When Ritu Phogat steps into the ONE Championship circle on Friday in Singapore, she’ll be entering off a loss for the first time in her MMA career.
The standout Indian wrestler fell to Bi Nguyen in her last outing, a split decision that some felt could have gone her way. With that in mind, Phogat stated at this week’s ONE Championship: Battleground media day that her “efforts will be focused on finishing the fight in time.”
Within 15 minutes, in other words. Phogat has no desire to go back to the judges after that split decision. In the process, the 4-1 fighter hopes to prove that she “is a winner,” and that she deserves “every bit” of where she is in the sport.
The backdrop to Phogat’s fight with Lin Heqin on Friday is the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, where India’s own Mirabai Chanu won a silver medal in weightlifting earlier this week. That’s a source of inspiration for Phogat, who herself competed to great success in the Commonwealth Games.
“We’ve just won the weightlifting medal, and that sort of encourages [me] to perform better.” In fact, India’s performance at the Olympics, said Phogat, “it’s a story for [me] to emulate at the ONE Championship circle as well.”
And Phogat hasn’t given up on her own Olympic dreams either. The 27-year old told media outlets that “since the time [I’ve] been a kid, [my] dad taught [me] wrestling with only one dream.” That dream was to represent her country at the Olympics some day. “[I] aspire to be at the Olympics some day, and hopefully I will.”
ONE Championship: Battleground takes place Friday, July 30 in Kallang, Singapore.