On her MMA debut Ritu Phogat needed less than four minutes to score a TKO win. Her second fight played out a bit differently, she went the distance with Chiao Chen Wu at ONE: ‘King of the Jungle’ earning the decision.
It means the wrestling star got to spend 15 minutes inside the cage but one person wasn’t completely satisfied with her performance,
“When I went to the corner after the first round my dad said âfinish the match, why are you taking so much time?,â” Phogat recalls.
Her father helped launch the wrestling career of Phogat and her sisters and the 25 year old was glad to give him a glimpse into the new sport she is competing in,
“It felt really great. I was feeling really proud to have him there with me,” she said.
Having won two fights out of two for ONE Championship it could be time for the Indian to take a step up. But she says she learned a lot from the three round fight with Wu,
“She gave me a tough match. This will help me in my future matches (and) whatever my coach says and whatever matches I get, I am ready,â she said.
While her father might not come from an MMA background his feedback echoed that of Phogat’s Evolve MMA coaches. They told the atomweight she could have finished the contest with a submission or strikes,
“You learn something from every match and I have learned a lot from this match. My coach told me that I could have finished the match but overall (my) performance was really good.”
Like every fighter on the roster Phogat is currently on hiatus due to the coronavirus, or Covid-19, crisis. However she is staying sharp and ready for her return,
“I have kept a schedule for myself and I am following it strictly. The schedule includes functional training like yoga, cardio and strength. My coach gave me a few drills to do at home to sharpen my focus and movements and eventually it will help in improving my skills. Also, I am shadow boxing and practicing my kicks a few times a week to improve my movements.”
Another undefeated contender at atomweight is Stamp Fairtex. They come from very different backgrounds, the Thai is a multiple time Muay Thai champion while the Indian is renowned for her wrestling.
But it is a matchup that will inevitably happen if they both keep winning and Phogat is intrigued by the prospect of testing her skills against the decorated ONE Super Series champion,
“Stamp is a very talented athlete. I really like her zeal for martial arts. She is already a world champion in two sports and there is so much to learn from her. If I happen to have a match with her, it would be really exciting for everyone,” she said.
Their skill sets are polar opposites and Phogat acknowledges she would need to make some improvements before facing Stamp,
“She has more experience (in ONE Championship) than me right now but we both have our strengths (and) I think both of us will have to adapt to different styles. When I face her I have to definitely step up my game in striking.”
The atomweight belt belongs to Angela Lee. Phogat probably isn’t ready to face the reigning champion and BJJ black belt just yet.
But eventually she wants to challenge for the title and is willing to go up against any of the top contenders, including Stamp, in order to do that,
“My dream is to become world champion one day and to do that, I have to go up against every top (atomweight) here and win. So whenever ONE decides to get me a match with Stamp, I promise you I will be ready to face her.”