RITU PHOGAT HAS suffered the second loss of her pro MMA career, going down to Stamp Fairtex.
She was submitted in the second round via armbar in the final of ONE Championship's Atomweight Grand Prix.
The bout, a culmination of the year-long tournament which saw both Stamp and Ritu get two wins apiece to reach the final, served as the co-main event of ONE's 'Winter Warriors' event. Apart from a silver tournament winner's belt, the fight also carried the reward of a title shot against ONE Atomweight champion Angela Lee.
Both Ritu and Stamp came into this fight with a 7-1 record in professional Mixed Martial Arts. But both combatants boasted elaborate careers in their base sports. Ritu came off a long wrestling lineage and Stamp was the former ONE kickboxing and Muay Thai champion in her weight class. The match-up was a classic wrestler vs striker contest, but soon after the fight began it became clear that Stamp had added more depth to her game.
Early on Ritu Phogat tried to stay on the outside to avoid Stamp's long range strikes and tried to move in for takedowns through level change. Her first couple of attempts were thwarted by Stamp but she did manage to get a single leg. Stamp tried hard to remain standing but Ritu managed to pin her to the cage and work the body lock from that position to get her down.
Ritu was also able to pick up Stamp but the latter quickly grabbed a tight hold of Ritu's neck. The risk of potential head injury made Ritu decide against slamming Stamp to the canvas, as she had done to multiple previous opponents.
Although Stamp was landing odd strikes in between to halt Ritu's grappling, the latter did manage to take Stamp down through a quick transition to the single leg. But the takedown was brief; Stamp was immediately able to stand back up.
In the second round, Ritu found success early in getting Stamp down through another single leg. But the moment Stamp was on her back she managed to arch her back up and tangle her legs around Ritu's neck in an attempted triangle choke. The grip was tight but Ritu managed to survive and get her head out.
But as she was trying to transition to side control, suddenly Ritu ended up allowing Stamp to grab her arm and put her in a hard armbar. Ritu was forced to tap. The bout ended 2 minutes and 19 seconds into the second round.
This is the first time Ritu Phogat has been finished in an MMA fight. Her previous loss, to Bi Nguyen, came by a split decision. Her pro MMA record now stands at 7-2.
With this victory, Stamp Fairtex has progressed to 8-1 in her MMA career. She has won the Atomweight Grand Prix and her next fight will be against reigning champion Angela Lee (10-2) who is undefeated in this weight class. If she manages to win this fight, she will be the first athlete to win a ONE Championship world title belt in Muay Thai, Kickboxing as well as MMA.
Although this loss comes as a setback for Ritu Phogat, her career has received a major boost from this Atomweight Grand Prix. She has gone through multiple tough opponents to reach the final and proven her mettle, as well as earning valuable experience. She will remain one of the proven top contenders in the division and there's no doubt that if she manages to win the next fight or two, she will be next in line for a title shot; possibly taking on the winner of the upcoming Anglela Lee vs Stamp Fairtex bout. Given the way she managed to remain competitive for most of the bout, it will be interesting to see a rematch between her and Stamp with the world title in line.