Himanshu Kaushik recently scored a win at ONE Championship, giving Indian MMA a victory on a major international stage, so we talked to him about the state of Indian MMA and his future.
Himanshu Kaushik created waves in the Indian MMA community following his first-round knockout win over Egi Rozten at ONE Championship: Hero’s Ascent. It was a big day for India as Indian fighters didn’t usually find much success in major international promotions. He took some time to answer questions about his last fight, future, state of Indian MMA, and more.
Paarth Pande: You were a Wushu fighter. What got you interested in MMA?
Himanshu Kaushik: When I was practicing Wushu, Super Fight League was launched in India. Wushu fighters like Rajinder Singh Meena and Paritosh were specially invited to fight over there. So after watching them compete, I got interested in the sport. As they didn’t have my weight class, 48KG, I had to wait for a year and build up to 56 KGs. After touching 54 KGs, I emailed them my achievements and they gave me a chance to compete.
PP: Earlier this year you secured a win in ONE Championship. How did it feel? Do you think your win proves that Indian MMA fighters can deliver at international platforms?
HK: After this win, I felt I have managed to do something people before I haven’t. The amount of support and wishes I got made me very happy. Yes, I feel that me, Pooja [Tomar] and many others winning at ONE proves that Indian MMA fighters can come forward. This is the very beginning of Indian MMA, I feel after some time we will also win titles.
PP: Why do Indian fighters find it difficult to win at the international stage?
HK: We are ready for everything but we start panicking. In major events, all the gyms like Phuket Top Team and Gold MMA come with their specialized team. We, on the other hand, only have our cornerman with us. Also, there is a serious shortage of resources in India. Everybody here is solely focused on cricket and wrestling, no one focuses on MMA. So, we only get limited training. The gyms here too are Judo-based or wrestling-based but there is no proper MMA gym. India also lacks proper MMA institutions. Every country has one major gym in their country, India so far doesn’t have one.
PP: What are your thoughts on your last performance? What went wrong?
HK: I wasn’t well. A day before the fight I had loose motions, vomiting, and fever. There was a lot of weakness in my body. Hence, I got tired very quickly in the fight. I did follow my gameplan early in the fight but I didn’t have the stamina.
I was healthy when I took the fight. I fell ill a day before the fight. See, in ONE championship, they weigh you three times. I cleared the first and second attempt. It was the third attempt from which I couldn’t recover. As soon as I had food, I got loose motions. I don’t exactly know what happened. On the day of the fight, where the weight class was 56.9KG, my weight with clothes was 56.4.
PP: Do you plan on fighting soon?
HK: Yes. I will fight this year. I might even fight twice more this year.
PP: What are your thoughts on the current state of Indian MMA?
HK: At the present moment, we are very behind the entire international scene. But if we open up good gyms and fighters get good opportunities, then we can grow. For instance one of the fighters, Roshan [Mainam] was picked by Evolve MMA to train over there for two years. Now the Roshan who will return will be completely different from the Roshan who went from here.