The takedowns and stifling wrestling of Ritu Phogat were once again the story at ONE Championship’s NextGen on Friday.
Phogat’s bout with Jenelyn Olsim was one of two semifinal fights on the night, at the ONE women’s atomweight grand prix continued.
The Philippines’ Olsim was stepping in on short notice, after Japan’s Itsuki Hirtata was forced out of the event due to a non-COVID related illness.
Olsim not only had to contend with the ground game of the world champion wrestler, but also had to be careful not to get herself disqualified in the fight, after landing several illegal upkicks during the opening round. At least two kicks landed in the sequence, which had Phogat on top and in control. A third upkick seemed to graze the Indian fighter; others went wide.
The ref opted to warn Olsim, but no point was deducted. It didn’t matter in the end. Phogat was able to continue, and opened the second round with an emphatic takedown. The fight would play out in that fashion, the third round no different, with Phogat cruising to a unanimous decision.
Phogat improved to 7-1 with the victory, and moves on to the final, where she’ll meet the winner of Stamp Fairtex versus Julia Mezabarba, the latter another tournament alternate, replacing Seo Hee Ham.
The Indian wrestler almost didn’t make it here. Earlier this year, despite having a slot in the grand prix, Phogat opted to take a fight in advance of the tournament against Bi Nguyen at ONE: Dangal, a card built around ONE’s growing stable of Indian fighters. In a shock upset, Phogat lost a split decision, the first defeat of her career.
Phogat then had to win her way back into a grand prix spot, defeating Lin Heqin in July to solidify her spot. In the opening round of the tournament, Phogat got the better of Meng Bo to advance to semifinal round.
Official Result: Ritu Phogat def. Jenelyn Olsim by unanimous decision