Back in early 2018, when Rajinder Singh Meena became the first Indian ever to win a fight in ONE Championship it gave hundreds of thousands of Indian fight fans a glimmer of hope that an Indian too could someday make it big in the world of MMA. Rajinder recently joined us at The MMA India Show to give us an exclusive interview.
In the chat, he candidly spoke about his time at ONE, his improved ground game as well as called out his former opponent Srikant Sekhar for a rematch.
Rajinder revealed that he is currently at home and how he has been staying fit in quarantine, “I am currently at my home. I work for CRPF and as soon as lockdown started we were all given leaves. Almost everyone is facing a major problem of staying in shape since all the gyms are closed people are putting on weight, but this is such a massive problem for the entire world, so obviously life is a lot more important than gyms. I personally end up doing a light 45 minute to an hour-long workout at home. I mostly do body-weight based calisthenics workout, some shadow boxing. I am particularly focusing on strength training for my shoulders. Because when lockdown does get over and I go into a training camp then I won’t get time to focus on this and will instead work of my speed and technique rather than this.”
“I got a call from ONE Championship back when I was still in SFL. It was such a big promotion and I was representing my country in a way. So psychologically it was a very big leap because I was also worried about making a good first impression if I did well then it would have opened up the gates for plenty of other Indian fighters as well. I feel in my ONE career I paid the price of my ground game being poor back then which cost me a lot of fights,” said Rajinder.
He further explained, “The jump for Indian fighters in the level of competition that they face in Indian promotions compared to internationally is massive. Not even just the competition level but adjusting to that entire atmosphere where you have to attend press meets, shoots, it takes a while for us to get more habitual with that. Though, I feel Indian fighters are doing a lot better now in promotions like ONE. Ritu Phogat is doing exceptionally well, even Puja Tomar and Himanshu Kaushik have now won fights.”
He then talked about how his weak grappling game cost him plenty of fights in ONE, “My background is in Wushu. When I started MMA all my focus was on stand-up and striking. If I got a takedown, I did not know what to do in terms of submissions. I had little knowledge about that. When I went to ONE, only then I started focusing on grappling and learned my ground game. I trained and trained and ti eventually started showing some positive results and it is because of that I finally won my final fight in ONE on the ground with a fantastic guillotine choke.”
“I believe in that fight I tried going to the ground too quickly. I remember he hit me with a leg kick and I then went for a takedown. In hindsight, I should not have gone for the takedown. I believe my stand-up is good and then the fight could have ended a lot differently. Srikant is fantastic on the ground, he has great BJJ but I have great striking. But since then I have worked really hard on my ground game, I am only able to attend BJJ classes once a week but I train wrestling regularly. I work with plenty of experienced and phenomenal wrestlers at CRPF, so that helps me train my ground game.”
Rajinder then went on to call-out Srikant Sekhar, his last opponent for a rematch, “I would love to have a rematch with Srikant Sekhar. I believe our first fight ended pretty quickly. Neither of us really got to show off our skills. I definitely want to rematch Srikant and I want my next fight to be against him only.”
You can watch the full interview below: