In just a little over a week’s time, India’s Ritu Phogat or Thailand’s Stamp Fairtex will be crowned as the ONE atomweight world Grand Prix champion. The winner will also leave the Circle with the prestigious silver belt and a guaranteed shot at something they have both long wanted - the ONE atomweight world title.
But before they can earn that title showdown against Angela Lee, both warriors know they must find a way to better the other at ONE: Winter Warriors on December 3.
Ritu Phogat has tremendously evolved following her MMA debut at ONE: Age of Dragons in November 2019. At that time, Phogat was largely a one-dimensional fighter, rarely mixing things up when she advanced and heavily relying on her wrestling whenever needed. Nevertheless, she still earned three knockout wins in her first four MMA matches while growing as a striker.
Stamp Fairtex has also been near-flawless after making the switch from 10-ounce boxing gloves to four-ounce mixed martial arts gloves.
The Fairtex representative went a perfect 5-0, finishing four of her opponents in the process. Similar to her opposite number in the final, Fairtex predominantly utilized her standup arsenal to finish her rivals.
First career losses that propelled them to greater heights
At the turn of the year, however, both athletes suffered their first losses. Ritu Phogat went down to Bi Nguyen via split decision in May. Stamp Fairtex lost to Alyona Rassohyna via submission with only seven seconds of the third round remaining.
Both fighters disagreed with their losses. Ritu Phogat felt she deserved to triumph on the judges’ scorecards. Stamp Fairtex denied she tapped out to Rassohyna’s guillotine choke attempt.
Both moved on from those defeats and seem ready for new success.
Ritu Phogat responded to her critics with a strong display vs. Lin Heqin to earn her spot among the eight contenders in the promotion’s inaugural female tournament. She then survived an early scare against Meng Bo to book her semifinal match.
At ONE: NextGen on October 29, Phogat dominated Jenelyn Olsim throughout the 15-minute battle. Olism, of course, stepped in to replace Itsuki Hirata on short notice.
Stamp Fairtex, meanwhile, avenged her defeat to Rassohyna by a narrow margin in the quarterfinal. In the semis, the former two-sport world champion was near-perfect as she outstriked and outmuscled her way past Julie Mezabarba to punch her finals ticket.
Ritu Phogat and Stamp Fairtex are back to their winning ways, and they are eager to continue winning next Friday. Given their rich vein of form, their co-main event showdown could end up being a chess match.
What advantages do Ritu Phogat and Stamp Fairtex hold over one another?
Ritu Phogat possesses all the tools to dispatch Stamp Fairtex on the ground. Meanwhile, the Thai striking specialist can surprise Phogat in the stand-up department. On paper, it could end up being yet another classic grappler vs striker matchup. Realistically, however, both fighters have improved on their flaws.
That stated, here is a closer look at each woman's MMA strengths.
Stamp Fairtex is hands down the most dangerous striker in the atomweight division. The former ONE atomweight kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion features precise and powerful hands, thunderous kicks, and a penchant for dealing exciting knockouts.
Ritu Phogat, on the other hand, is the greatest wrestler the atomweight division has ever seen. The decorated Indian wrestling champion is a master at bringing her opponents to the ground, pinning them down, and dominating them. Can she do the same against Stamp? Only time will tell.
Whoever wins this fight will face Angela Lee for the ONE atomweight world title. They are both legitimate threats to end the Singaporean-American’s title reign.
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ONE: Winter Warriors will finally see the conclusion of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix. May the best woman win.