“MMA Sister” Lin Heqin isn’t looking to waste any time when she makes her highly anticipated return to the Circle this Friday, 30 July.
The Chinese standout, who will meet wrestling sensation Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat in an atomweight mixed martial arts showdown at ONE: BATTLEGROUND, hopes to keep the fight standing, finish her world-famous opponent, and extend her 11-bout winning streak.
“I want to knock her out as soon as possible,” Lin says. “At least, that’s my strategy.”
Over the past few years, “MMA Sister” has become quite familiar with “The Indian Tigress.”
In fact, the 27-year-old Hunan resident felt an instant connection with her opponent after viewing “Dangal,” the 2016 Bollywood blockbuster film inspired by the Phogat family’s rich wrestling legacy.
“I learned her story from that movie, and it’s a very touching movie. It really moved me,” Lin says.
“After the movie, I cried a lot because we are all fighters. I know she is a very famous wrestler, and her family, they put a lot of hard work into [the sport of] wrestling.”
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Lin has also followed the Indian superstar’s successful transition from wrestling to the all-encompassing sport.
Phogat utilized her elite grappling skills to defeat her first four MMA opponents, earning a trio of TKO finishes and a dominant unanimous decision victory. But in May, “The Indian Tigress” suffered her first loss when Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen narrowly edged her out via split decision.
After watching those fights, “MMA Sister” knows what to look out for in Friday’s matchup.
“Of course, Ritu has a very obvious advantage. She is a tremendous wrestler. She is really good at takedown techniques, and she has very powerful double-leg takedowns,” Lin offers.
“I see Ritu’s improvement on her striking power. She got heavier and heavier striking power after all these fights in ONE Championship, but I have to say, I’m a much more powerful striker than Ritu.”
For her part, Lin is an accomplished sanda practitioner who’s brilliantly applied her phenomenal stand-up repertoire to mixed martial arts. She boasts a stellar 14-2-1 professional record, with half of those victories coming via knockout.
On paper, “MMA Sister” holds the edge in the striking department – along with an 11-centimeter height advantage – but she won’t be able to unleash her arsenal if Phogat takes her to the mat.
With that in mind, the Chinese competitor has been preparing alongside one of the promotion’s newest talents and learning specific techniques to keep the action upright.
“I was doing my training camp with Zhang Lipeng, the new signee of ONE Championship,” Lin says.
“He’s a good guy. We had a lot of fun during the whole training camp. I have learned a lot from him. He showed me a lot of grappling skills and a lot of takedown defense [strategies].”
While “MMA Sister” is rightfully wary of Phogat’s ground game, she’s shown the ability to finish fights on the ground, earning her lone submission win – a first-round rear-naked choke – in her promotional debut against Jomary “The Zamboanginian Fighter” Torres.
Above all, Lin is confident that she will leave the Singapore Indoor Stadium with her 12th consecutive win, and she hopes that would propel her to a future matchup with ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
The Chinese star knows the winner of the upcoming ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix will get the next crack at the division’s reigning queen. Still, she feels her overwhelming momentum is strong enough to bypass the tournament and earn a World Title showdown.
“I know my incredible winning streak before did all the talking,” Lin says.
“So I think I got the power to go directly to challenge Angela Lee to get the belt.”