Ritu Phogat Survives Early Onslaught, Gets Past Meng Bo at ONE: Empower

Ritu Phogat and Meng Bo, ONE Championship: Empower
Ritu Phogat and Meng Bo, ONE: Empower Credit: ONE Championship

The second atomweight grand prix quarterfinal at ONE Championship’s Empower on Friday saw Indian wrestler Ritu Phogat paired up with Chinese veteran Meng Bo.

Bo had been seen by many as a potential finalist in the tournament, while Phogat was just one fight removed from a shock defeat at the hands of Bi Nguyen. That loss had been the first of Phogat’s MMA career.

Come Friday, the “Indian Tigress” had to overcome some early adversity — but once she did, it was smooth sailing.

After some feeling out on the feet, Ritu Phogat played to her strengths and shot for a takedown in the opening round — but she was low and too far out, with Bo easily pulling free. China’s Bo showed some strong defensive wrestling throughout the round, and kept the fight on the feet — much to the chagrin of Phogat. Towards the end of the round, Meng Bo rocked the Indian wrestler, and immediately turned up the heat. She battered Phogat alongside the fence, spent some time on top landing ground n’ pound, then went belly down for an arm-bar attempt. Phogat would gut it out, but needed to correct course in round two.

She did just that early. An ankle pick led to an eventual takedown, and with Meng Bo having expended a lot of energy at the end of the first hunting the finish, the wrestler appeared to be the fresher fighter. Phogat went to work in side control, throwing hammer fists and elbows. Meng Bo scrambled to her knees, but Phogat controlled from the back, keeping her down. The position allowed Phogat to throw knees, with Bo now in a precarious spot. She’d wind up on her back again after that, Phogat working from half guard. They’d finish the round on the feet, with Phogat finding a home for her right hand.

With the fight still up for grabs, the third round saw an early front kick from Meng Bo hit the head of Phogat as she was moving forward, but Phogat survived. They’d tie up by the fence, then go to the ground with India’s Phogat once again in side control. The shots to the body were taking the wind out of Meng Bo’s sails. Phogat was in control in half guard, dropping ground n’ pound as the final bell sounded.

In the end, it was another strong showing from Phogat. She claimed the unanimous decision victory, and moves forward in the grand prix.