Ritu Phogat has a role model in MMA and his name is Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Indian fighter says that the undefeated former lightweight champion is her favourite
Last year Conor McGregor announced that he was a fan of Phogat’s. But the Indian told the Hindustan Times that his nemesis Nurmagomedov is the fighter she really wants to follow,
“I have always followed Khabib’s footsteps. He also has a wrestling background, I think our style is also similar, so he’s always been my favourite and will remain,” she said.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) October 24, 2020
Phogat was 17 when Nurmagomedov made his UFC debut. She has been following his career for a long time and wants to be as successful as the Russian superstar,
“I’ve been watching his videos ever since I was a child. I really like the style of his fighting and the way he faces his opponents. I really want to make a name for myself the way that he’s made it in the world,” she said.
She was asked about Conor McGregor. The Irish star took to Twitter to show his support for Phogat after her submission loss to Stamp Fairtex in the final of the atomweight Grand Prix last December:
Hard luck today Ritu Phogat! A setback for a greater comeback! Let’s go Ritu! Let’s go India! We march on! 🇮🇳 ❤️ ☘️ https://t.co/QP1qINsrUD
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 3, 2021
While Phogat wanted to make it clear that she is on Team Khabib the 28 year old was still proud that McGregor watched her fight and was routing for her against Stamp,
“One of the top fighters in MMA is cheering for you, there cannot be anything bigger than this. It motivated me.”
While McGregor is keeping an eye on Phogat’s progress she told the Hindustan Times that she was also watching some of India’s up and coming stars. The ONE Championship star has caught a few Matrix Fight Night cards and thinks the promotion is doing good things for local fighters,
“I’ve seen it and I know that the level is still not very high but I’m happy because promotions like this will lift the MMA circuit in our nation and this is one of the reasons I work very hard here.”
But Phogat believes she is much better off fighting against international opponents on ONE Championship cards,
“ONE Championship is a bigger stage and it gives me a platform to show that even India has great fighters.”