The Indian Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is yet to witness a star-making moment. It is still at a nascent stage with MMA academies only recently starting to come up. There are only a handful of fighters who have made to the big leagues so far with only Bharat Khandare showing up in the UFC. Himanshu Kaushik, Puja Tomar and Rahul Raju signed with ONE Championship. But no one has set the stage alight till now.
However, it could soon change. One of the biggest wrestling stars in the country, Ritu Phogat has officially left the mat and has decided to enter the world of MMA. The Commonwealth Wrestling Championships gold medallist has joined one of the world’s most decorated MMA academies and Asia’s best- EVOLVE. Some hours later it was announced that Ritu has been signed by Asia’s biggest MMA promotion ONE Championship. She will have to move out from India and relocate to Singapore where the fight team is based.
“I am excited to have moved to Singapore to begin my new journey in mixed martial arts as a member of the EVOLVE Fight Team. My managers Birbal Sports introduced me to Evolve and convinced me that this is the future.
“It is both an honour and a privilege to join ONE Championship, the best and biggest martial arts organization in the world. Wrestling will always be my first love, but I feel that it is time to expand my horizons. I am excited to compete against the best mixed martial artists in the world and to bring glory and pride to my home country. I also look to prove that Indian martial arts is truly world-class. Thank you, ONE Championship, for the opportunity to share my talent on the global stage,” said Ritu Phogat.
Ritu belongs to the famous Phogat family. She is the sister of Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari. Phogat finished 5th at the 2018 Wrestling World Championships despite only being 24 years old. Ritu has participated in prestigious events such as the Wrestling World Championships, Commonwealth Wrestling Championships, Asian Wrestling Championships, Yasar Dogu International, and the Pro Wrestling League. In fact, she was the most expensive female wrestler at the Pro Wrestling League auction.
Now she joins EVOLVE MMA where she will try to learn new arts of fighting like Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing to complement her wrestling prowess. EVOLVE has produced some of the most famous fighters in the world like former UFC Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, Ben Askren and Shinya Aoki. EVOLVE MMA is owned by Chatri Sityodtong, who is also the owner of Asia’s biggest fighting promotion ONE Championship.