Tiger Shroff on being the force behind MMA Matrix Fight Night in Dubai

Bollywood action star and his sister Krishna Shroff are organising the martial arts event

Bollywood actor Tiger Shroff at the Matrix Fight Night event in Dubai in 2020. Photo: Matrix Fight Night
Powered by automated translation

Bollywood action star Tiger Shroff says he’s bringing back his Mixed Martial Arts event, Matrix Fight Night, to Dubai for the third time because the city has “the right audience”.

To be held on September 24 at the Palazzo Versace Dubai, the ticketed evening will feature some of India’s top fighters battle it out in the cage, with Bollywood stars expected to attend as guests.

“Dubai has always been the city which has given a lot of love to MFN and a very vibrant, diverse and welcoming place for our event. We had a fantastic event here in December 2020 and we only want to top that now,” Shroff tells The National. “The ‘sportstainment’ industry has also grown a lot in the Middle East and it’s great to showcase Asia’s greatest sports talents in a city like Dubai.”

An offshoot of the MMA Matrix Fitness Centre in Mumbai, which Shroff co-owns with sister Krishna Shroff, five fight nights have been held since 2019, with the last two being hosted in Dubai.

The coming event, MFN6, will introduce a few new elements, including a women’s bout, Krishna reveals.

“We’ve been doing everything we can provide a fair and complete platform [for women] to showcase their talent,” she says. “This is also our first show where we introduce a non-Indian fighter, so that is a new element to make the event more international.”

The children of Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff and former model Ayesha Shroff, the siblings have been credited with taking Mixed Martial Arts mainstream in India, with a little help from their celebrity friends.

Tiger, who made his Bollywood debut in 2014 with the film Heropanti, is a trained martial artist, having started when he was just five. He’s trained in karate, wushu and taekwondo, and has often credited Mixed Martial Arts for keeping him in top form.

“MMA has been greatly instrumental in keeping both of us fit and disciplined and once you start seeing the results, you like what you see so it becomes a lifestyle. And it greatly helps to keep our focus in our respective fields,” he says.

Krishna, who is also a film producer, says it was her brother who inspired her.

“Watching Tiger grow up, talking about MMA, it got me naturally affiliated with the sport without realising it. Together, we hope that our MFN dream will motivate many out there to strengthen both their bodies and minds, be it a man or a woman. Our plans may seem small but we think for the long road, and sooner or later we will achieve what we have set out to do with MFN since its inception,” she says.

While they’ve “scaled quite a few peaks” with MFN despite battling misconceptions about the sport, Tiger says the plan is to go “slow and steady”.

“MMA has always been misunderstood as a violent sport but that’s not the case. Yes, there’s direct combat involved but these fighters are trained for it and injuries can and always happen in any sport you play or compete in.

“We are here to provide and present MMA as a career to our Indian athletes and now maybe to a lot of international fighters as well. We want to achieve respect for MMA as a career.”

Monther Darwish, managing director of Palazzo Versace Dubai, says MFN6 will be bigger and better.

“Unlike last year, when the event was open to a certain guest list only, MFN6 will be open to the public. It is one of the most important sports events in Dubai this year and another reason to believe we are heading back to pre-Covid Dubai, with lots of events and happenings across the city as we enter a new season,” he says.

“Having Tiger and Krisha Shroff back in Dubai is an exciting element as well, as people love them both for bringing the Mixed Martial Arts to the city, a sport so appreciated in the region.”

Tickets to MFN6 on Friday, September 24 start at Dh250 and can be bought by emailing mfn@palazzoversace.ae or calling 04-5568805.

Updated: September 13, 2021, 1:39 PM