• Phogat has to shift her focus to her next opponent in China’s Lin Heqin. Phogat will face her on 30th July at the ONE: Battleground event.

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By YASH BHATI

UPDATED ON JUL 25, 2021 12:30 PM IST

Ritu Phogat is one of the biggest hopes from India in the Mixed Martial Arts arena. The wrestler from Haryana had taken ONE Championship by storm with her dominant displays inside the ring. She was marching towards the atomweight title before being controversial defeated by Bi Nguyen in her last fight. Phogat lost a close split decision to the Vietnamese fighter at ONE: Dangal.

She doesn’t agree with the judge’s decision as Ritu feels she won the fight and is looking for a rematch with her. However, she has to shift her focus to her next opponent in China’s Lin Heqin. Phogat will face her on 30th July at the ONE: Battleground event.

Ritu talked to Hindustan Times about her next fight with Heqin while also revealing her favourite male and female fighters. Phogat also said that she is happy with her MMA journey so

Excerpts:-

Do you think wrestlers have an advantage in MMA over strikers?

Yes, there is some advantage for wrestlers as it is easy to land a takedown and control your opponent on the ground. Wrestlers have a little advantage in MMA due to this.

Why do you think it is difficult for strikers to get hold of wrestling while grapplers are able to learn striking?

It is not easy for strikers or boxers to understand the intricacies of wrestling. A striker to understand wrestling is a little difficult as they are not trained in wrestling from the start. We have trained for long in this aspect that we why we know a lot about wrestling.

What are your thoughts about the Bi Nguyen fight? Where do you think you slipped up that the judges scored the fight in your opponent’s favour?

I personally don’t think the fight was close. As far as I know, the fighter who dominates the fight wins it. I respect the judge’s decision but I think I won the match. I would like to have a rematch with Bi Nguyen and I won’t let that fight to be close. However, I am focussing on my next fight with Lin Heqin for now.

How has your MMA journey been so far?

It was always my dream to compete in MMA. I wanted to become one of India’s best MMA athletes and a world champion. So that was my goal and I am training hard to achieve it. It has been a good journey so far.

How does it feel to be associated with Under Armour?

I am very happy that I am associated with Under Armour. The training gear is really comfortable. It also feels nice to be associated with that brand that is associated with so many big athletes like Michael Phelps. There is a champion-like feeling.

Do you think India will get medals at the Olympics in wrestling?

I have full hope from the wrestlers representing India at the Olympics. I feel there will be medals for India from wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics.

Who are your favourite male and female fighters?

My favourite male fighter is Khabib Nurmagomedov. I really like his fighting style and it inspires me. I watch his videos before fights also. We have a similar background and our fighting style is similar. In women, I really like Xiong ‘Panda’ Jingnan. She is my friend. I love her fighting style.