First international fight to light up Matrix Fight Night homecoming

Touted as India’s premier MMA promotion, MFN 7 will be headlined by its first-ever international fight between Afghanistan’s Abdul Azim Badakhshi and Brazilian Marcelo Guarilha.

Afghanistan's Abdul Azim Badakhshi (left) faces off against Brazil's Marcelo Guarilha (right).   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Matrix Fight Night (MFN) – the biggest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition in India – returns to the country for its seventh edition at the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad on Friday after holding its last three iterations in the UAE.

Touted as India’s premier MMA promotion, MFN 7 will be headlined by its first-ever international fight between Afghanistan’s Abdul Azim Badakhshi and Brazilian Marcelo Guarilha.

"I have trained really hard for this fight. I want to win. People back in Afghanistan have faced hardships in recent times. I have focused all of those emotions on winning this fight. If I could spread happiness in Afghanistan with a win here, I will feel proud," Badakhshi said during a virtual press conference.

Guarilha, too, admitted that he had a big responsibility on his shoulders to win the bout on Friday for his nation. "I have a big responsibility. This is why I am training every day. I am never afraid. I was born to do this. MMA is in my blood, and I am always ready to fight," he said.

Highlighting the promotion’s high standards, All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA) Commissioner Daniel Isaac said that the MFN would produce the first big Indian champion in the sport.

READ: MFN 7: English teacher to MMA fighter - the story of Ishika Thite

“Even the Olympic level Indian wrestlers will have a hard time with our MMA fighters. MMA fighters know Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). MMA fighters know how to punch. MMA fighters know how to knee. They know how to elbow, and they know how to kick. No wrestler can take that. Even though they are trying to seek the best wrestlers to find the next big MMA champion, the next big MMA champion will come out of MFN.”

Isaac, tasked with ensuring the health and safety of the competitors, stressed on the importance of the Global Authority for Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s (GAMMAF) weight-cut policy guidelines that will be implemented at MFN 7.

“The weight cut is the biggest part of health and safety. There is documented evidence that because of bad weight cuts, in many other MMA promotions, fighters have actually died. We want to ensure that never happens in Indian MMA,” he said.

Director Operations at MFN, Alan Fenandes reckoned that international competition would help in raising the standards of Indian MMA. “With these two guys (Badakhshi and Marcelo) fighting on the card, these guys (Indian fighters) need to understand that they have a lot of catching up to do. The sky is the limit now," he added.

“We have a pathway that is defined to reach the MFN platform. That pathway is defined by AIMMAA - the governing body for the sport in India. These guys conduct year-round trials and selections and amateur tournaments throughout the country. We have talent scouting managers who look at these options of events that AIMMAA organises. Every tournament we get a list of top fighters and then we shortlist some of the fighters and give them another round of trials so that they can finally make it to the MFN platform,” Fenandes explained when asked about the selection process.

While GAMMAF Vice-President Sudhir Rathod lavished praised on the promotion for “raising the standards of MMA in India and across the world”, owner and co-founder Krishna Shroff called MMA the present of the sporting world and added that MFN would continue to grow bigger and better.

Where and when to watch Matrix Fight Night 7?

MFN 7 will be streamed live from 7 PM IST onwards on BookMyShow on pay-per-view basis.

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