Dangal duo Mahavir & Ritu Phogat get chatty about Indian MMA landscape
As the ‘Indian Tigress’ Ritu Phogat sets off to her next victory at ONE: Dangal on 15th May, the MMA sensation and her esteemed father Mahavir Phogat in a first of it’s kind virtual interaction, opened up about her upcoming match and life beyond the circle. Phogat is scheduled to face Bi Nguyen at ONE: Dangal, a tape-delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium that will air on your screens on 15th May.
Talking about ONE: Dangal Ritu Phogat said, “It is a special IP for the Indian market as it celebrates a host of Indian Mixed Martial Arts athletes and presents them on a global stage. It reflects India’s resilience, fighting spirit, and her mettle to take challenges head on. It also goes on to show that the future of MMA is India, and that we have the potential and the muscle to add a new dimension to the sport. Coming from the land of ‘Dangal’, the core of MMA is deeply rooted in our culture and we have the required skill-set to succeed. We have a plethora of super fighters in the country and it is about time that we recognize them.”
On being regarded as the ‘Indian’ Khabib Nurmagomedov, she said, “I look up to him and he has been a great source of inspiration for me. I love his control over his opponents and his ‘explosive’ aura in the circle.”
Talking about his daughter’s move to MMA and making Singapore her second home, veteran Indian wrestler, Mahavir Phogat said, “I have full faith in Ritu and the way she is training. I know she has been practising hard and I am confident that she will leave no stone unturned in bringing glory to her country. I’ve always taught my girls that the country comes first, so give it your all and make sacrifices a part of your DNA so that we can unfurl the Indian flag on a global stage. The world should know that the number spot in combat sports only belongs to us.”
When asked about how she has been dealing with the lockdown, Ritu, who has been living in Singapore to train for her Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) titles said, “It has been over a year since I was in India and I miss home dearly. I’ve lost out on so much time with my family, but all of this has made me stronger. My father constantly reminds me why I have come to Singapore, he makes sure that I never lose sight of my goal. Thanks to his motivation, I have been able to stay mentally strong despite the challenging Covid-19 situation back home and all over the world.”
Commenting on her fighting techniques and move to MMA, Phogat said that along with improving her striking skills, she has also been working hard on her punching techniques in order to give her experienced opponent, who is also known as the “Killer Bee”, the toughest fight possible. Phogat aims to combine her wrestling knowledge with MMA techniques and the strength and grit of the Indian soil to finish in first place.
The MMA icon from India also spoke about her experience pertaining to ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition’ - her first ever reality TV show. “It was an honor to be a part of the show. The values of MMA can indeed help you thrive in life and it was great to see the marriage of business and sports to create a next generation of strong-headed and value-inclined business leaders. Sports can augment your foundation to grapple with challenges that life throws at you. I truly believe that you can’t succeed in business or anything else in life without the ‘mind’ of a sportsman. Hence, I really took a liking to the show,” said Ritu.
Talking about the situation back home, Ritu Phogat said, “The situation in India is heart-wrenching to say the least. I stand with my countrymen during this time of grief with the hope that we will come out of the storm sooner and stronger than ever before. But I urge each one of you to take all the necessary precautions and follow protocols for your own good and in the best interest of others around you. Let’s continue to be there for one another. I strongly believe that our unity will help us get through this. Also, focusing on mental health and physical well- being is equally important. So stay home and stay safe but stay connected.
Also, I would like to extend my gratitude and respect to all the frontline workers who are the real heroes of India and my love and comfort to people battling this contagion. You are the real fighters. The spirit of the people of India keeps me going.”
ONE: DANGAL features a host of Indian martial arts stars, and aims to showcase the very best that India has to offer.
In the main event, Indian wrestling champion Arjan “Singh” Bhullar challenges Filipino-American superstar Brandon “The Truth” Vera for the ONE Heavyweight World Title. Other Indian athletes scheduled for action include Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat and Roshan Mainam.
Catch Ritu’s bout on Star Sports Select 2, Star Sports First, and Disney+ Hotstar on Saturday, 15th May, 3:30 pm onwards.