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Puja Tomar Blasts Open the Door for Indian MMA on the UFC’s Grandest Stage

1 weeks ago By Jhon Woug

June 8th, 2024 – a night where history was prepared into the witness of Indian sport. In the high-risk-diamond-ceremonial-cage of the UFC, Puja Tomar, a fighter, who originally belongs to Muzaffarnagar, which is a small town will definitely make you occupy the initial place of a breathtaking win over her first fighter. But this was not just a victory from ego – this was the earth-shaking roar proclaiming that India was here and ready to hit the ring and govern the realm of savage science, known also as mixed martial arts.

Puja’s Journey

Born into a conservative family from Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, observing her mother coughing in the dark, Puja was always going to fight the system in some way, right from when as a six-year-old she first laced up her gloves to enter the boxing ring. Only a year ago she scripted history when, for the first time, she signed the dotted line for the UFC becoming the first Indian female fighter to secure a place in the biggest platform. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. She plodded relentlessly, and without self-doubt, because she knew that she fit into the equation.

The Fight

And oh boy, did she show the world that she belongs on the June 8th special! In a strawweight war at Louisville’s octagon, she stepped up against Brazil’s Rayanne dos Santos and inevitably left all she had in the blood-stained cage. The striking performances changed back and forth – Puja shut down dos Santos’ Cruiserweight strengths with the kick to the body at the beginning of round one while dos Santos came back at her with renewed aggression in round two.

Then came the culmination of the moments that went with them; the final frame has become an editing room and that Puja who became as famous as an Indian has ever been. In the showdown furious exchange she suddenly unleashed a piston like push kick that spelled the doom of Dos Santos as he crumbled. They say football is not won on paper and so does wrestling, it is not fought on paper however what was witnessed of Puja was her spirit, power and unblemished techniques that wrote her off as a worthy winner in the split decision that the judges had to offer.

Overcoming Adversity

For those who saw Puja crossing all these hurdles themselves, it was just the bonus for one’s hours of hard work and determination that nothing can be achieved in life unless one fights for it. As it is equally rare to see women fighters let alone Asian women in a tightly competitive country, Puja single-handedly dismantled all barriers with palpable passion.

As for the skeptics who threw away her dreams to the pit of lunacy? Instead, Puja just turned them out of her head with precision determination and started going through low-grade training gyms like a robot obsessed only with perfection. Failure after failure she was never one to fade away but instead she became eager than ever to achieve that UFC contract.

Breaking Barriers

It only arrived last year though, and when it did, Puja ensured that she claimed the mantle of being the pioneer for the MMA movement in India. However, her June 8th demolition of dos Santos was the real breakthrough – the proof that desi fighters have their fare share of skills and bear strength to annihilate the world’s best on the biggest of the platforms.

Let us not be misguided, these were not the ‘victories’ of one woman’s triumph. Puja’s victory exemplifies a Shift model that has broken barriers as prior misconceptions about Indian MMA have been dismantled. She has single-handedly blown the lid on talent in the area and made people take stock of the availability of talent from her native country.

Impact & Legacy

What really happened on June 8th is that the next generation was given a set of keys to some very important doors. Fighters of desi dojos and clubs across India now have a domestic role model and inspiration that they too can go out and rule the world if they truly have the ambition and the right opportunities in front of them.

Indian corporations and government, therefore, must take notice and place proper infrastructure for upcoming Indian talents like Puja to thrive. Indian talent must push for proper investment into structures, coaches and the nurturing of the new generation inspired by Puja’s pioneering success. This will not only encourage new talents but also create a better ecosystem for the future wrestlers in India.

Future Prospects

In regards to the vanquisher herself, there is personal change, but the ring has been shifted in a wholly new direction. The focus can now be shifted to moving even higher up the strawweight ladder of the UFC towards even greater achievements. It is quite a journey but it seems this wrecking ball of determination has the right prescription in its hands to complete.

The 8th of June, 2024 could go in record books as the day that Indian MMA made a case as to which nationality rules the future of this combat sport. But when an ordinary girl from the field who was a local level wrestler named Puja Tomar blasted the shots which opened the door to something that was beyond even imagination.

In one inspiring act on the day, she embodied what it took to make a prophecy of Indian fighters having a place on the UFC’s holy ground come to pass.

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