After a promising start to the year, Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat is ready to close her 2020 with a bang – and she hopes it leads to an even bigger opportunity in 2021.
This coming Friday, 30 October, the Indian wrestling icon will attempt to get her third consecutive win on the global stage when she faces Kun Khmer World Champion Nou Srey Pov at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX in Singapore.
If Phogat beats the Cambodian striker, she could potentially earn an invitation to the world’s biggest women’s mixed martial arts tournament next year.
“My target is to get selected as one of the eight contenders for the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix,” the 26-year-old says.
But even with that future goal in mind, Phogat is fully focused on the task at hand. In this exclusive interview, she talks about her showdown with Srey Pov, why she believes she can earn a quick knockout victory, and much more.
ONE Championship: You are stepping into the Circle for the first time since February. How excited are you?
Ritu Phogat: I am really excited for this match because I have worked hard during the lockdown, and after it, too. Whatever I have learned in this time, I want to showcase it.
ONE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, events were postponed and gyms were closed in Singapore, including Evolve. How challenging was that, both physically and mentally?
RP: Lockdown was really tough for me personally, as I was away from my family in a different country, and I was not able to train during this time.
I meditated to keep myself motivated. I am still quite new to mixed martial arts, so it was not possible for me to train right away. If it was wrestling, I would have trained myself because I have several years of experience.
I ordered a boxing bag online for my home. My coach Siyar Bahadurzada helped me a lot to correct my technique. I would send him videos, and he would tell me if I was doing it right or not.
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ONE: At ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, you will fight Kun Khmer World Champion Nou Srey Pov. What do you think about her?
RP: She is a very good athlete. She has won lots of matches in her career, and I respect her for that. Our match is going to be amazing. I am sure that she will give me a tough match, and I am ready for it. I have worked really hard. I will give 110 percent in the Circle.
ONE: What do you feel is her biggest weakness?
RP: I think her biggest weakness is her ground game, which is my strength. She has a strong striking game, and I am ready for it. My coach and my team have made a game plan to counter it.
I want to showcase my striking instead of my ground game this time. I’ve worked hard on my striking during the lockdown. I want to win this match by knockout.
ONE: What would a win over Srey Pov mean to you?
RP: Every win is important to me because I have put in lots of hard work. This would help me in reaching my goal. I just want to say that I want to win this match and take one step toward my goal.
ONE: How would you like this bout to end?
RP: I would want to win this match in the first round by knockout.
ONE: Lastly, what would you like to tell your fans?
RP: I know my fans were waiting for my match for a long time. I’m as excited as they are. I want to say that the wait is over. I have worked hard for this, and now it’s your turn to show your love and support me. Please watch the match because I will not disappoint you.