'My father (Mahavir Singh Phogat, who Aamir Khan played in Dangal) has given me a few tips which you will get to see on the fight night.'
'I have given my 110 per cent for this fight.'
Away from the ring for nine months, a fit-again Ritu Phogat is geared up to step inside the ONE Championship cage again, against Singapore's Tiffany Teo on Thursday, September 29. "You will see a new version of the Indian Tigress battling in the cage this time," she promises us/
In a virtual interaction with the media, the Indian wrestler-turned-MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter promised fans of the sport a better version of her in the coming contest.
One of the most effective tools in an athlete's training box is repetition. The world's top athletes practice their routines, workouts and a million times over in training. They live by the mantra -- Eat, sleep, train, repeat. The 28-year-old Indian Tigress does exactly the same.
Her virtual press conference was no different. She disclosed that she has ironed out her weakness and learnt a lot from the preview clash against Stamp Fairtex and voila, and we have a new version of Ritu Phogat!
The Commonwealth wrestling gold medallist, who has a 7-2 record in her MMA career with three knock-out wins and four wins by decision, will clash with Teo in the atom weight category.
Ritu comes from a family of wrestlers who have won medals and laurels at the highest level and she knows very well what it takes to be at the top of one's game. She dreams of competing in the Olympics just like her sisters, but for the moment she is focusing on the fight and realising her dream of becoming India's first-ever MMA world champion.
Laxmi Negi/Rediff.com listens in:
Since you joined the One Championship till now, how will you rate your fitness?
Fitness has been an integral part of my daily life. Right from my childhood I have been inclined toward fitness. After my fight in December, against Thailand's Stamp Fairtex, I experienced some pain in my shoulder and when I showed it to a doctor my fears were true. It was a serious injury.
With the one shoulder strapped, I did not stop training. I continued with my leg exercises. I just didn't stop.
So I can proudly say that I am a better version of myself. I am sharper and ready for the fight. You will see a different Indian Tigress in the cage on September 29.
What did you do in the injury-induced break?
I spent a month at home with my family. I was meeting them after two years (due to COVID-19) and it was overwhelming for me.
Just now also, I spent a few days at home and I am rejuvenated for my fight against Teo.
Your opponent is from Singapore, she will be fighting in front of her home crowd. How much does it play in the mind that everyone is against you?
I do not care about the fact that she is from Singapore. I believe that I have the good wishes of crores of my countrymen.
I am determined to beat her in front of her home crowd!
My father (Mahavir Singh Phogat, who Aamir Khan played in the film Dangal) has always motivated me and told me that never allow fear to grapple your mind. He also has told me to never give my opponent a chance to punch me. I will always keep those words of wisdom in mind and go for the fight.
How have you prepared for the fight?
First of all, it was an honour for me that Tiffany Teo challenged me for the fight. My opponent is a top fighter; she is the number one contender in atom weight. At the same time, I am excited; I can't wait to get into the cage for my first fight of the year, season!
My coach and I have been watching a lot of her videos and we have tried to do a few new things in the cage.
While I was in India, I chalked out a plan with my father about the big fight on 29th. He has given me a few tips which you all will get to see on the fight night. I cannot reveal much now. All I can say is I have given my 110 per cent for this fight.
I always believe that once I am out of the cage there should not be any regrets in my mind that I didn't try this or that.
What have you learnt from your last fight? Would you like to incorporate the lessons from that fight?
It wasn't my day against Stamp Fairtex. I hope that I get a rematch against her. See, losses don't mentally disturb me. It makes me all the more determined not to repeat the same mistakes, reflect on my drawbacks and work on them before a new fight.
I can assure you that I have immensely improved after my last fight. I am eager to show off all the new techniques I have learnt all these months. Like I have been saying, you will all see a new Indian Tigress.