Fists clenched, eyes locked on target

Shaveen Jeewandara catches up with Colombo Fight Night’s top fighters amidst preparations to fight it out in India at the Super Fight League

If there ever was something that ticks the same in all cultures worldwide, it would invariably have to be ‘fighting’ – which is why we end up with a warrior culture in every single civilization. “Men love to fight, there’s no backing down,” says Dr. Haren Jayasinghe, who introduces us to his team of fighters, grappling it out in the training rings ready for yet another bout of the ‘Colombo Fight Night as well as their first ever overseas venture: The Super Fight League (SFL) which is to be held at the Andheri Sports Club, Mumbai on March 11.

Madura(L) and Gayath (R)
Dave London (R) Madura (L)
Dave London (L) Gayath (R) pix by Susantha Liyanawathe

The Super Fight League is India’s first professionally organized Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting league, promoted by the famous Raj Kundra and Sanjay Dutt. The league will pit six of India’s best fighters in all weights against international fighters – and that’s where our fighters come into the play. The SFL is the first step in a series of MMA tournaments that will take place all around the sub-continent and holds a great commercial and competitive value. Dr. Haren has already done the needful – the elite group is ready.

Away from the hustle of the city, lying hidden in the suburbs is the training ring – the place where the game unfolds. A strong sense of awareness lurks around as we step in to the world of Mixed Martial Arts, ready to speak with some of the top ranked fighters.

Madura ‘The Destroyer’ Rathnayake started off with Wushu, and has been the unbeaten National Champ. Madura spits out his mouthpiece as he closes in to speak with us. Mini-Hulk would not be an exaggeration for this champion fighter, as he imposes himself on the opponents. Madura has been in many fight nights and has an all knock-out strike rate. Which means that he has defeated all the opponents on a knockout basis – which in itself is quite a statement. “You can’t win a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight with one trump in hand,” Madura tells us. This fighter places immense respect in his opponents placing himself a few mental points below the opponent in each match. “I start from a minus point, so I have nowhere to fall, but everything to climb.” Madura tells us that the biggest prerequisite for any fighter is the faith and respect they place in their coach as well as their opponent.

Gayath ‘The Gladiator’ Weerasuriya hails from S.Thomas College Bandarawela and is hell-bent on giving the challenge to his opponent. He reminisces of popular on screen fighter Van Damme, not solely for his film-friendly profile, but also for his sheer strength. “I used to think MMA was all about muscle, but it’s a very technical game,” he mentions. “Players should know which areas to avoid and how to make contact.” The random nature of the game is what keeps people at it, Gayath tell us. This fighter has perfected the art of Jujitsu and Wrestling and claims that if you make the wrong move of falling on the ground, you are unlikely to escape his grapple – “I love ground fighting, that’s where I strike.”

Dulshan ‘Powerpunch’ Perera keeps up to his name and packs quite a punch. Having come under Dr. Haren’s training programme last year, Dulshan has quickly risen to the elite band of fighters. “What keeps you at the top is your constant awareness,” says Dulshan. “You never know what’s going to happen, so I hope for the worst and expect the worst too,” he smirks. Dulshan tells us that the fighters need to keep up to their conditioning, as MMA is a contact sport. “A dip in physical training can cost you more than a match.” Dulshan trusts in his full-time commitment to take him to the ultimate crown.

The last of the lot, is certainly not the one to mess with. Starting off his fighting career in Wushu at Carey College, Tiran ‘Tornado’ Thakshala has been the National Champ for 3 consecutive years. “Last year I faced a match against a fighter from the Army, I managed to beat him easily and this gave me confidence,” says Tiran. Tiran is not a man of many words, but his limbs do the talking for him, having won a match on a knockout basis as well as one on a choke submission. “Fighting is my life,” Tiran makes it quite clear. He tells us that the Super Fight League is a dream come true, and he places faith on his training and dedication to bring out his A-Game at the tournament.

“The Super Fight League will be our first international venture, we’ll be breaking from the norm of fight nights and have an opportunity at tasting a world-class fight”, Dr. Haren mentions with a burning passion in his words. “The guys from across the palk-straits have invited us, possibly assuming that we’ll be easy game – well we’re ready to take them by surprise”.

“The game is Mixed Martial Arts, and its origins trace back to Japan and Brazil,” says Dr. Haren, who’s also the President of the MMA Federation of Sri Lanka. Dr.Haren is a fighter himself, having a background in Muay Thai, freestyle wrestling and Brazilian Jujitsu.

MMA has had a rapid growth worldwide and many Asian countries are stepping into the ring, while Dr. Haren says that they’ve been invited to the Super Fight League with intentions of being bait, the fighters will give it all they’ve got – after all there’s a handsome $5 million of prize money at stake. Fists clinched, eyes locked on target – the awesome foursome are ready to take the Super Fight League by storm.
For player ratings and matches visit:

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