ONE Championship’s atomweight grand prix reaches its conclusion Friday at Winter Warriors.
When the tournament launched earlier this year, names like Seo Hee Ham, Meng Bo, and perhaps even Itsuki Hirata were favored to go the distance. But injury knocked Ham and Hirtata out of the running, while Bo was defeated by eventual finalist Ritu Phogat.
Now, Indian wrestler Phogat collides with Muay Thai ace Stamp Fairtex in a classic wrestler versus striker showdown, with the winner setting themselves apart from the pack as grand prix champion — and earning a shot at Angela Lee’s undisputed atomweight title.
“In the atomweight division,” Phogat said during a face-off interview with Stamp ahead of Friday’s card, her “wrestling prowess has been unmatched. It’s been unparalleled.” With that proclamation made, Phogat added that “Stamp may not be able to defeat [me].”
Phogat, who boasts an identical 7-1 record to her Thai counterpart, added that “I want to finish the fight, be it through submission, be it through choking, but [my] goal remains to finish [inside the distance].”
The wrestler has also stated she saw fear in the eyes of Stamp when the pair previously came face-to-face. Stamp Fairtex, who said being in the grand prix final “feels bigger” than being in a world title fight, gave her response to that.
“How does she know that I feel scared at that moment? I don’t even know what I felt at that moment,” she retorted, before adding “I felt hungry, for food.”
When it comes to her opponent’s wrestling, Stamp stated that “if the fight goes to the ground, I will have to find a way to get back into my own game. I will not play her game.”
ONE Championship: Winter Warriors takes place Friday, December 3 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Ritu Phogat faces Stamp Fairtex in the women’s atomweight grand prix final.