Next Friday, 28 February, the Chinese athlete has a huge opportunity to make waves in her ONE Championship debut by defeating one of the most high-profile rising stars in the sport.
Though Phogat is only 1-0 as a professional, her wrestling career and famous family means she already has millions of fans. Wu counts herself as one of those after she saw Dangal – the film about “The Indian Tigress’” family.
Phogat’s story inspired “Miss Red,” but it has also given her even more motivation to take her out at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“I feel like her fame might light me up,” she laughs. “I feel that if I beat her in this match I could be famous too! I feel grateful to be competing with her.
“I know her story through the movie, I know her family through the movie, too, and as a female fighter, I feel I can relate to it. I think when people tell you that you can’t fit in the mainstream [as a female martial artist], when they look down on you, you still keep going. I think she is great.
“I think that’s a great opportunity. I am very excited about it and I am looking forward to it. If I meet an opponent who is strong, I will also be strong. This time I am fighting Ritu and I think she is very strong.”
Wu also admires Phogat’s skills and says she could tell she has been trained well at Evolve by watching her first pro match by the way she has amplified her wrestling threat for mixed martial arts competition.
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However, Wu also believes that she has a set of skills that will be much more dangerous than the Indian’s previous opponent’s, and that she can counter her grappling offense with her own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu attack.
“I think in her first fight, she wasn’t really challenged, it was very easy for her,” she says.
“This time, I won’t let her pass [guard] so easily. I will cause her a lot of trouble. I will make her show her weakness in this match. I think I will beat her.”
With a JJIF Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medal on her résumé as well as Chinese Taipei kickboxing and sanda championships, Wu has proved that she has high-level skills in multiple disciplines. The 36-year-old also has far more experience as a mixed martial artist – her 2-1 record is built on top of a perfect 8-0 amateur slate.
All that adds up to give her a ton of confidence that she can make a successful debut on the global stage, and perhaps steal some of her rival’s thunder so she can inspire people with her story, too.
“She has a lot of fans, I want to make her fans all be mine,” she says.
“People know her because she [was portrayed in a movie], and she is very famous, but I also have my own story. I am a nurse, I play piano, I might look innocent but hey, just wait and see in the match. I will bring her a lot of trouble.
“I want to deliver the message that you can make it if you try hard and work hard to achieve your goal.”