Some of the biggest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters of the world, including the likes of Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Georges St. Pierre, could soon be on their way to India with global fitness leaders Reebok planning to expand their foray with the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the country.
According to a report published in the Times of India, Reebok - which announced a groundbreaking partnership with the MMA promotion company last year – could be on the verge of opening retail stores known as 'Fight Shops' across the country.
The main idea behind the venture is to give the growing popularity of the combat sport in India a much-needed impetus, and take it to every nook and corner of the country.
"India has a growing number of UFC fans. We have big plans for UFC and will start with six Fight Shops in top metros and roll out more in the near future," Dave Thomas, MD, Adidas Group (India), said.
German sports goods maker Adidas is the parent company of Reebok.
The grand unveiling of the UFC 'Fighter Kits' took place in New York in June and the event was graced by a host of UFC stars including defending UFC women's bantamweight champion of the world Rousey.
According to the TOI report, apart from featuring a variety of UFC kits, gloves, mitts, and other fighting gear in the 'Fight Shops', trainers from the world of MMA will be present to give consumers an idea about the sport and help them enrol for classes to practice it.
"India boasts of three million fans out of the 10 million UFC fans on Facebook," said Kanika Mittal, head of brand marketing at Reebok India. "UFC-based films such as Brothers, starring Bollywood stars Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra, is a testament to UFC's growing popularity here."
It is also believed that Reebok is also looking to partner with Sony Six/Kix - the official broadcasters of UFC in India - to introduce a competitive league featuring some of the top UFC fighters in India.
Reebok already holds associations with global franchisees such as CrossFit, which was introduced in India. A number of gyms have been opened in various cities across India that are affiliated with Reebok and qualified CrossFit trainers are roped in to be a part of the gyms.