.
“Anything can happen in MMA. If he lands a good shot on my chin, I could be knocked out, but the chances are low. I know my range and how to fight him. When you engage with him inside, he is very dangerous, but I am not going to fight his fight. Instead, (I) will make him fight my fight,” Anshul said.
Anshul’s coach, Siddharth Singh, had previously told Sportstar that he was unsatisfied with Anshul’s semifinal performance, given his potential.
“I’m also disappointed with my performance in the last round, but that’s because I was injured and didn’t train for grappling for that fight. I tore my MCL and then broke my finger, so I couldn’t train for three weeks,” Anshul explained.
“What no one knows is that he (Kim) threw a punch from the ground that landed on the solar plexus and I felt like my soul had left my body. These are the issues that occurred last time, but I am confident that they will not occur in the upcoming fight,” he said.
Anshul relocated from Thailand’s Tiger Muay Thai Club to Indonesia’s SOMA Fight Club to level up for the final.
“SOMA is a very professional club. They treat you like family and treat everyone equally. If you ask any Indian amateur fighter, there are at least 15 of them in the club, and they all receive the same treatment as me.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have found coach Mike and team SOMA. I didn’t have to worry about anything else, my diet and training sessions were all pre-planned and scheduled in advance so that I could eat nutritious food and train well,” Anshul said.
*Watch Anshul Jubli in Road to UFC - Finals LIVE on Sony Sports Ten 2 (English) channels from 8:30 am IST on 5th February 2023