Everybody knows that Ritu Phogat can wrestle. It was the subject of a blockbuster movie in India and she has an impressive collection of medals from her career spent competing on the mat.

But Phogat, who is fully focused on MMA these days, wants to show that she can strike. The Indian has fought very regularly since making her debut in 209 but is coming off a long absence.

She was last seen in November getting submitted by Stamp Fairtex in the final of the atomweight Grand Prix. Phogat has been out of action for the best part of a year but says she has used the time wisely,

“I have tried to improve my striking in the last three to four months, and I will try my best to showcase my boxing and striking against her.”

Make or break

Phogat faces Tiffany Teo at ONE 161 later this month and sees it as a make or break fight because she is coming off the loss to Stamp,

“Every fight is important for me, but this is even more crucial because I suffered a loss in my last match, and then I got injured too. My opponent is an experienced athlete. I am looking forward to this fight and want to make a good comeback.”

Her absence from the cage has been enforced. She was struggling with a shoulder injury and with the Grand Prix finally over Phogat decided the time had come to take a break,

“I had suffered this injury on my right shoulder during my amateur wrestling days. Last year, I had to fight with very little gap. The doctor asked me to take a rest, but it was not an option for me then. But after my last fight, I took some time off to rest and make a comeback.”

Constant cycle

Phogat also felt that the constant cycle of fights was affecting her ability to evolve and improve. In the time that she has been away from the cage the Indian believes she has been able to upgrade some of her skills,

“I had taken some time off just so that I could get back to winning ways. I am up for this challenge, I have worked hard on my skills, and on September 29, I will show the world what I have improved.”

Phogat has clearly been training hard ahead of this contest which she believes will be an important one,

“It’s a very important fight. She is experienced and people look up to her. But I will show on September 29 what ‘The Indian Tigress’ can do.”

Teo has challenged for the strawweight title twice and gave reigning champion Xiong Jing Nan one of her toughest tests in the rematch. She is four inches taller than Phogat but the Indian is determined to win the fight with a knockout,

“I want to knock her out and show the world that they have seen my wrestling and ground game, but I can finish by striking too.”