Just five weeks removed from her latest victory, rising atomweight star Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat is ready to step back inside the Circle and continue her positive momentum.
The undefeated Phogat knows Torres will be her toughest test since joining ONE Championship, but it’s a challenge she’s embracing.
“This match is going to be really good,” the 26-year-old says. “[Torres] is really good, and it is going to be an interesting match.”
For Phogat, this is another big step in her quest to become India’s first Mixed Martial Arts World Champion.
Thus far, the wrestling legend has made a flawless transition to the sport, decimating every woman who’s stood across from her in the Circle.
That victory was extremely special for the Indian star, who was inspired by the outpouring of support she received from her compatriots leading up to the fight.
“It was a very emotional moment for me,” Phogat says.
“My fans have always supported me, and I hope that they continue doing it. It motivates me a lot. I am grateful to my countrymen. I want to keep going, marching forward with their support. I fight for my country and when my nation is behind me, it is a blessing.”
There’s no doubt India will be behind Phogat once again on 4 December, but her Filipina foe will be looking to spoil the party.
Torres, an SEA Games Sambo Medalist, is a seasoned veteran who trains under former ONE World Title challenger Rene Catalan at his Catalan Fighting System gym in Manila, Philippines.
Under Catalan’s tutelage, the 24-year-old experienced a hot start to her mixed martial arts career. She finished her first four opponents – including Thai pioneer Rika “Tiny Doll” Ishige and Team Lakay athlete April Osenio – but later fell to some of the atomweight division’s top-ranked contenders, including “MMA Sister” Lin Heqin and Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi.
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Nearly a year removed from competition, Torres feels refreshed and has added some new tricks to her all-around game.
“The Indian Tigress” is well-aware of those developments and knows she is facing a more experienced opponent. At the same time, her own confidence is unwavering.
“Definitely, she is a good fighter,” Phogat says of Torres. “She is going to be a challenge for me. I have watched her fights, and she is good. I respect her a lot, but I trust my training and hard work.”
Phogat especially trusts her world-class grappling, which earned her many prestigious accolades, including a gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships.
Those ground skills could come in very handy against Torres, whose wushu-inspired striking will present some danger. But while observers may see this as a classic striker-versus-grappler matchup, the Evolve product might have a trick or two up her sleeve.
“She has a strong stand-up game, but I think my wrestling game is better. I am hoping that my ground game trumps her game,” Phogat says.
“For the rest, let’s see how it goes inside the Circle. I hope that whoever is watching, they see me as doing something different. I would surely like to do something different this time.”
Phogat always seems to bring something new to the table. In her last fight, for example, she displayed her boxing acumen before taking the action to the canvas.
But no matter how the matchup with Torres plays out, a victory is the ultimate goal for Phogat. Getting her hand raised would continue a dream start to life in ONE Championship and potentially earn her a spot in ONE’s Athlete Rankings.
Still, “The Indian Tigress” refuses to look ahead. She has big ambitions, but she’s fully focused on the task at hand.
“I am not thinking like that,” Phogat says of her chance to crack the rankings. “I just want to end the year on a winning note.”