Puja Tomar: India's First UFC Winner Triumphs Over Brazil's Rayanne Dos Santos

On Sunday, Puja Tomar became India’s first UFC champion by defeating Brazil's Rayanne Dos Santos via split decision in a thrilling 52 kg bout in Louisville, USA. The final scores were 30-27, 27-30, and 29-28. Despite losing the second round, Puja’s powerful punches in the third round secured her historic victory.

Nicknamed "Cyclone," Puja Tomar, a 28-year-old from Budhana, Uttar Pradesh, made her UFC debut at 2:30 am India time. In a tense match filled with jabs, crosses, and kicks, she rallied in the final round, shouting "Come on, come on!" to clinch the win. The intense three-round, 15-minute fight ended with the split decision in her favor.

Puja Tomar scripts history, becomes first Indian to win a bout in UFC

Who is Puja Tomar?

Born on November 25, 1995, in Budhana village, Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, Puja Tomar made history in 2023 as the first Indian woman to sign with the UFC. This 28-year-old trailblazer followed in the footsteps of fellow Indians Anshul Jubli, Bharat Kandare, and Arjan Singh Bhullar.

Before her UFC journey, Puja excelled as a professional wushu player, securing five national titles. She debuted internationally in 2012 with the Super Fight League, marking the start of her MMA career. She later competed in One Championship and achieved four consecutive wins in Matrix Fight Night by 2021. Her breakthrough came in 2022 when she won the Matrix Fight Night strawweight title.

Her success in these tournaments paved the way to her UFC contract, which she dedicated to Indian fighters, stating, "This win is not my win, it’s for all Indian fans and all Indian fighters. We are going all the way up!"

Puja's journey is a testament to her determination and pride in representing India on the global stage.

Puja Tomar scripts history, becomes first Indian to win a bout in UFC

Path to UFC Glory

Here are some key milestones in Cyclone Tomar’s journey to her UFC victory:

  • National Wushu Champion

Puja Tomar's combat sports journey began with wushu, where she demonstrated exceptional talent, securing five national titles. Her achievements in wushu provided her with a solid foundation in striking and agility, essential skills that have greatly contributed to her success in mixed martial arts (MMA).

  • Transition to MMA

In 2012, Puja transitioned to mixed martial arts, making her debut with India's Super Fight League (SFL). She made a powerful impression by winning her first fight, setting the stage for a promising MMA career. Puja went on to compete in various championships, including Matrix Fight Night and ONE Championship.

Puja Tomar scripts history, becomes first Indian to win a bout in UFC

  • Matrix Fight Night Triumphs

After enduring four consecutive losses in ONE Championship, Puja joined Matrix Fight Night (MFN) in 2021. Her career saw a resurgence as she claimed four victories in MFN, including a title defense against Russia’s Anastasia Feofanova in July. Her determination and outstanding performance in MFN reignited her career.

  • Breaking Barriers in UFC

In 2023, Puja Tomar made history by becoming the first Indian woman to secure a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the premier MMA organization globally. Her victory in the UFC not only marked a personal milestone but also represented a significant achievement for Indian MMA, as she became the first Indian to win a UFC fight.

Puja Tomar’s journey from a national wushu champion to a historic UFC win highlights her resilience and dedication, marking a significant milestone for Indian MMA on the global stage.

With inputs from agencies

Image Source: Multiple agencies

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