Wannabe MMA fighters, ever dreamt of competing in the octagon in front of an adoring crowd and live television audience, just like your heroes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)?
Well, now’s your moment. Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship (ADFC) will later this year broadcast on national television a programme seeking the next biggest MMA fighter — and provided you’re of Arab descent, you can compete.
Over the next six months, fighters will be assembled from across the region and beyond, all with one common goal – to win the prize of a contract with ADFC to fight on the biggest stage.
ADFC founder Randall Yogachandra explained the thought process behind this unique event to Sport360°. “We are working with a premium broadcast network in the UAE to host the first MMA reality show in the region. It’s an Arabic show, hosted in the region for Arab fighters.
“The format is completely different to what Ultimate Fighter has, but as far as a reality show goes, it has certain elements that have to be standard. Other things will make it our own.
“We’re going to start filming this summer, and by November after an ADFC event we’re looking to broadcast season one on TV. The best Arab fighters will compete, get a three-fight deal with the ADFC and a cash prize if they win. Season one will be in Lebanon, and then we’ll travel to different parts of the region. Once we have the fighters we’re happy with, we’ll put them in ADFC,” he said.
MMA has been growing steadily in the region over the last couple of years, no more so than here in the UAE. Last year, ADFC ran a large-scale event in Zayed Sports City that attracted several thousand spectators, as well as former NFL man Bob Sapp to the octagon.
“Since we started two years ago there’s been six MMA gyms that have opened up, there’s been five shops specifically for MMA in the UAE, there’s about six MMA organisations in the region,” explained Randall. “MMA is getting big, you go to a lot of the gyms and they have some kind of MMA training. Everyone in Dubai, when you go out now, is either a fashion designer, a model, or an MMA fighter.
“We were the first ones here, we’re gonna be here, and we’re not going anywhere, and healthy competition is great,” he continued. “Budget wise, we spare no expense. We invest heavily into our brand and in our shows. We were the first MMA promoters in the region, despite what other organisations are saying.”
So how does this reality show work? Sign-up can be done at www.adfc.ae from early next month, with Randall expecting interest from all over the region – and beyond. “The show will all be one weight class – 77kg. So we’re looking for fighters that are 77kg. In the Arab world, that’s the most common weight. They’re the most exciting. So season one is welterweight.
“We’re also travelling around the region to different gyms and filming their fighters, and we’ll select 50-100 and go from there. Sign-up is free, and we welcome anybody, so long as the fighters are of Arab descent and speak Arabic. We’re even opening this up to the US and Canada because there’s a lot of Arab fighters there.”
Indeed this project has even gone as far as the top dog of the UFC, who has lent his support to Randall and ADFC. “I’ve had some communications with Dana White (UFC president),” explained Randall. “He’s been supportive, he knows we’re not competing with him. He knows we’re not going to touch a single percent of what he’s done, we’re focused on the MENA region. I want to establish ourselves as the UFC of the MENA region.
“With this reality show, I’m either going to create world peace, or World War III…either is good for me, because that’s what we’re playing on.”
What: ADFC TV reality show.
When: Sign-up will commence next month.
Where: www.adfc.ae to register.