Bharat Khandare: The first Indian-born athlete to fight in the UFC
Tomorrow marks a historic moment for the Indian mixed martial arts community. Maharashtra-based fighter, Bharat Khandare, will step into the very octagon that has seen the likes of legends like Royce Gracie and Chuck Lidell. Though earlier this year, Canadian fighter, Arjan Singh Bhullar, became the first Indian-origin contender to sign onto the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bharat is bound to make a stronger connect with regional fans—since this featherweight athlete was born and raised in the small town of Bhagur.
Bharat is no newbie to the sport, he hails from a family of contact sports enthusiasts. “My father is a brown belt in Karate and my brothers are wrestlers,” explained the 28-year-old, who boasts a professional fight card with five wins and two losses. Though UFC’s Fight Night 122, set to unfold in Shanghai, is a clear attempt by the American brand to break into the massive Chinese market, it definitely is a great opportunity for this wrestler-turned-MMA submission specialist to make his mark. “There are very few people who get the chance to fight for the UFC. It’s an honour and privilege to actually be here,” admits Bharat, who was previously competing in the Super Fight League, where he went 5-0 with five stoppages.
In his debut matchup, Bharat will face China’s very-own Song Yadong, who has replaced veteran fighter Pinguang Liu on a week’s notice. Song, who is six years younger than his Indian opponent, has a record of nine wins/three losses and is just one of over ten Chinese fighters on the undercard. “The opponent change didn’t make too much of a difference to me because I’m completely ready for this bout. Song has a background in wrestling and also has a little bit of striking. He’s got good amount of experience
in the fighting sports too, so I think it’s a good match-up,” concludes Bharat who trained at New Mexico’s Jackson Wink MMA academy alongside bigwigs including Jon Jones.
Watch him duke it out on 25th November, 2.15 PM.
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