Stamp Fairtex knows that Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat is a formidable fighter, but she resents any notion that she’s scared of her upcoming opponent in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final.
“I’m not scared at all. Ritu is a normal human, just like me,” Stamp says.
“She might think I’m scared of her. But, actually, she’s scared of me. If she wasn’t, she would not look down on me like that.”
Both women have worked hard and achieved some extraordinary results to reach this point in the historic mixed martial arts tournament, and most insiders expect a closely contested battle for the coveted silver belt.
Stamp thinks the same. And with a third ONE Championship strap within touching distance, the former atomweight Muay Thai and kickboxing queen is more motivated than ever to deliver a career-best performance.
“Ever since I heard about the tournament, I was glad to be a part of it because my dream and my path is to be an MMA champion. And I want to be labeled as a World Champion in [three sports],” the Fairtex athlete says.
“This is a very important match. If I win in this fight, this tournament, it would prove that a female Muay Thai fighter can win the MMA belt and prove to everyone the potential of Thai people – and a female fighter like me.
“The possible moment if I win, when the referee holds my hand up to say, ‘Stamp Fairtex is the winner of this belt,’ I think I will cry and scream out excitement.”
Before that vision can become a reality, though, the Thai has a very tough clash ahead of her.
The Championship Final is poised to be a classic stylistic battle between striker Stamp and grappler Phogat – two of the fastest-rising stars in women’s mixed martial arts.
Both athletes hold 7-1 records in the sport, and neither will give an inch as they try to win the tournament and earn their shot at atomweight queen “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
The Fairtex athlete is well-aware of her opponent’s talent, but she’s been eyeing Phogat for a while and believes she has her game figured out.
“I’ve been studying Ritu quite deeply. I’ve prepared for a long time to fight with her,” the Pattaya resident says.
“I think she has only one strength which is taking her opponent down and taking control of the game. That’s it. Her striking is not very good. She has a basic jab and right hand to set up her shots.”
Of course, that strength has allowed the Indian wrestling sensation to earn her spot in the final after taking out some elite opponents.
Phogat defeated a pair of dangerous strikers in Meng Bo and Jenelyn Olsim during the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, but Stamp insists those bouts revealed some frailties in “The Indian Tigress” that can be exploited.
“I think her abdomen and her chin are weak. Those are her weaknesses I think I can strike on,” the Fairtex representative says.
“Ritu is very tough and durable, she got knocked down and still recovered. So it depends on the strikes. I’ll strike and not be too aggressive in case I give Ritu a chance to take me down – just to be safe.
“The way I will cope with [her takedown threat] is probably by applying my Muay Thai skills. Because when she approaches, it happens super fast. I’ll have to use my knees or elbows to stop her.”
And that, Stamp believes, is her route to victory. Phogat will surely insist on closing the distance at all costs, and the 24-year-old Thai will be looking to make her pay.
“You might see fewer kicks, or maybe none at all. If I kick, I will have to be faster. We have to see if she will risk getting hurt when she wants to take me down,” Stamp says.
“Personally, I think I would like to use my Muay Thai skills to knock her out with my knees or elbows. There’s a high chance I’ll finish her if I hurt her. In that situation, her body is not so strong for the knees.”
It’s clear that Stamp has a game plan in mind to overcome Phogat’s high-level wrestling.
Only time will tell if the strategy pays off inside the Circle, but she will give everything she has in hopes of earning an MMA belt and her dream fight against the divisional queen.
“If I win in this match, I’ll get to challenge Angela Lee, who is my favorite fighter,” Stamp adds.
“I would be so glad to face a fighter I really admire.”