Meng Bo’s opponent for the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix has changed multiple times, but the Chinese striker is ready for anybody.
In the end, her foe will be Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat, who was temporarily removed from the tournament but will now compete against Meng in the quarterfinals at ONE: EMPOWER on Friday, 3 September.
Matched up with the Indian grappling wizard once again, the Tiger Wang Gym representative has moved beyond worrying about factors she can’t control and is solely focused on finishing whoever stands across from her.
“I don’t care much about whether it is Ritu or another opponent. I can fight with anyone,” Meng says.
That indifference comes from her overarching goal of winning the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, claiming the tournament’s silver belt, and earning her shot at the reigning divisional queen.
“I’m participating in this Grand Prix because I want to win the [Grand Prix] Championship first, then have the chance to challenge for the real World Championship — and to beat Angela Lee,” Meng says.
“Once I defeat Ritu in the Grand Prix, then I can continue the championship journey in the following matches. Besides, a victorious start will make me more confident, physically and mentally.”
That doesn’t mean the #2-ranked atomweight contender is overlooking her first matchup.
Meng is well-aware of the strong skill set that Phogat brings to the Circle, and she has worked hard to be ready for it when they face off.
Those preparations have not always been easy, as the Chinese star had to mix up her training camp for opponents with different styles. But in the end, the work she initially put in to face Phogat has not gone to waste.
“The change of opponent did cause some difficulties,” Meng says.
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“In the beginning, my opponent was Ritu. According to her strengths, I mainly needed to prepare for takedown defense. But later, my opponent was changed. They were more stand-up type of fighters, so [I changed my focus].
“Then, my opponent was changed to Ritu again. I thought, ‘Fine, I had prepared to fight against her since the beginning. It might not be too bad if I just resume that preparation.'”
With two knockout wins in her three victorious ONE outings to date, the 25-year-old Meng is confident that she can use her concussive kickboxing arsenal to overwhelm the Indian wrestling sensation.
“I think the most important thing to prepare is takedown defense. She’s much better at takedown skills than striking. My wrestling skills are not bad, either, but stand-up is still my strength,” she offers.
For her part, Phogat has been developing her striking game and looking stronger in that area, but the Xi’an resident still thinks she is far enough ahead that her route to victory will come on the feet.
That said, Meng will take any opportunity that’s offered to her and believes “The Indian Tigress” will be in just as much danger on the canvas.
“Ritu said that the ground is [where she can dominate], but I believe it’s a good idea to have a jiu-jitsu battle between us,” she says.
“However, Ritu added that she wants to knock me out with stand-up attacks. Then I thought, ‘Right, we can also compete in striking.’ I will finish her with either ground techniques or striking.”
Overall, the Chinese star has her game plan set out and the result in mind as she begins her charge toward the top — though she openly admits that nothing is certain.
“My own goal is to knock her out, but nobody knows what will happen in the real fight,” she adds. “It depends on performance — I’ll try my best to win by KO.”