The greatest female tournament in mixed martial arts history will come to a thrilling conclusion this Friday, 3 December, as Stamp Fairtex and Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat square off in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final.
The ONE: WINTER WARRIORS co-main event has the combat sports world buzzing, with pundits and fellow stars debating whether Stamp or Phogat will claim the coveted silver belt at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Both finalists are in their last stages of preparation, but they took some time away from training to speak with ONE Commentator Michael “The Voice” Schiavello during Virtual Media Day this week.
For her part, Phogat exuded confidence about the chance to compete for her first strap on the global stage.
“Nervous? Not one bit. But excited for sure,” the Indian star said.
“I’m inching closer to my goal, and I’m super enthusiastic about it. Preparation has been good, and I’m really excited about the upcoming match.”
On the other side, former ONE Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion Stamp has been in this kind of crucial matchup before, but the magnitude of the occasion isn’t lost on her.
“[Friday’s fight] feels bigger because the World Grand Prix Championship Final is in a different sport from the [World Title fights] that I did in Muay Thai and kickboxing,” she said.
“I think that everyone has some pressure in every fight, so both Ritu and I will be feeling the same amount of pressure.”
In terms of the stylistic matchup in the Circle, much of the focus has centered on the battle between the Indian’s world-class wrestling and the Thai’s elite striking.
Those skill sets have already carried #4-ranked Phogat and #2-ranked Stamp to the tournament final, and now, they’re both ready to tackle their opponent’s biggest asset.
“I am aware her standing game is extremely strong and she’s been a champion. I respect her skills. However, I’ve left no stone unturned in honing my striking,” Phogat said.
“The ground is my strength. I want to pin my opponent down, and that’s where I want to keep them. You can consider the match over should it reach the ground.
“[Stamp] is going to be facing ‘The Indian Tigress’ this time around, and the tigress is on the prowl. I’m going to unleash my strength and power on 3 December. So, watch out.”
Upon hearing that, Stamp offered strong words in response.
“I think if she tries to stand and fight with me, she will get knocked out,” the Fairtex representative said.
“[If I hurt her] I will have to improvise depending on the situation. I will see if I have to take risks – there is a risk of her taking me down if I act too fast.
“If the fight goes to the ground, I will have to find a way to get back to my own game. I won’t play her game.”
The winner of the Grand Prix will also earn the next shot to challenge ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee – and the reigning queen made a surprise appearance at Media Day to share her thoughts on the battle.
“I really love Stamp and Ritu. I think they both have such big hearts, and they’re both very humble,” Lee said.
“I just want to congratulate them both on being in the finals of this World Grand Prix tournament. I’m very eager to see how they face off on December 3.”
The World Champion wouldn’t get drawn into making a firm prediction about the Grand Prix finale, but she wished both athletes well and said she was excited to face one of them in 2022.
“I think both ladies are world-class in their styles,” Lee offered.
“I think it comes down to who’s able to utilize their mixed martial arts game as a whole, who can really incorporate mixing up the ranges and the styles, and who has a more complete MMA game.
“I just want to wish you ladies the best of skill. I know that both of you have trained extremely hard. Having the title of being a World Grand Prix Champion is truly special. I know both of you will fight extremely hard, and I’m looking forward to meeting the winner next year.”
With that extra incentive and words of encouragement from Lee, both Stamp and Phogat said they were even more determined to succeed when they square off this Friday.
“You are my idol,” Stamp told the titleholder. “I’ll do my best to win this fight, and I’ll try my best to have a fight with you.”
Phogat added, “What Angela has said has been extremely motivating to me. I’m going to make sure that I put on my best [performance] and I hope that I meet her someday soon in the Circle.”