Ritu Phogat has been reinstated in the ONE Championship atomweight Grand Prix. The Indian believes it is no more than she deserves but she briefly lost her spot after losing to Bi Nguyen,

“When the match was over, I was sure that I would be the winner, I was shocked by the judges’ decision. I was distraught because, for me, I am the best and I deserved to be in the ONE women’s atomweight Grand Prix.”

Phogat got reinstated after an impressive win over Heqin Lin. As well as securing her a spot in the tournament she says it was a major confidence boost,

“Lin had more experience than me. She had a winning streak of 11 matches and her stand-up is great, too. After that win, I have gained a lot of confidence (which) will help in the Grand Prix.”

Ritu Phogat punches Lin Heqin

New challenge

Her opponent in the opening round is Meng Bo. She is from China just like Lin but for Phogat the comparisons end there,

“I am looking at (this) as a new challenge and I am ready for it. I rate all my opponents equally (and) both have more experience than me (but) I don’t want to compare them.”

Soon after the win over Lin at ONE: ‘Battleground’ she found out that a spot in the Grand Prix has been reserved for her. For Phogat it was a good moment,

“I was ecstatic after receiving the news. It has put more responsibility on my shoulders because a lot of people are expecting a good performance from me, so I want to show them that I deserve to be in the Grand Prix and I am one of the best atomweights out there.”

Ritu Phogat punches Lin Heqin 2

Biggest strength

This will be the second time she has trained to face Bo. The ONE: ‘Empower’ card had initially been scheduled for May and Phogat only found out a few days beforehand that the show was postponed.

So she has had plenty of time to familiarize herself with the experienced Chinese atomweight,

“She is a great fighter and I respect her a lot. I don’t want to say anything about her weaknesses, but I have developed a game plan for her which you will get to see inside the circle. All I want to say is that my biggest strength is my wrestling, and it will be her biggest weakness.”

Getting reinstated in the tournament was just the start for Phogat. She wants to win the entire thing and hopes a victory over Bo next Friday will be just the start,

“I want to win all the matches of the Grand Prix and show the world that Indian fighters can be the best. I want to prove that I am one of the best fighters in the atomweight division.”