Ritu Phogat knocks out Kim Nam-hee to win on MMA debut

Ritu Phogat. (Source: Reuters)

Ritu Phogat won on her Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) debut after beating her South Korean opponent Kim Nam-hee with a technical knockout victory in the first round of the atomweight (52 kg) contest at One Championship's Age of Dragons event in Beijing, China on Saturday.

After walking out to AR Rahman's "Vande Mataram" into the arena before her fight, the former gold medallist at 2016 Commonwealth Games triumphed over her opponent in just over 3 minutes.

Phogat immediately scored on a takedown in the opening seconds of the bout. She executed another successful takedown moments later, this time keeping Kim on the mat and proceeding to cause damage with ground-and-pound.

After securing the mounted crucifix position, Phogat pounded Kim out until the referee intervened.

"I want to thank my sisters and my family, they believed in me and motivated me. I want thank everyone for their support, I promise I'll always give my one hundred percent," said the 25-year-old after the match.

READ | Dangal in China: The story of wrestler Ritu Phogat

Asked what she wanted to do next, she said, "I have only one goal and that's to win the One Atomweight World Championship for my country. That's why I chose 'Vande Mataram' as my walkout song, listening to it fills me with enthusiasm and makes me want to do something for India. For me, it's all about becoming the first Indian world champion in MMA."

After participating in events such as the Wrestling World Championships, Commonwealth Wrestling Championships, Asian Wrestling Championships, Yasar Dogu International, and the Pro Wrestling League, she has been learning the arts of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing training under EVOLVE MMA since February.

Apart from Ritu, three other Indians are also currently competing in One Championships, namely, Himanshu Kaushik, Pooja Tomar, and Rahul Raju.

She received a warm welcome from the Chinese crowd, owing to the popularity of the 2016 film, "Dangal", which turned out to be an unlikely cultural phenomenon there. Although she didn't feature in the film, she is quite a popular name in China, because of the film that chronicled the life of her elder sisters — the wrestlers Geeta and Babita.