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Hope my win will help people know what MMA, UFC is: Puja Tomar after becoming first Indian to win UFC fight

First Published: 22nd June, 2024 20:59 IST

Puja Tomar became the first Indian female MMA fighter fighter to sign a contract with UFC and she was aware that her fight would open doors for many fighters in

Puja Tomar became the first Indian fighter to win a fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship on June 9 when she went on to beat Rayanne Dos Santos of Brazil in the Women’s 52 Kg weight category also known as Women’s Strawweight.

“After this victory, many people got to know what MMA fighting because in the place where I come from there being a girl is a very difficult thing. After this win I think people will now know be it girl or boy what UFC is,” said Puja Tomar while speaking to ANI.

Her dedication and relentless training led her to excel in Wushu, a martial art known for its complex techniques, earning her several national championships and international recognition. And finally, she made it to Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“I was aware that I am the first Indian fighter to win a match in UFC. I was also aware that winning this fight is also very important for me and hope this win changes a lot of things,” added Puja.

Puja Tomar became the first Indian female MMA fighter fighter to sign a contract with UFC and she was aware that her fight would open doors for many fighters in the country.

“The moment I was getting ready for the fight and walking inside with India’s national flag then only one thing was running in my mind that I have to win this fight and the only thing was in my mind was that I have to win because in India no one knows what MMA is. So, it was very important for me,” said the UFC fighter.

The moment Puja won her bout she was very emotional as she has come from a very humble background and had to fight all the odds to get to where she is. Born in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, in a family of a farmer and two sisters. The fact that Puja was a third child – it had a quite big impact on her parents, whose responsibilities multiplied.

“That thing I can never forget. It was an amazing thing for me. I was very emotional and it was a huge moment for me,” she said.

Puja’s childhood was not so fascinating. She said that she likened herself to boys by using their style of haircuts or clothing. Street fights were also a usual thing for her.

“The journey is very long and I hated boys since my childhood. Sorry to say this but it is like this (laughs) but in my family, everyone wanted a boy even my grandmother but not my mother. She was the only one who supported me and loved me. My father too wanted a boy. So, whever I used to see boys I used to feel that they should not come anywhere close to me. So, since then it was all about watching Jackie Chan’s movie and whenever there used to be a fight anywhere I used to feel like I have to beat them up. It is then I got to know about Ronda Rousey, MMA fight. There were a lot of financial problems but I still went to martial arts. After that it was my dream to compete in UFC and win it,” explained Puja Tomar.

Known by her nickname, “The Cyclone,” for her swift and powerful moves, Puja transitioned to mixed martial arts (MMA) driven by a desire for new challenges and broader exposure. Her striking skills, agility and resilience quickly made her a prominent figure in the MMA circuit.

Puja Tomar’s inspiration was none other than UFC legend from the United States of America Ronda Rousey. It was her fights that inspired her to get into martial arts.

“I used to see Ronda Rousey and see that even she is a girl who is fighting in such a huge platform and she is telling the whole world that despite being a girl she is fighting and winning. So, if she being a girl can win it then why can’t I win,” said Puja.

Passion for martial arts also brought Puja a lot of problems with paternal and maternal family members who didn’t like it at all. In their opinion, this sport wasn’t made for Indian women, whose possible injuries could ruin the family name. The situation got worse after Puja’s father passed away. The family issued an ultimatum to Puja’s mother -stop her daughter from doing martial arts or they will not support her anymore. Her mother refused and this decision played a key role in Puja’s transformation into a professional athlete.

Puja continued her path and after a while, she decided to change from karate to wushu and now after winning her first UFC fight, she aims at a better performance in the next match.

“In my last fight, I was aiming to do a lot of things but couldn’t do. My performance was not that great. So, I have to rectify a lot of mistakes which I did in my previous fight and work hard for the next fight that it doesn’t go to three rounds and I should finish this fight quickly,” said Puja Tomar.

Her journey from a small town to the global stage exemplifies determination and perseverance. She continues to encourage others to pursue their dreams in sports and martial arts, embodying the spirit of dedication and hard work. (ANI)



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