The first question out of the gate following Ritu Phogat’s win over Lin Heqin at ONE Championship: Battleground on Friday was whether the victory had helped erase her loss earlier this year to Bi Nuygen.
Prior to that split decision loss, Phogat had been an undefeated prospect who looked dominant fight after fight. The Indian wrestler came close against Nguyen, but ultimately dropped the narrow decision.
Bouncing back with a unanimous decision victory opposite Heqin that saw her wrestling dictate the fight, Phogat had a return to form. Or perhaps not quite a return, as she said via translator in a post-fight media appearance that she “believes that I performed extremely well in the last bout too.”
With the Battleground match-up, Phogat continued, she just “reinforced it loud and clear” that she deserves every bit of the win. Phogat also suggested that she is the best in the game, and deserves every bit of a spot in the upcoming atomweight grand prix.
Since the Nguyen fight, Phogat has been working to round out her game. Though she didn’t necessarily get to show it Friday, “you will see a lot of kickboxing and striking and wrestling, and you’re going to see a very successful amalgamation of all in the circle.”
One thing that Phogat had been determined to avoid on Friday was the scorecards. That, after her loss last time out could have gone either way. Despite her best efforts against Lin Heqin, however, Phogat could not put the Chinese fighter away.
When it came to her approach to the fight, Phogat noted that she was “trying to bridge a couple of gaps that were in [my] previous [fight].” All Phogat was focused on, she added, “was to completely annihilate” her opponent, and to make it loud and clear that she was there for the win. In short, she wanted to make it clear not just to the judges, but to the fans and everyone watching, that she had the win.
She certainly did. Aside from some early success on the feet, Heqin was unable to get off much offense. Phogat now moves onward — and she is absolutely open to a rematch with Bi Nguyen. She also wants back in the atomweight grand prix, expected to kick off in September. Originally scheduled for May, Phogat was to be part of the tournament prior to the Nguyen loss.
Now, Phogat says a return to the grand prix is her “focus, and the ultimate goal. There’s no deviation in that.” Phogat also believes that “I am the best contender in the atomweight grand prix,” she stated.
Watch the full ONE Championship: Battleground post-fight press scrum with Ritu Phogat above.