The pioneer of Mixed Martial Arts in the MENA region isee Entertainment and Events and ADFC (Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship) are now looking for new areas to promote fighters from Arabic countries. They bring this time an MMA Arabic reality show. isee Entertainment and Events COO Randall Yogachandra reveals to Physique Magazine about their plans for the MMA reality show. The first ADFC champion Shamil Abdurahimov also presented during the talk as an ambassador of the show.
“MMA Reality show is a concept that ADFC and isee came up with together to create something more unique for Arab fighters. Since we’ve started, there have been many followers. We always want to push the boundaries and now we want to take it to the next level,” said Randall Yogachandra.
The reality show will showcase 16 of the top Arab fighters in the region. All welterweights (77kg) and it will be broadcast on a major network. Randall says they are still negotiating about selection process but he’s certain that it’s going to be a major success. They’re weighing in on all options to ensure that there is maximum viewership for this show.
“We’re looking to have the show shot after Ramadan. We’re hoping to air the first season in January 2013,” said Randall. “The best way to help Arab fighters is creating a reality show. We could unite all the Arab fighters and all other organizations to come and show their fighters talent on national TV. It’ll increase the awareness of Arab fighters around the region and internationally. It’ll also develop the awareness of MMA showing the potential of its growth,” he added.
Shamil Abdurahimov came to UAE all the way from Russia to support the MMA reality show. After winning the ADFC title and one million dirhams last year, this 30-year-old heavyweight MMA fighter with 13 wins out of 15 fights, is looking forward to the next ADFC edition to defend his title. He’s so excited about the MMA reality show. “The reality show is really good in many ways for all Arab fighters; I support the MMA reality show and I’m so excited to be a part of it,” said Shamil.
“Shamil is our first ADFC champion and of course we want to include him into the reality show. He’s done a lot in Russia, now we are trying to bring him and make him help us develop MMA in the region. So he’s going to be with us for the reality show,” said Randall. Soon after ADFC, Shamil signed a contract with an organization in Russia and they didn’t want him to fight anywhere else. That was the main reason of the drop in the number of his fights during this period.
Shamil’s brothers also are first-rate MMA fighters who train with him in Russia and his younger brother is expected to debut at the next ADFC. “Shamil will fight for ADFC .We have started our own management company and we’ve already signed three exceptional young fighters Ali Ahli , Aymen Ben Ali and Mohammed Walid, now we ‘re going to sign a contract with Shamil officially.” said Randall. About the rematch with last year’s runner up Marcos Oliveira, Shamil said Marcos was in the past even though he’s willing to fight with anybody. Now he looks forward to lock horns with new challengers.
“Shamil will be representing as a coach, judge, and guest on the show. We’ve spoken to a couple of big fighters like Alistair (Overeem) but we want to focus on our fighters. Shamil is our champion. We want to give him more exposure and we believe that he’s got what it takes to compete at any level: UFC, Strikeforce , you name it,” Randall added .
Why it’s Unique
There are dozens of MMA shows like The Ultimate Fighters, but this Arabic MMA reality show focuses on the MENA region. “We have a database of around 500 Arab fighters.
Arab fighters are growing and there is more MMA awareness in this area. All these fighters are all training well. Lots of fighters are coming from their home country to this region to train and to help develop MMA. Shamil is one of them. “It would make sense to make it in Arabic. Expats also will watch this show, as it’ll have subtitles. Fans will watch because they want to see true MMA. What MMA is all about is the real fans and what we’re giving to the fans is the real MMA show.”
All the 16 fighters in the reality show will be trained in all the elements of MMA and sthey’re going to be challenged physically and mentally. “There will be one champion and the champion’s going to get a cash price and an ADFC contract.” On the similarities with other MMA reality shows Randall added: “There are more differences than there are similarities.”
The ADFC team is going on a tour now around different countries in the MENA region meeting up with all the gyms and interviewing all the fighters collecting more for our database. “We want to make sure that the fighter not only fights good, but they’re also going to be good on TV.” “We want the Arab community to relate to people that they can communicate with. We don’t want to bring too much international influence except there’ll be some elements, for example coaches from different countries because these coaches are the best of the best.”
The MMA reality show also allows Arabic people from other countries. As long as they are of Arabic descent and they speak Arabic, they could be on the show. “We’re looking to do another Top Fight tournament in November and we’re waiting to do the launch of our next ADFC championship where Shamil will make his first title defense against an opponent unknown yet. And that’s going to be linked with the reality show.”
The reality show will also promote the champion of ADFC. Shamil would be fighting for the pro fight in ADFC .This is the one area where the reality show and the ADFC are in the same format as UFC and The Ultimate Fighter . “They do the reality show and they have the main event. We’re not changing them all because we want Shamil to be on the reality show and promote him. People get to know who he is and they’ll come support him in ADFC.”
Randall didn’t mince words on the new MMA promotions in the region. “There’s always going to be competitors. There’s always going to be people who try to copy what we do. That’s fine, we understand that we can’t stop it, but they just need to be more original.
If you go to our website and look at our mission and vision statement- which we created two years ago- you go to the all new ones and look at their mission and vision statement it’s almost the same.Everything is the same! I welcome competition but don’t copy. Now we’re gonna start a reality show and this will put us on another level.” Cultural and social Elements of the Show A lot of Arab fighters come from humble beginnings.
The reality show will focus not only on MMA but also the social elements of Arab communities and Arab life. “This is how we want to differentiate ourselves .We want people inside and outside the region to get a real glimpse of Arab culture where all these fighters come from and the actual hardships they face.
“These fighters (Arab fighters) might be giving up a lot more, these fighters might be supporting their mothers, fathers, children, wives brothers and sisters etc. They might have two jobs at their works.
“Not only does this show focus on the popularity of MMA in the entire world, but also gives them an insight to the people around the world that this is the Arab fighters, this is what they go through, this is how determined they are and how passionate they are. I’m not saying they’re more determined than American or European fighters I’m just saying we want to show a different element of what fighters go through. We’re going to make it with a lot of twists a and turns and which are very entertaining for TV.”
Win-Win situation for Everyone
“To be honest, Arab fighters still aren’t as good as international fighters from Europe, US, Russia or Brazil. That is why we want to do this reality show “We want to showcase that these Arab fighters are coming up, they’re gaining momentum and developing in to a very good fighters. They’re going to be good fighters and the Arab world is going to be a place where international organizations come and pick up fighters. “This show is to develop these guys. ADFC has a management who will sponsor these fighters and send them to get trained in Thailand, US, Brazil and so on. We’ll invest in these fighters to develop to be strongest fighters and when they develop they’re going to represent ADFC.”