Hardeep Rai: Competing in India at Kumite 1 League Like Completing a Full Circle

Hardeep Rai
Hardeep Rai Credit: SONY SIX

Kumite 1 Leauge featured a little bit of everything over the weekend, and that included a stellar submission win via Von Flue Choke by Jackson-Wink’s Hardeep Rai.

India’s Kumite 1 League kicked off its existence on September 29, holding its first show in Mumbai, India. The inaugural event, with league-backer and former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson looking on, saw Team India take on Team UAE. In the third bout of the evening Hardeep Rai from Team India took on Team UAE’s Mohamed Fawaz. The fight was one of the most anticipated fights of the night, as both the fighters were entering the fight with disappointing performances in their last outings. Yet both had the potential to do big things in the cage.

Ultimately, Rai secured the win via Von Flue Choke in the third round. After the fight he took time off to answer questions about his last fight, fighting in India, his performance and more.

1. How does it feel to be competing in Kumite 1 League?

Rai: It’s quite historical. I saw the cage and the ring and I was like ‘this is something new for MMA. This is revolutionizing MMA.’

2. What are your thoughts on the point system being used?

Rai: I mean you could say it favors strikers. That’s what we do on ground. If you’re active on the ground you score a lot of points. In that case it does benefit fighters. You can’t just lay down in the fight.

3. Your last fight didn’t give the result you wanted. What were your thoughts entering the fight?

Rai: To be honest, it’s not about what are my thoughts entering the fight it’s the thoughts after the fight. It’s about learning from my experience, learning from my opponent, correcting those mistakes and I learnt a lot. I showed today what I am capable of.

4. This was a step up in competition, given your opponent was very experienced. Was this something going on in the back of your head?

Rai: I know I train in the best gym in the world at Jackson-Wink. His experience didn’t faze me. I have had 13 amateur fights, taking that into account it didn’t faze me at all.

5. How does it feel to compete in India?

Rai: It is quite emotional. It’s like completing a full circle. Getting my first win and then coming back to India after my first loss. The crowd was amazing. When I walked out with the Indian flag, everyone cheered for that is an amazing moment.