Ritu Phogat was withdrawn from the atomweight Grand Prix and then reinstated. With two rounds to go and half of the remaining fighters having pulled out she might just be the favourite.

The ‘Indian Tigress’ definitely sees things that way ahead of Friday’s fight with Jenelyn Olsim,

“Definitely do not underestimate me. I have the power, I have the strength to prove you wrong.”

She was scheduled to fight one of the favourites. But Itsuki Hirata pulled out after falling sick just a few days before the fight.

Well prepared

Hirata was arguably the best fighter remaining in the tournament but Phogat definitely wasn’t celebrating when she heard the news,

“I was really hoping to fight Hirata. I was prepared for her,” she said.

While Hirata comes from a judo background Olsim fights out of the famed Team Lakay. She represents a very different type of challenge but Phogat is unfazed by the last minute change,

“Although the matchup with Jenelyn has come at the 11th hour I’m confident in my skills, my training and I know I can take on anyone.”

No disruption

She is adamant that this has not disrupted her preparation. Phogat was removed from the tournament after dropping a split decision to Bi Nguyen before the quarter finals.

She was subsequently reinstated after scoring an impressive decision win over Lin Heqin. Phogat would not have been one of the favourites with Seo Hee Ham, Denice Zamboanga and Hirata all more fancied.

All three have either withdrawn or been eliminated and Phogat’s prospects of winning the entire tournament now look extremely bright. A lot has changed in the last year and the 27 year old says a few last minute changes during fight week won’t have any impact at all,

“It’s not something that shakes me up. I’m untouched by pressure. I don’t allow myself to get intimidated by pressure. I know I’m prepared and I follow the course of my game plan.”