A gym trainer to India's biggest MMA prospect: Angad Bisht takes the road less traveled
Angad Bisht will be defending his Matrix Fight Night (MFN) flyweight belt against Brazil's Hugo Paiva in Noida on Saturday.
“My legs were trembling, there was adrenaline rush but I was a bit hesitant,” described Angad Bisht as he recalled getting ready for his first MMA fight, which was in New Delhi almost a decade ago. Then Angad was relatively new to the capital, having moved from his native Rudraprayag, Uttrakhand a year after giving his 12th board exams.
Angad like many others thought of pursuing medical and despite doing decent in the competitive exams he thought of it giving it another shot. However, this time the interest faded, and he spent more time in the gym. “I was always interested in working out and when I was around 18-19 I took a risk and moved to Delhi, where I worked as a gym trainer,” Angad, who will be defending his Matrix Fight Night (MFN) flyweight belt against Brazil's Hugo Paiva in Noida on Saturday, told hindustantimes.com over the phone.
Angad admitted that becoming a MMA fighter was never a part of his plan but there was a desire to learn this art form. It was during his initial 1.5-2 months of training, Angad was asked by his trainers if he would be interested in fighting.
"Becoming a MMA fighter was still not part of my plan, I just wanted to feel the experience, how it exactly felt. When I won my first amateur fight I realised this has the vibes and it's the perfect job for me.
“When you win and the official raises your hand the happiness was real,” he said.
Fast forward few years, the 27-year-old is now India's best MMA prospect, and is ready for his first title defence against Paiva, who holds a 6-2-0 (Win-Loss-Draw) record. “I know people from Brazil are very tough as Jujutsu is one of the integral part of their culture. Also while Jujutsu is popular in Brazil, my opponents is an aggressive striker, he also has good knowledge about anti-wrestling fundamentals. My strength is grappling and he knows how to get out of it and get back on his feet.
“So I've planned a lot but sometimes none of your plans work inside the cage," said Angad when asked to share his views on his opponent.
If we look at the MMA circuit worldwide, Brazil is stacked with some of the most renowned fighters, and a fighter can feel intimidated by knowing that his opponent comes from the same country. Angad too felt the same but the fear has now subsided, and credits his preparation as the reason for it.
“It is normal to feel a bit scared initially, questions as what and how come to your mind. But when the training starts and you grind for eight hours a day, you start reading your opponent's game plan. You develop the skills to beat his capabilities and the fear starts diminishing.”
Angad, who believes in “you against yourself” mindset, trained three months in Bang Tao, Thailand for his upcoming fight. The training center had fighters from across the world. "When I was in Bang Tao, there were a number of Brazilian, Irish, and American fighters and you get to learn a lot from them.
“When you get new opponents while training and you spar with them, then the element of fear fizzles out. Every time you are getting hit by a different opponent and you are trying to overcome it,” he further said about his preparations.
Angad's MMA academy in Dehradun
Angad also runs a MMA academy (Mutant MMA Academy) in Dehradun, which currently caters around 70-80 MMA fighters. Out of them 10-12 fighters are professional, while others are amateur.
"I have the opinion that we pahadi get a genetic advantage and our mindset is already tough due to the rough lifestyle.
"Secondly people from the hills are very humble and if we get opportunity we start working on it. For example the last time when I got the chance to represent India, I dedicated myself completely on the fight as I can't miss out on such a huge opportunity.
“Because we don't have much scope and MMA is giving us one, I try to give 110% and this is the exact thing with Anshul (Jubli). Anshul is from Uttarkashi, I'm from Rudraprayag which is not very far. We are in touch regularly. As we come from small places and we start getting big platforms so we also double our efforts,” said Angad.