The world of MMA is no stranger to breaking barriers, and the UFC has once again set the stage for history to be made. Strawweight sensation Puja Tomar has risen from the heart of India to become the country’s first female fighter to sign with the globally recognized UFC, a news she joyfully shared, which was later confirmed by her representatives at First Round Management Europe.
Her journey, while illustrious, remains enigmatic as her UFC debut date and opponent are yet to be announced. But one thing’s for sure – with a respectable 8-4 MMA record and riding high on a four-fight win streak, Tomar’s entry into the UFC octagon promises to be nothing short of electric.
A look into her past reveals a woman of steel. Her tryst with major promotions commenced at ONE Championship between 2017 and 2020, where she engaged in four MMA battles and a single muay Thai contest. Her tenacity bore fruit with a 2019 split decision triumph against Priscilla Gaol.
Puja’s elation over her UFC contract was evident when she expressed on Instagram, “Yesterday, with the blessings of Ayesha Shroff and MFN MMA, I signed my UFC contract and became the first Indian female fighter to enter the UFC. Today marks a moment in history where a young girl from UP Budhana-Bijrol can turn her dream into reality. As an MFN strawweight champ, I want to thank Ayesha (Shroff), Krishna (Shroff), and the whole MFN team for helping me achieve this dream,”
Bharat Khandare was the trailblazer for Indian fighters in the UFC back in 2017. However, his journey was marred by a suspension after testing positive for prohibited substances.
Tomar’s zeal and determination are evident in her message to potential adversaries in the UFC. She declared, “To the UFC, and all my future opponents. Know that we fighters from India are both fierce and strong, and know that we will never give up in the face of danger. Know that I give my word today, that I will show you the strength of our people, FOR my people. We are coming, I am coming, and I have my whole country behind me.”
Beginning her combat journey as a Wushu player, she clinched five national titles before plunging into the MMA arena with the Super Fight League. She later displayed her prowess in One Championship, South Asia’s leading MMA promotion. Despite facing a series of challenges in ONE – with only one win in four fights – her spirit remained unbroken. Tomar revitalized her career at Matrix Fight Night (MFN) in 2021, where she clinched four successive victories, culminating in a stellar win over Russia’s Anastasia Feofanova in July at MFN 12.
Tomar’s past adversaries include MMA elites like Tiffany Teo, Jihin Radzuan, and the atomweight champ, Stamp Fairtex, during her stint at ONE Championship. Even after facing such titans, Tomar’s determination remained unwavering, evident in her undefeated run in MFN.
At 5’1″, Tomar’s stature might seem unassuming, but in the fight world, she’s a giant. Historically an atomweight, she’s notably taller than Loma Lookbonmee, who has carved a successful path in the UFC’s strawweight division.
With her exit from MFN, the strawweight title she once held remains unclaimed. Yet, as Tomar gears up for her UFC debut, the excitement lies not just in her fight but in the broader story it tells – that of an Indian woman redefining the limits of what’s possible in the global MMA arena.
Another Indian making waves in the UFC is Anshul Jubli. After clinching victory in the ‘Road to UFC’ event, he’s scheduled for his debut, intensifying India’s presence on the global MMA stage.
Tomar’s MMA journey, stemming from a robust Wushu background, now sees her with a record of 8-4. Tomar, along with Anshul Jubli, represents the burgeoning wave of Indian fighters ready to stamp their mark on the UFC. As the world awaits UFC 294, the anticipation to witness these Indian powerhouses in action is palpable.