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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

Other Sport

Capital all set to rumble to SFL
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 05, 2012
First Published: 23:01 IST(5/5/2012)
Last Updated: 23:03 IST(5/5/2012)

As far as testosterone-driven events go, few could top the Sanjay Dutt endorsed Super Fight League (SFL) that had its official weigh-in for the Delhi leg at a mall here on Saturday.

As the ambling shoppers thronged the makeshift stage, more out of curiosity at the sight of bare-chested men flexing their biceps with a bevy of blonde maidens in tow, it seemed the country's first mixed martial arts (MMA) fight league could be another innovative sporting spectacle that's built on more than just the spirit of competition as, ultimately, everyone likes a good fight.

After being hosted by Mumbai and Chandigarh, the capital will see eight bouts of full-contact fighting being held at the Indira Gandhi International Stadium on Sunday. What makes this round more challenging is the presence of fighters from other MMA organizations like Strikeforce and Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Also, the heavyweight clash between the experienced James Thomson and Bobby Lashley of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) fame should be a fitting end to the proceedings.

The fairer side
It's not just men though who will be knocking each other's teeth out. The seventh bout of the evening will see Ukrainian beauty Lena Ovchynnikova wrangle with Glasgow's finest female slugger Joanne Calderwood.

"I took up MMA, primarily muay thai, kickboxing and later Brazilian jiu-jitsu for the fitness and self-defence aspects," the surprisingly  soft-spoken Calder-wood told HT and added, "It's coming up in a big way  in Scotland so, obviously, a lot of women are getting in on this."

Ovchynnikova on the other hand took up MMA cause "she's always been a fighter", said her coach Viktor Lazurko. While she came to the SFL with an unbeaten record, Ovchynnikova came undone in the Mumbai leg against Serbian Sanja Sucevic.

"She made a mistake, she's a four-time kickboxing champion and will bounce back for sure," said Lazurko.

Indian angle
There's a large contingent of Indians also in the reckoning - Delhi's Anup Kumar, Lakwinder Sekhon and Indo-Canadians Kultar Singh Gill (Black Mamba) and Gurdarshan Mangat - who will certainly put on a show worth the money.

Whether a sport or just violent entertainment, the SFL's already got the attention of the Indian masses weaned on stage-managed wrestling.

Now, only a Chuck Norris cameo awaits.


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