MMA World Title Winner Chaitanya Gavali

MMA Fighter Chaitanya Gavali on good habits and tough matches

Early mornings

Like a lot of us, his morning begins with a cuppa of hot black coffee. Unlike most of us, at 6.15 am, Chaitanya Gavali hits the gym to begin his morning fighter training. What’s more interesting is that this workout is on invitation only! As a pro-MMA fighter, winner of two international titles, and a trainer, Chaitanya starts his day with some kickass sessions that include wrestling/striking/ MMA and end with life (mimicking a fight). To stay at the top of his game as an MMA fighter is something Chaitanya does quite happily!

No fear

Most fighters fear losing, fear getting hit, but not Chaitanya. “It’s about how you perform on that day in that match. I enjoy the process, whatever the outcome. Whether I am fighting a newbie or a seasoned fighter, I know I can give a hell of a fight. That keeps me going,” says the fighter whose mind is as well-toned as his body.

Good food

His diet includes yogurt, oats, honey, banana, almonds, cashew, eggs, chapatti, veggies, and of course chicken and protein shakes. “To change the taste, I have bread omelet and scrambled eggs on occasion. Dinner has to be by 7 pm. I change my meal timings and what I eat depending on training routines. My diet has to match the intensity of training,” he explains. One look at his physique will tell you how much effort has gone into maintaining his muscle strength.

Train train train…

Chaitanya works on his training twice a day. Then, he is actively teaching MMA and has his own MMA fight team from 2019! It is a responsibility, to say the least, but the joy and the respect are worth it. “Students come to me and tell me they enjoy training, the most fearful have become fearless, some give up smoking, adopt a healthy lifestyle – these are great rewards. I love having students with zero knowledge as they learn easier than those who have to unlearn first,” he smiles.

Starting with MMA training in 2009 when it was brand new in the country, Chaitanya was fighting professionally and winning by 2012. “In 2015, I won my first international title. I don’t know what I was doing before MMA,” shares Chaitanya who weighed over 100 kgs, and got bullied before MMA. He completed his M.COM, and did graveyard shifts in call centers but found his calling was ONLY in competitive MMA.

“The first few fights were quite one-sided. Then the competition got tough. My parents saw me through the time I got hit on the jaw and was on liquids for 10 days and naturally they were worried but when I went pro and started getting paid, they came around,” says Chaitanya.

He lists the first World Title he won in Malaysia on August 15, 2015, as a big achievement. He is also the only Indian to have won the world title in two different categories – featherweight and bantam.

His vibe

Describing himself as a happy person, Chaitanya always walks around the gym greeting everybody when he comes and says bye before he leaves. “I like passing on the happy vibe, it’s just me,” he explains.

The beginning

Chaitanya adds, “I am 33 now, I started training at 22 and I’m still fighting. My 21-year-old students get tired in training and I don’t! It’s all about how fit you keep yourself. Internationally, you can compete quite well into your late 30’s. Competitive fighting at 40 + is tougher on the body because your body has taken so many injuries.” His advice: stay calm, work on yourself and fight!

For those in their 40s who want to take up MMA, Chaitanya advises, “Select a good coach to create a structure which lists what you can and can’t do. A good gym, a good coach, understanding the game – it’s about action-reaction, body dynamics – takes you ahead.”

How does MMA help? “Your brain works a little faster I would say, it's like human chess - I create a dilemma, counter, the brain ticks better,” he observes. He lists Mallakhamb training which helped in his core and muscle strength, kabaddi, kusti, and taekwondo as great training options for MMA fighters.

Which one are you picking to start with?


Uma Karve Chakranarayan