KEY POINTS

  • Ritu Phogat is scheduled to face Itsuki Hirata in the semifinals of the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix
  • She recognizes the holes in her striking game and says that she has addressed those concerns
  • Hirata possesses a strong grappling game that Phogat acknowledges

Indian wrestling phenom Ritu Phogat will be facing Japanese grappler Itsuki Hirata in the semifinals of the Atomweight World Grand Prix at ONE: NextGen.

ONE Championship allowed the fans to vote for the semifinals matchups, and the majority selected a grappler-versus-grappler match between Phogat and Hirata. Meanwhile, Stamp Fairtex is set to take on replacement foe Julie Mezabarba in the other bracket.

Phogat revealed her thoughts on being paired with Hirata.

“I think the fans realized how interesting the matchup is with Itsuki [Hirata] from a technical standpoint,” she said.

“Obviously, my game tends to take the action to the mat, to take advantage of my wrestling game. Itsuki [Hirata], on the other hand, is a grappler. Our strengths are very similar, so to see who would win this match is going to be fun for the fans. “

Phogat defeated Meng Bo in the opening round of the Grand Prix after putting on a clinic on the mat in the second and third rounds, coming back from almost being finished in the first round.

“The Indian Tigress” also said that she has been working on her striking after getting hit with hard shots from Meng.

“I felt Meng [Bo] hit me harder and pushed me further than I’ve ever gone physically and mentally in this game. I’m confident in my striking. Everyone knows me as a wrestler, and rightfully so, but my striking has improved a lot,” she admitted.

“My teammates and coaches at Evolve MMA have helped me so much. I feel a lot faster and more technically sound than I did in my first few fights. I’m comfortable standing with Itsuki [Hirata].”

Hirata used her grappling skills to perfection in her fight with Alyse Anderson but showed that she was susceptible to strikes as she closes in for her takedowns.

The Japanese got tagged with a hard overhand right that saw her fall to the mat, but she found her footing quickly and took Anderson down with a hip toss into side control.

While acknowledging Hirata’s strong performance, Phogat made sure to remind everyone that no one has forced her to tap out.

“Her toughness is definitely something I’ve noticed. But toughness can only get you so far in this sport. I’m not an easy fighter to submit. Many have tried before, and no one has succeeded,” Phogat confidently remarked.

“I will do what I do best, put her on her back, sit in her guard, and ground and pound my way to another win. I can tell Itsuki [Hirata] what I’m going to do and she still can’t stop it. I’m supremely confident in my ground game and I look forward to testing strength versus strength with Itsuki."

ONE: NextGen will be streaming live on the official ONE Super App and the official ONE YouTube channel in Asia on October 29 at 8:30 PM Singapore Standard Time (SGT).

Meanwhile, the American audience can watch the entire card via B/R Live on October 29 at 8:30 AM ET.