MMA: Former national swimmer May Ooi signs for One Championship, to make debut against Malaysian Ann Osman on Aug 18

May Ooi's first bout as a One Championship fighter will see take her on Malaysian Ann Osman in Kuala Lumpur next month.
May Ooi's first bout as a One Championship fighter will see take her on Malaysian Ann Osman in Kuala Lumpur next month.SHIN MIN FILE PHOTO

S'pore fighter, who swam at Barcelona Games, excited to fight for MMA promotion

Many people might think one is over the hill after turning 40 but for Singaporean mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter May Ooi, the milestone marked a chance to begin a new exciting chapter in her life.

On her birthday last month, she joined One Championship's stable of fighters, having previously featured in the Rebel Fighting Championship and the World Series of Fighting Global Championship.

Ooi, who represented Singapore in swimming at the 1992 Summer Olympics, told The Straits Times last night: "I'm really excited to be fighting for One because they're the biggest MMA promotion in Asia. Fighting in smaller promotions allows me to get a feel of what it's all about. The time is right and everything's going forward."

One Championship announced her signing officially yesterday.

"We've had a eye on her for a long time," said a One Championship representative. "She's someone who has a tremendous following in Singapore and has potential to do big things in Singapore."

One possible bout whetting fans' appetites is the prospect of Ooi going up against One's star fighter Angela Lee, even though both are one weight class apart.

Ooi is in the strawweight division (56.7 kg) while Hawaiian Lee is in the atomweight division (52.2 kg).

LOFTY EXPECTATIONS

She's someone who has a tremendous following in Singapore and has potential to do big things in Singapore.''

ONE CHAMPIONSHIP REPRESENTATIVE, explaining its decision to sign May Ooi.

Although this would involve either of them switching weight classes, Lee, who is the atomweight champion, told The New Paper last month that she was "all game" and added that the fight would increase the visibility of the sport locally.

Ooi, who has a medical degree from Charles University in the Czech Republic, echoed Lee's sentiments, saying: "If that fight happens, I'll gladly take it. It's great promotion for the sport.

"If you're a true athlete, you'll want to put yourself up there against the best. In the mean time, I'm focused on Ann Osman. That's what's in front of me right now."

The 41-year-old's first test is against the Malaysian at the One: Quest For Greatness event in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 18.

It is also a notable match-up as it marks the first female MMA Causeway rivalry since 2013, when the then-debutante Ann lost to Sherilyn Lim by a split decision at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Despite a 2-2 win-loss record, Ooi is confident of her chances against Ann, who boasts a 5-3 win-loss record in One Championship, at the Stadium Negara.

"I know she's a very powerful wrestler from Malaysia," she said.

"I've seen her fight Sherilyn and she's done quite well. I've got my work cut out for me, (but) I wouldn't take the fight if I weren't confident. I'll take it where it needs to be for me to finish her."

Next month's One Championship event will be headlined by a featherweight title bout between defending champion Marat Gafurov and Martin Nguyen, while Lee's 19-year-old brother, Christian, takes on his Malaysian featherweight rival, Keanu Subba, 22.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2017, with the headline 'May Ooi signs for one c'ship'. Print Edition | Subscribe