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Don’t underestimate me, says Ritu Phogat before facing Jenelyn Olsim

Published at :October 28, 2021 at 8:11 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ONE )

Gaurav Singh

The Indian fighter turned towards MMA in 2019.

Indian wrestling phenomenon Ritu Phogat is entering her next bout with fire in her eyes. After being counted out and underestimated since she made the transition to mixed martial arts in 2019, the 4th ranked atomweight contender has grown in both skill and confidence and has put together a string of impressive performances to erase all doubt.

Ritu Phogat now warns detractors, and any of her upcoming opponents not to doubt her again.

“Don’t underestimate me because I have the power, I have the strength to prove you wrong. Watch out, don’t underestimate me at all,” a fired-up Ritu Phogat said in a recent virtual faceoff interview with ONE Championship.

Most of the criticism being hurled at Phogat surrounds her striking ability. Coming from a predominantly wrestling background, being a member of Indian wrestling royalty, Ritu Phogat is an ace on the mats. However, the striking aspect of mixed martial arts is a completely new field of competition for her. Naturally, fans question her ability to mix it up with some of the best strikers in the world.

While Phogat has been working hard on her striking skills at Evolve MMA in Singapore, she says her style combines both worlds into one seamless approach. She said, "People sort of underestimate my striking because they haven’t seen much of my striking yet. All the while, wrestling has been my strongest weapon and I continue to leverage this to pin down my opponents."

"I will continue to capitalize on this to emerge victorious in my upcoming fights. Definitely striking is an area that I am improving in and you would get to see a lot of it in the upcoming matches."

Ritu Phogat is scheduled to make her return to the circle opposite the Philippines’ Jenelyn Olsim in the semifinal round of the historic ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, which resumes at ONE: NextGen and broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday. Olsim steps in as a late replacement for Phogat’s original opponent, undefeated Japanese judoka Itsuki Hirata, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a non-COVID related medical issue.

The sudden change in opponent hasn’t seemed to bother Phogat one bit. She remarked, "I’m confident about my abilities and my training. I know that I can take on anyone. So definitely, it’s not something that shakes me up. I wouldn’t want to underestimate my opponent. Yes, I’ve seen certain gaps but I don’t want to disrespect my opponent by calling her out in a public forum. I learned it well while I’m ready to fight Olsim, I wouldn’t want to speak much about her weaknesses. I think Jenelyn deserves the spot in the Grand Prix too."

If she can beat Olsim, Ritu Phogat will book herself a ticket to the final round to square off with the winner of the other semifinal matchup - a showdown between third-ranked atomweight Stamp Fairtex and Grand Prix alternate Julie Mezabarba.

"I’m usually untouched by pressure. I don’t allow myself to get overwhelmed or intimidated by pressure. I know that I am prepared and I follow the course of the game plan. All I’m focused on is to wind up the match at the earliest. I want to wrap it up as soon as I can," She concluded.

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