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Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Puja Tomar Becomes First Indian to Win at Ultimate Fighting Championship

Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Puja Tomar Becomes First Indian to Win at Ultimate Fighting Championship

  • Popularly known as “The Cyclone,” the 28-year-old made history by beating Rayanne Amanda dos Santos by a split decision of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Puja Tomar has always heeded to her mother’s advice to “just fight.” This past weekend, the 28-year-old made history by becoming the first-ever Indian to win a bout at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Louisville, Kentucky. Popularly known as ‘The Cyclione,’ she won by the split decision of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28, beating Rayanne Amanda dos Santos.

“This win is not my win. This win is for all Indian fans and all Indian fighters,” the Uttar Pradesh native said after her win. “Before everyone thought that Indian fighters did not stand anywhere. I only thought I have to win and show the World that Indian fighters are not losers.”

Walking out with the Indian flag to the Indian national anthem made her feel “so proud,” she said. “I had goosebumps.” Inside the ring, she didn’t feel any pressure. “I just thought, ‘I have to win’. I took two or three punches, but I’m OK.” She wants to keep improving and aims to go “all the way up.”

Tomar, who secured her UFC contract last year, trains at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia. her favorite grappling technique is the Heel hook, whereas her most preferred striking technique is the Sidekick. 

She went pro in 2013, after representing India in the World Wushu Championship. She arrived for her maiden fight with “an 8-4 record that includes six knockouts and a four-fight winning streak,” according to her UFC profile. She signed with ONE Championship in August 2017 to make her mixed martial arts debut. Two years later, she debuted in a match against Muay Thai champion Stamp Fairtex at ONE Championship: A New Tomorrow, but the fight by TKO at 4.27. 

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Anshul Jubli and Bharat Kandare have represented India on the world stage in the UFC, as has Canada-based Arjan Singh Bhullar. But Tomar’s win now will now “open the door for her peers back home,” UFC said. 

A five-time National Wushu champion, Tomar is also an expert in karate and taekwondo and has won multiple medals in both disciplines. She took to Wushu, also known as kung fu, at the age of six “to express herself,” according to her Wikipedia page. She started learning martial arts at age 12 after losing her father. “I just wanted to protect my family after my father passed away,” she says in her UFC profile. So I started to learn karate and kickboxing, and after that, I think I can make my career in martial arts.”

“My mom has always been very excited for every one of my MMA fights,” she told UFC from her training camp in Bali, ahead of her June 9 UFC fight. When asked by her mother to name her biggest MMA fight, Tomar said the UFC. And when her mother expressed her desire to see her daughter in the UFC, she promised her mother to train and one day go to the UFC. “And when I told her that now I’m in UFC, she was crying and she’s so excited and so happy.”

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