MUMBAI: Continuing its buying spree, sports broadcaster ESPN Star Sports said it has acquired the broadcast rights of Indian Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) property Super Fight League (SFL) for a period of five years.
Neo Prime was the incumbent broadcast rights holder of the SFL.
ESS will cover 23 SFL Fight Nights live on a fortnightly basis from the 2013-14 season which kicks off in Mumbai on 29 March and will continue all year round till March end 2014.
Launched in 2012, SFL is a brainchild of Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra and Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt. This year a total of around 250 fighters, male and female, from India and abroad will fight it out for the coveted Championship Title Belt and the right to be crowned SFL World Champion.
This season will see participants from top notch MMA playing countries like Japan, Brazil and USA. A lot of NRI MMA fighters from countries like Australia, UK, Canada, Germany and USA will also be in seen in action.
Speaking on the occasion, ESPN Software India COO Vijay Rajput said, “We believe in offering the best of sporting content to the Indian sports fans across genres and this acquisition firmly reiterates our constant endeavor in this direction. This acquisition enables us to expand our content in MMA fighting and we think this property will get a lot of traction with fight fans across the country. We will soon start a high decibel marketing campaign across our entire network leveraging top fighters of the league and Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt to build up to the season launch.”
SFL Founder Chairman Raj Kundra said, “The broadcast tie-up with ESPN Star Sports will provide a major boost to our efforts to promote this property across South Asia. We are very enthused with the response that SFL has been able to generate in its very first year of operation. The league is today ranked amongst the top 5 MMA leagues in the world. As a result, we have seen a lot of interest from leading MMA fighters to compete in SFL season 2. Good quality fighters from India and abroad will help the league reach new highs. We are also expanding in a big way. The new season will see 11 title belts on offer, up from 5 title belts in the first edition. Male participants will fight it out across 8 weight categories from bantamweight to heavyweight while the ladies’ section will see action in 3 weight categories from flyweight to featherweight."
In the Bantamweight category for males, current title holder Anup Kumar has been given the top ranking. In the Featherweight category, Bharat Khandare (current title holder) tops the ranking. In Lightweight, Rajinder Singh (current title holder) is ranked No.1. In Welterweight, Shyam Prasad (current title holder) is at the top.
In the new categories introduced this year, John Troyer has been ranked highest in the Middleweight category. Goran Reljic is ranked second in the Light heavyweight category. Daniel Amar Singh has been ranked highest in the Heavyweight category. In the female section, Sanja Sucevic has been ranked highest in the Flyweight category. In Bantamweight, Hanna Sillen has been given the highest billing. In Featherweight, Puja Kadian is the favourite for the title.
ESS, which is now part of Star network in India, has been on a buying spree ever since it became a wholly owned subsidiary of News Corp. The broadcaster acquired BCCI rights and followed that up by retaining England Cricket Board (ECB) rights. The broadcaster then went on to acquire rights for English Premier League (EPL), Hockey India League (HIL), Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL), Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), and FA Cup.