Anshul Jubli, who scripted history by becoming only the second Indian after Bharat Kandare to earn a UFC contract, with an impressive performance in Las Vegas last weekend admitted that the fame hasn't gone up to his head and he is ready to deal with the added responsibility that came up to his way.
In an exclusive interaction with IANS, revealing how he dealt with the newfound fame, Anshul said: "I have thought or imagined or visualised so many things in this game that I'm going to be a world champion. I'm going to fight with top fighters. I'll put Indian MMA on the map. But fame hasn't come into my head. It's like, I haven't thought about it that I'm gonna be famous. It's a new thing, but it's good. I can realise that people are showing this love to me, and they are saying, okay, you are representing India in the UFC, so you have this responsibility; be careful, don't mess this up.
"I understand that I have this responsibility now. I'm representing my country, MMA Community and I know I have to work hard, I have been consistent. I need to work harder. And I'm happy with it, just bring it on. Give me more responsibility. I'm okay with it and I'll deal with it."
Anshul won the Road to UFC lightweight tournament with a stoppage win over Indonesian Jeka Saragih. The undefeated Indian also earned a USD 50,000 bonus for his performance.
Reacting to the 28-year-old's historic win, coach Siddharth Singh, the founder of Crosstrain Fight Club and a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), shared his feelings about watching Anshul secure the win at the UFC Apex facility.
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"Unreal. It was the happiest day for me as a coach to see him reach such great heights. He becomes the pride of India, not just Uttarakhand. It was one of the happiest days of my life as a coach and I felt absolutely unbelievable," the coach told IANS.
In addition, Siddharth shared how he saw Anshul's evolution as a fighter. "I remember seeing him come to Crosstrain around four and a half. At that time, he had already had a bunch of amateur fights, but what was really fascinating? Was the fact that he was mainly self-trained. He had a few trading partners that he would spar with. So, the first time I saw him, I was like, yeah, he's good, pretty good Jiu Jitsu. He was mounting people, rolling really well, sparring, very hard.
"And then after the session we spoke, then he said that is the first time I've actually come for Jiu Jitsu class. So, it was very surprising that someone who had not officially trained had such good skills. He's gone strength to strength, he became a pro-Fighter, beat some of the biggest names in Indian MMA, and then became the face of Indians everywhere. Now, he's in the UFC and he's actually becoming the face of Asian MMA. So, he's just moving up and it is a great feeling."
Ahead of his Road to UFC final fight, the undefeated Indian lightweight, Anshul, has signed up with Paradigm Sports, a talent management agency that represents some of the biggest MMA fighters including former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
Speaking about his association with one of the biggest management agencies, Anshul said: "First, they approached me and I didn't know much about them, but then I called the coach and I told him that I don't want to sign a contract before this fight. Let's win this road to UFC and then we'll sign the contract. And the coach asked Who are they? I said they are Paradigm and the coach was like, 'oh my God, just sign with them'. It was an excellent decision. Paradigm is a very professional management team and we are very happy to sign with them.
On Anshul's signing with Paradigm Sports, the coach shared a message for young fighters, who are willing to sign up for the management agencies, and said that they must understand first what is the actual role of these agencies.
"A management agency is an extension of your team and they are going to look out for you. They will help you out. They will find sponsors for you. They will make your life easier so that you as an athlete or a fighter can just focus on your training and fighting. That's what a management agency is supposed to do. It's supposed to take care of all your problems. Help you out with sponsorships, take care of your visa issues, travel issues, accommodation, management agency takes care of everything, or in negotiations, who are you going to fight next? That's the job of management agencies.
"Any upcoming fighters who are looking to sign, if a management agency comes to you and says, pay us 30%, 40%, please don't sign those contracts, first understand what the management agency is going to do for you.
"Management agencies should make life easier; it should not be a burden or a shackle. They're your team, they should be like a family. They should be looking out for you.
When asked about his plans for this year and what next line for Uttarakhand-based fighter Anshul, who has a professional record of 7-0 (7 wins, no losses), said: "I want to be very active this year. We (Anshul and coach) were discussing whether I want to fight in April or as soon as possible but he wants me to fight in June. So his plan is to be active and fight at least three more times this year.
"The main goal is to be on top of this game, to be the best, and eventually be the champion; for that, we need to grow our skills. I need to work on my skills, cardio, and my strength and conditioning. So, development is the plan every day. And maybe next year, I will be at that level where I can say that okay, I need to fight for the title. I think after five, or six fights, I'll be ready for the title."
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When Anshul won that UFC contract, it was also a significant moment for Indian promotions like Matrix Fight Night (MFN). Asked if fans can see another Anshul in the coming times, Siddharth said there is only Anshul and there won't be many like him.
"I think there is only Anshul. I think what he's doing is inspiring a lot of young and upcoming fighters. A lot of talented fighters have come in and they have at some point, given up and walked away from the sport but Anshul did not do that. He is super talented. What differentiated him from everyone else is he did not stop, he did not give up and he kept coming back.
"Now that people have seen where he has reached. So, once they see this growth, a lot of young fighters will see potential in the sport, and they will not give up on it. They will stick to it, will keep training and I'm sure and I'm pretty confident that there will be many, many more fighters from India in the UFC. But there won't be many like Anshul that I'm sure of," the coach said.