LockerRoom Logo

EXCLUSIVE: Ritu Phogat talks her ONE Debut, training Muay-Thai and BJJ, more

Renjith Ravindran
13 November 2019

Ritu Phogat is no stranger to big stages. Over the course of her extensive wrestling career, the 25-year-old has stepped foot into many international competitions and have piled up medals in them.  

However, on November 16, at ONE: Age of Dragons, it will be an entirely different experience for Ritu as she is scheduled to make her Mixed Martial Arts debut against Nam Kee Him of South Korea.

For the uninitiated, the MMA journey of Ritu started earlier this year when she was signed to Singapore based EVOLVE MMA which is widely considered to be one of the top training facilities in the world. Home to some of the most accomplished martial arts champions in Asia, EVOLVE was the perfect launching pad for Ritu.

Ritu Phogat: My stay in Singapore has been good. I absolutely enjoy learning new martial arts which I have never done before in my life at Asia’s top martial arts academy. All the instructors at Evolve have been very helpful in sharing their expertise. I am learning the tricks and trade of new martial art forms from the best and gaining confidence every day in my transition to MMA.

Fast forward to the present and the hype surrounding her ONE championship debut is at an all-time high. While everyone knows how good Ritu is with wrestling, a good portion of the MMA community in India is wondering how her striking skills are shaping up. When we posed this question to her, she noted that she is indeed enjoying her striking training.

Ritu Phogat: It is going well. I have been learning Muay Thai under the World Champion instructors at Evolve MMA and I am enjoying it. It's a new sport for me, so every day is a work in progress to learn and improve. I’m fully focused on enjoying the training process and working on improving my striking skills. Of course, there are challenges that come with learning a new sport, but I just work on overcoming them by learning new techniques, polishing established ones and improving on my current performance. I have to keep going and practice with full dedication. It’s the only way forward. I don’t think of the struggles faced while practising.

Similar to striking, jiu-jitsu is one other aspect of the training that is new to Ritu. The wrestling experience that she has is indeed an add-on but the former Asian Championship medallist admits that it has been a different experience altogether.

Ritu Phogat: My background in wrestling has really helped me in MMA especially on the ground. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is definitely different, as in wrestling when my opponent is on ground, I need to try and score points by rolling them. However, in BJJ when my opponent is on ground, I need to use various techniques to try and tap out the opponent. So yes, it really is different but I’m learning new skills and techniques every day to improve my game.

The switch of Ritu from Wrestling to MMA has already created waves in the combat sports scene in India and the awareness regarding the sports is on the rise as well. And Ritu thinks that this is only the start. Although she is not sure about her sisters, she is adamant of the fact that many wrestlers from India could transition and do well in Mixed Martial Arts.

Ritu Phogat: I don’t know about my sisters. But yes, I feel many wrestlers in India have the potential to be really good and accomplished martial artists. It really depends on the individual and their interest levels. Martial arts is also a sport which is growing rapidly and it is a very exciting time to be part of the growth as well. I think there will be many more athletes who will want to represent their country in martial arts in the coming years.

The MMA debut of Ritu will be crucial for this abovementioned growth of the sports in India and she is hopeful of getting the same amount of support from the nation that she used to get in her wrestling career.

Ritu Phogat: Please support me in my new journey in MMA, the same way you have been doing in Wrestling. Your love and support will keep me going and help me win more and more for our country. And don't forget to tune into Star Sports and Hotstar to watch ONE Championship. For all the sports fans who have never watched MMA - trust me you will fall in love with the sport the moment you tune in.

Ritu transitioned into MMA with the hope of becoming a World Champion in the sport and ONE: Age of Dragons will play host to the first major chapter of her journey. Irrespective of what goes down at the event, the MMA debut of Ritu will indeed go down as one of the most important milestones for the history of MMA in India.

BONUS: Ritu Phogat on her experience with Roshan Mainam at EVOLVE

Similar to Ritu, One of the wrestlers that transitioned into the MMA long back was Roshan Mainam who is also the EVOLVE MMA teammate of Ritu. Roshan made his ONE championship debut last week at ONE: Masters of Fate and picked up a first round submission win as well. Here’s what Ritu had to say about Roshan.

Ritu Phogat: He is a very good friend of mine and a very funny person, he cracks us up all the time. He is a very good athlete as well. He is very passionate about MMA as well

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Roshan Mainam talks his ONE Debut, Indian MMA, Ritu Phogat and more


Please login to leave a comment


TermsPrivacy PolicyAbout UsContact Us
2024 All Rights Reserved © LockerRoom Network