India’s 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships gold medalist, Ritu Phogat, who is set to make her mixed martial arts (MMA) debut next month, has giver herself a two-year period to become India’s first world champion in the event.
The former Indian wrestler switched sports earlier this year in an attempt to create a history and signed with EVOLVE MMA, a Singapore-based MMA organisation which has the highest number of world champions.
“I used to follow mixed martial arts from 2012-13. I did not have much knowledge about it,” Ritu, who is in Singapore, was quoted as saying by IANS on Friday.
“When I got the offer from them, I did not want to let go and I spoke to everyone in the family. They were very supportive,” she continued.
“I used to watch martial arts on YouTube from 2012. I did not know where it is trained. But I would always ask myself, why India does not have a fighter here. This was always there in my head,” she added.
Ritu will square off against Malaysia’s veteran kickboxer Cindy Tiong in the One Championship on November 16. Tiong will also be making professional MMA debut.
Ritu, who is currently working to improve her speed, agility and strength, currently trains twice a day on a number of martial arts such as Muay Thai, wrestling, boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Talking about her maiden MMA clash, Ritu said: “I am nervous. It’s my first match in the World Championship. I have confidence in my abilities and I will put my best foot forward.”
“I want to win the World Championship belt for India. This has never been done before. I want to be the first in mixed martial arts to win that for my country. Hopefully in the next two years, I can achieve my goal. I am working really hard for that,” she said while discussing her aim.
Ritu also revealed that she misses wrestling but remains focused on her MMA goal.
“It’s in my blood. So I do miss wrestling but here also there is training in wrestling. At the moment, all my focus is on mixed martial arts. I am not thinking too far ahead,” she said.