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ONE Championship: Ritu Phogat admits headbutting Jenelyn Olsim, ‘wasn’t aware it’s not allowed’

October 30, 2021 GMT

Ritu Phogat’s ONE Championship atomweight grand prix semi-final against Jenelyn Olsim may have ultimately been a precession, but it wasn’t without controversy.

“The Indian Tigress” (7-1) marched into the tournament final with a dominant unanimous decision on Friday night’s ONE NextGen card in Singapore, with Olsim (5-3) powerless to find an answer for her opponent’s wrestling prowess.

However, Phogat appeared to intentionally drive her forehead into the Filipino’s in the second round, a move that is illegal under Asian martial arts promotion ONE’s global ruleset.

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“Yeah, that looked like a headbutt,” ONE commentator Mitch Chilson said, as the broadcast showed a replay of the incident before the start of the third round.

The referee did not show Phogat a yellow card, which would have cost her 10 per cent of her fight purse. Phogat could also have potentially been shown a red card and disqualified if the illegal strike had left Olsim unable to continue.

Asked about the incident in a post-fight interview backstage at Singapore Indoor Stadium, Phogat laughed.

“Ah yes, I remember,” the 27-year-old said via translator. “I wasn’t aware that it’s not allowed. I wasn’t aware of it, but the minute the referee instructed me against it, I did not pursue it any further. I didn’t try it again. I respected the referee’s instructions.”

Team Lakay’s Olsim thought the headbutt was intentional too ” and that it was retaliation for the illegal up-kick she caught Phogat with at the end of the first round, when the Indian was grounded.

Olsim also escaped a yellow card from the referee, and saw the funny side in Phogat getting some payback.

“Yeah, I was shocked too when she head butted me, because I know it was illegal,” Olsim said, laughing. “And I thought that she did it on purpose. Maybe it’s because of what happened in the first round.

“But I really didn’t think it was illegal to hit her in the first round because I was on my adrenaline maybe when we were grounded. I’m sorry for that.

“When I saw her head butting me, oh my gosh, that was on purpose. But I understand that. Maybe we need to review the global ruleset.”

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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