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Ritu Phogat sets 2-year deadline to become MMA World Champion

Ritu Phogat sets 2-year deadline to become MMA World Champion
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Highlights

Former Indian wrestler Ritu Phogat, who is all set to make her mixed martial arts (MMA) debut next month, has given herself two years' time to try and become India's first world champion in the discipline.

Kolkata : Former Indian wrestler Ritu Phogat, who is all set to make her mixed martial arts (MMA) debut next month, has given herself two years' time to try and become India's first world champion in the discipline.

A 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships gold medal winner, Ritu -- who comes from the famous Phogat family of wrestlers -- switched to mixed martial arts earlier this year in a bid to create history.

"I used to follow mixed martial arts from 2012-13. I did not have much knowledge about it," Ritu told IANS from Singapore on Friday. Ritu had signed with a Singapore-based MMA organisation, EVOLVE MMA, which has the highest number of world champions. "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."

"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," said the 25-year old. Ritu is currently concentrating on improving her strength, agility, and speed. She trains twice a day on different martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling and boxing.

On November 16 in the One Championship, Ritu will take on Cindy Tiong, a veteran kickboxer from Malaysia who is also making her professional mixed martial arts debut. "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."

Asked about her aim, Ritu, who became the first Indian to win silver at the World U-23 Wrestling Championships in 2017, said: "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."

Ritu said she does miss wrestling, but she is focused on her goal at the moment and is not thinking about making a return in the near future. "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."

Ritu also spoke about cousin Vinesh Phogat who recently sealed an Olympic berth for Tokyo and is considered a bright medal prospect."She missed her medal last time (Rio 2016) due to injury. That was heartbreaking. Now she has qualified again and the country has high hopes from her. I am hopeful that she will bring a medal for India," Ritu concluded.

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