Who is Puja Tomar, 1st Indian MMA fighter to win at UFC? - Hindustan Times

Who is Puja Tomar, 1st Indian MMA fighter to win at UFC?

Jun 09, 2024 06:52 PM IST

Puja Tomar emerges as the “historic cyclone” for India. Know all about the pioneering MMA fighter who beat Brazil's Rayanne Amanda dos Santos at UFC.

Indian ladies hadn't had their shot in the UFC until 30-year-old MMA fighter Puja Tomar ripped up a “cyclone” at the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday, June 8. Her pioneering fighting spirit opened avenues that may not have previously been considered viable options.

Puja Tomar(Instagram)
Puja Tomar(Instagram)

Now, standing tall on the global platform of mixed martial arts, Tomar has recorded history, not only as the first-ever Indian female fighter to sign up with UFC, but also as the first Indian to win a bout in UFC. Period.

Scripting a history the nation had never tasted before, Tomar, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, defeated Brazil's Rayanne Amanda dos Santos by split decision at the UFC Louisville. Both players went head-to-head in a fast-paced, gruelling three-round bout on Saturday. Tomar ultimately had the upper hand throughout the stretch, and she beat Santos 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.

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After making Indian MMA history and wrapping up her fight, Puja Tomar said, “I want to show the world that Indian fighters are not losers. We are going all the way up! We are not going to stop! We’ll become a UFC champion soon!”

In a news release via UFC.com, “The Cyclone” wholeheartedly claimed that her mother had always been in her corner. Her post-victory remarks aligned with these comments as she again dedicated her win to her mother.

Who is Puja Tomar?

The UFC debutante who took the split decision victory at UFC Louisville was born in Budhana village, Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. As a former national Wushu champion, Tomar has participated in other action-packed leagues, including Matrix Fight Night and One Championship.

She secured her UFC contract last year. Proving her stance as one of the best women fighters in India on the world stage, Tomar reportedly trains at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia. Fondly addressed as “The Cyclone,” the Muzaffarnagar native clinched her daunting triumph over a decade after the UFC officially opened the cage to women fighting in 2013.

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Her UFC profile also states that Tomar first took up martial arts at 12 when she lost her father. “I just wanted to protect my family after my father passed away. So I started to learn karate and kickboxing, and after that, I think I can make my career in martial arts," she said.

Now, following her mother's three-word advice, “Puja, just fight,” Tomar has achieved the unthinkable, not only for herself but for girls back in India, for whom the UFC history-maker has revealed a path not taken.

Having represented India in the World Wushu Championship, the MFN strawweight Champion went pro in 2013. Her favourite grappling technique is the Heel hook, whereas her most preferred striking technique is the Side kick.

In her post-game interview with Sony Sports India, Tomar beamed with excitement and pride as she affirmed that even before she won the match in the Octagon, merely “Walking out with our Indian song and the Indian flag gave (her) goosebumps and made (her) feel proud.”

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