Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat showed that her heart matches her skill as she overcame adversity to score a momentous win over Meng Bo in their ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal bout at ONE: EMPOWER.
The Indian superstar had a torrid first round, but she bounced back to dominate the mixed martial arts battle at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, 3 September.
It was clear Phogat did not want to be a static target for her hard-hitting rival in the opening frame, and she did her best to move and stay out of Meng’s crosshairs. Still, the Chinese star managed to cut her off to find a home for her clubbing right hand.
Meng stayed upright with solid takedown defense to keep her striking options open, eventually scoring with a thudding right to the jaw that wobbled her opponent.
She hunted for the finish with a salvo of strikes before moving to mount, but when she dropped off for an armbar, Phogat found an opportunity to escape and survive.
“The Indian Tigress” found her second wind in round two and hit an early fireman’s carry to get on top. Brushing off Meng’s armbar attempt, Phogat turned the tables with a constant barrage of heavy ground-and-pound – throwing in some knees, punches, and elbows.
Meng held on through the onslaught. But when she returned to her feet, it was clear the damage had taken some of the zip out of her punches.
Phogat’s momentum continued in the final stanza. The Tiger Wang gym representative struck first with a well-timed front kick to the Indian’s face as she shot in, but it was one-way traffic from there.
“The Indian Tigress” took Meng down from the Circle Wall, passed to side control, and then dominated her rival with knees and elbows to the body and head until time expired.
After initially being forced out of the tournament, Phogat has now eliminated one of the early favorites. With her improved 6-1 record, the Evolve athlete must now be a leading contender in the stacked field.