Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans in the city were treated to a spectacular show on Friday night at the Super Fight League (SFL). Mumbai girls and best friends — outside the ring — Manjit Kolekar (21) and Ritika Singh (19) locked horns in the first professional all-Indian female bout in MMA history.
The duo had squared off in an amateur bout last year, where Manjit emerged triumphant, and it was here that their friendship was born. “When we fought for the first time last year, we didn’t know each other. But after the fight, we became close,” said Manjit.
Terming themselves “inseparable”, they were just that as their first SFL bout began on Friday. After a few seconds of gauging each other, Manjit had Ritika on the mat. A couple of minutes of grappling ensued before the referee had to separate the duo. Ritika then resorted to some kickboxing that sent Manjit on the defensive even as the judges sounded the bell to end Round One."
The second round witnessed a turnaround though as Manjit pinned Ritika down and began pounding her. Ritika tried to defend, but the referee was soon forced to award the bout to Manjit via a technical knock out (TKO). The women celebrated with a hug followed by a little jig, much to the delight of the 100-odd spectators. Asked how she felt after the fight, Manjit said: “There are mixed emotions for me. I feel good because I won, but I had to beat my friend, so I feel bad too. She’s like family, but when we enter the cage, we forget all relations.” Ritika agreed: “When the fight started, we forgot we were friends, but when it ended, we were dancing.”
MMA as self defence
Speaking about their unorthodox choice of combat sport, Ritika, who took up Karate at the age of five, said: “Women often ask me why I’m into MMA and I tell them that this game is important and practical. You learn self defence by which you can protect yourself.”
Results: Soro Ismael bt Siddesh Shirgaonkar (30-27) via a unanimous decision, Ranjith K bt Debajit Roy via submission, Lakhwinder Singh Sekhon bt Mohamed Abdel Hamid via submission, Rajesh Sallan bt Sarabjit Singh via submission, Rajinder Singh Meena bt Amitesh Chaubey via submission, Sandeep Yadav bt Amit Kumar via submission