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MMA star Anshul Jubli gets candid

'What motivated me was the thought that I would be the first MMA world champion from India. My future version was my inspiration'

Saionee Chakraborty | Published 17.04.23, 12:34 PM
Anshul Jubli 

Anshul Jubli 

Sourced by the correspondent

MMA star Anshul Jubli is a delight to chat with. The Uttarkashi boy who trains in Thailand and Indonesia but is based in Delhi will make you laugh and inspire you with his resilience. All at the same time. Anshul recently won the Road To UFC final 'to earn a direct contract with UFC' and became 'the second Indian to get an entry into UFC'. In a chat with The Telegraph, Anshul recounted his journey so far and shared his message for all the youngsters.

Congratulations! So, dreams do come true, right?

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Yes, dreams do come true. I would say half of it has come true and half of it is still left to be fulfilled. Bahut aage jana hai.

What made you fall in love with MMA?

Once I passed class XII and went to college, I wanted to play a sport. I was also preparing for my CDS (Combined Defence Service) exam and I thought it would be good for my preparation and interviews. I joined in 2015 and hardly anyone knew about MMA. My friend's elder brother used to train in an MMA academy and I picked up bits and pieces from there. I logged on to YouTube to know more. Anderson Silva's highlights would play a lot on YouTube. It would be equivalent to how popular Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov are now. When I saw the MMA fights for the first time, I had made up my mind that this is what I wanted to do. There is nothing like it.

I was 20 when I first started with MMA, but back then I was only doing it for some certificates as I was preparing for CDS. But then mujhe kaafi lagav ho gaya and I became passionate about it. In 2018, I decided to make my passion profession.

In five years you have a UFC contract, which is remarkable…

Yeah you can say. Getting to fight in UFC so fast (pauses) is easier in heavyweight divisions, but not so much in the lightweight division. I have planned my journey well. A couple of years back I had made up my mind that I would go to UFC in 2023. I had also messaged Dana White (president, UFC) the year before last that I am coming to UFC in 2023 and that I will be a champion in 2026.

I believe there has to be a system if you want to achieve a goal. I trained well and improved my striking, wrestling and grappling. I applied all the new techniques I learned in sparring. I studied the schedule of the champions, kaise so te hai, jaagte hai and what they eat. My coaches have supported me a lot and so have my whole team, my friends and the team at Sony.

What did you tell your parents about the sport?

They didn’t know what MMA was. I made them watch my fights, and my amateur wins, but my mom wasn’t a fan at all. Kisiki mom ko kyun pasand hoga ke unka beta T-shirt nikalke cage ke andar lar raha hai?! I, however, tried to convince her a lot and borrowed a year’s time. If I could make it in a year, great, else I would head back to Dehradun (where his parents stay) from Delhi. Just as the year was about to come to an end, I got offered a fight, which was my first professional fight. And my journey since then is there in front of you.

Who were the champions you really looked up to?

I have been asked this question many times, but sach mein MMA mein aisa koi idol tha hi nahin. There wasn’t really anyone I followed a lot or wanted to be like. What motivated me was the thought that I would be the first MMA world champion from India. My future version was my inspiration.

I liked Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Khabib and (Conor) McGregor. They have been huge ambassadors of the sport worldwide. Currently, I like the likes of Alexander Volkanovski and Islam Makhachev.

Your father was in the BSF. Had you not been in MMA, you would have joined the Army, right? So, you were born to be a fighter?

Exactly. I am a born fighter.

What kept you going and convinced that your dreams will come true?

In the beginning, when I had gone to Delhi in 2018, I was trying for an amateur fight. As I kept overcoming the small hurdles, my mindset became stronger. I used to think I am mentally very strong, but MMA ne bataya, kuch bhi nahin hai. I was in the Philippines for a fight in 2019 and had spent a lot of money and even borrowed money for it. During warm-up, I got to know the fight had got cancelled. I could have given up, but I didn’t.

Today, if something is not going right, I can easily deal with it. If you tell me to reach Calcutta in the next hour, I would! (Laughs)

What do you do to hone your MMA skills?

Recovery is a part of MMA. If you just train your body but don’t focus on recovery, you can probably push your brain to believe you can reach Calcutta in an hour, but if it’s not physically possible, then so be it. So, I focus a lot on recovery and focus on yoga and breathing exercises and go to saunas and ice baths.

Do you play anything else?

I used to play a lot of football, volleyball and kho kho. I was a chubby kid when I was in the fourth or fifth standard and was bullied a little and I thought I must do something and teach them a lesson! I started playing football. From a goalkeeper, I came into defence, then centre forward and forward.

What are you allowed to eat?

The schedules are different when you are in the camp. I have just had pizza and fried chicken (smiles). Of course, even when I am not in the camp, I don’t have too much oily food or eat out a lot, but it’s not that strict. I usually don’t even touch vegetables because I know I have to have so many vegetables in the coming three months! When I am close to a fight, the diet gets strict. The options are limited like grilled chicken and fish and then you wait for the fight to end and to eat everything! (Laughs)

Khana banana mujhe nahin aa paya hai. All my money goes into the food.

What is your training like?

The hours don’t go up off camp. I still train for three hours in the morning and three in the evening. The intensity in a camp changes though. You are toughening your body so much, that when you are recovering a week a before the match, you are at your peak. If you ever come and see me training, aapko rona aa jayega.

What is your message for youngsters?

I would like to tell them that the future of MMA is very bright. If you want to take it up professionally, don’t give up and work hard. I keep saying what’s the point of a life, which has no hardships? There will be difficulties, but keep working hard. It can never happen that you’ve worked hard and you won’t be rewarded.

Sony Sports Network is the official broadcaster of UFC in India

Last updated on 17.04.23, 12:34 PM
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