Chinese knockout artist Meng Bo may have recently suffered the most devastating loss of her professional mixed martial arts career, but she is re-focused, re-energized, and has a massive opportunity to quickly turn her misfortunes around.
Meng had a thunderous start to her ONE Championship career, earning a pair of first-round knockouts and a dominant unanimous decision victory. That also led her to the #2-ranked women’s atomweight contender spot.
But her stellar run came to a screeching halt when she met Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinals.
The Chinese star rocked Phogat with her crisp punches in the opening stanza and came achingly close to finishing her right there. But the Indian survived – and then, she flourished. Phogat used her world-class wrestling to shut Meng down and cruise to a unanimous decision victory, eliminating her from the tournament.
That loss hit Meng hard, so much so that she even shaved her head. But she used that experience to analyze her weaknesses, improve upon them, and come back even stronger.
And now that she is moving up a weight class and has a chance to beat a top-ranked contender, the 25-year-old could gain some redemption and potentially line herself up for a ONE World Title opportunity.
Meng talks about that, and more, in this exclusive interview.
ONE Championship: The last time we saw you compete, you were upset by Ritu Phogat in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinals in August. What happened?
Meng Bo: I’m a stand-up athlete, and my skills on the ground and cage fence are not detailed enough, so I lost to her.
ONE: It seemed like you were on the verge of knocking her out in the first round, but Ritu survived. Why don’t you think you were able to score the KO?
MB: There was too much uncertainty in the match, and I didn’t really remember what happened. But at that time, I felt that my opponent was very resilient and had good flexibility in the cage, so I wasn’t able to knock her out.
ONE: Ritu resorted to her wrestling to ultimately win the fight and eliminate you from the Grand Prix. What was going through your head after the match?
MB: It definitely bothered me, and I felt regretful because I went into the match with the mindset of winning the Grand Prix. But it’s normal to win or lose, and the process is more important. For example, after that match, I realized I need to strengthen my ground and cage fence training.
ONE: What do you feel was your biggest mistake in that match with Ritu?
MG: The biggest mistake was that I didn’t KO her in the first round, giving her the opportunity to take me to the ground. If I could go back in time, I would definitely KO her in the first round.
ONE: What new things have been going on since that match in August?
MB: I changed my hairstyle – I shaved my head – and then decided to strengthen my ground and cage fence training. And I watched more of other people’s fights to shape a stronger heart. I also recorded more videos during my training to get to know myself better.
ONE: Any particular reason why you shaved your head?
MB: A girl must have the experience of shaving her head in her life. I am not doing it for others, but to motivate and remind myself.
ONE: You’re moving up a weight class and facing top-ranked contender Tiffany Teo in your strawweight debut. Does this type of challenge motivate you?
MB: Yes. A new challenge, a new start. It is good to challenge the highest-level opponents at the beginning.
ONE: What do you think are Tiffany’s strengths and weaknesses?
MB: Tiffany’s stand-up and power are her advantages. I’m not particularly clear what her disadvantages are. I only know that I have to strengthen my cage fence and ground skills.
ONE: Tiffany is known for being a strong, dynamic striker. But you are, too. Who is the better striker: Tiffany or you?
MB: I watched all her matches, and she was actually technically rough, and I was more fluid.
ONE: Tiffany previously said she wasn’t impressed with your grappling and pointed to Ritu controlling you on the ground in your last fight. If this fight does hit the ground, do you feel like you’ll have something to prove to her?
MB: I’m not going to prove anything to her. I’m just going to do my best. There is no need to prove anything. Although I’m not good at the ground game and wrestling, I’m not going to purposely prove anything to her for that. I’ll just try my best to not let her hold me down and give full play to my advantages.
ONE: If you beat Tiffany, do you feel that should make you the #1 strawweight contender? And would you deserve a title shot?
MB: The ranking is not important to me, but the World Title shot is important. But let’s win the next bout first.
MB: I think Xiong Jing Nan will win. Miura actually has nothing except wrestling, and her stand-up game is poor, so as long as her takedowns are defended, she should have no power left to wrestle after the first round.
ONE: Both you and Xiong are from China. If you both win, would you be willing to challenge her for the belt?
MB: I haven’t thought about it, but the point is to do your best every bout, and if I really get this opportunity, I’ll go all out.