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After Dominant Semis, Stamp Says Game Plan Is Key Against Phogat

Stamp Fairtex‘s dream of becoming ONE Championship’s first three-sport queen is still very much alive after she secured a spot in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix final.

The Thai star defeated Julie Mezabarba in the tournament semifinals at ONE: NEXTGEN on Friday, which catapulted her name into the concluding bracket opposite Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat.

In the process, the former Muay Thai and kickboxing titleholder continued to prove that her elite stand-up skills can carry her to the top of the mixed martial arts world.

Leading up to the semis, Mezabarba claimed that Stamp’s Muay Thai would be too slow for their encounter in the all-encompassing sport. However, the Fairtex representative proved that notion wrong, as she patiently outstruck the Brazilian to secure a convincing unanimous decision win.

Stamp would have battled wherever the action went, but she fell back on her Muay Thai skills after Mezabarba turned the bout into a striking affair.

“The fight was in MMA, not Muay Thai. But my skill set is Muay Thai, and Julie’s is kickboxing. And Julie was trying to fight kickboxing with me,” she says.

“That’s why I was using my Muay Thai with her. Because I know that I am better than her. And when I was doing Muay Thai, I knew she couldn’t compete with me and that she was going to lose.

“That’s why she was trying to take me down in the last round. And I defended her [takedowns].”

Given Mezabarba’s background in kickboxing, Stamp was fully prepared for the stand-up battle, and she tailored her fight camp accordingly.

“I did train for the ground game, but it was more to defend my opponent’s takedowns,” she says.

“I prepared more on my striking game, compared to [when I fought grappler] Alyona Rassohyna and prepared more on my ground game. Julie is quite good at kickboxing, so I focused more on my striking rather than my ground game.”

In the upcoming final, however, the Thai athlete will need to switch tactics. Phogat is famous for her wrestling and ground game, which means Stamp must avoid presenting opportunities for a submission.

The Fairtex fighter plans to utilize her own strengths by dancing around “The Indian Tigress” and touching her from the outside, but she also knows her entire arsenal will be tested.

“I already know how good Ritu is with her wrestling. I will try to keep my distance against her. I don’t want to close the distance with her. I will use my Muay Thai skills to keep at long range against her,” Stamp says.

“Ritu will be a big challenge. I need to try my best. I need to be better prepared for my next fight with her because she is very good with her ground game and wrestling.

“I will need to be even more prepared to compete with her in the next fight. I will definitely need to train more, especially my takedown game plan in the Circle. In the next fight with Ritu, my game plan has to be smarter than hers.”

Of course, when two competitors step into the Circle – especially with the stakes being this high – game plans often go out the window as competitors are forced to improvise. And with a shot at “Unstoppable” Angela Lee‘s ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title on the line, this may well happen in the Grand Prix final.

If it does, Stamp will do what she does best – and try to prevent the Indian star from doing the same.

“If I keep my distance in the fight with Ritu,” Stamp adds, “I’ll punch, clinch, knee, kick – and I will beat her.”

Stamp defeated Julie Mezabarba by unanimous decision at ONE: NEXTGEN.

Read more: 3 Takeaways From ONE: NEXTGEN

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