Indian wrestler-turned-MMA fighter Ritu Phogat eager to get back in the ring

Ritu Phogat will enter the ring for her first MMA bout in eight months when she takes on Nou Srey Pov in The One: Inside the Matrix event on October 30.

Ritu Phogat

Indian MMA star Ritu Phogat says she draws inspiration from Russian MMA champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who boasts an incredible 28-0 record, and Indian cricket icon Virat Kohli.   -  Reuters

With two easy wins in as many bouts in her brief MMA career so far, Ritu Phogat would be looking to step up her game when she takes on Cambodian Nou Srey Pov in a much tougher challenge on October 30 in Singapore.

The One: Inside the Matrix challenge would be the first for Ritu in eight months, her previous one being on February 28. And while her wrestling pedigree has helped her so far, Ritu insists she has been working on other aspects as well during her training, including striking - something her opponent is an expert at.

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“Wrestling has formed the bedrock of a lot of my efforts in MMA but I have been working on perfecting a lot of other techniques. Initially, I had a lot of trouble with striking and jujitsu but I have improved and you will see this in my match,” Ritu said during a virtual interaction.

Unwilling to reveal further details, she simply said her opponent was “an experienced MMA champion” and that it would be “an interesting fight”. She added that Pov would be ‘shocked’ with her different strategy for the fight.

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Admitting that combat sport in an empty stadium would be a challenge, Ritu nevertheless insisted she was ready for the experience. “No audience will definitely feel different as crowds can provide motivation. But when I step into the ring, my sole focus is my opponent. Besides, an empty stadium means you can hear your coach guiding you through the match,” she reasoned.

The Indian drew her inspiration from Russian MMA champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, boasting of an incredible 28-0 record, and Indian cricket icon Virat Kohli. “His (Khabib’s) control on the ground is immense, I hope to fight like him and watch his videos to learn more. Virat Kohli is also really inspiring, I like watching his training videos,” she said.

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