MMA: Point-scoring the new priority for Ooi after Tokyo loss

Singaporean MMA exponent May Ooi lost the strawweight bout in the World Series of Fighting - Global Championship in Japan on Sunday.
Singaporean MMA exponent May Ooi lost the strawweight bout in the World Series of Fighting - Global Championship in Japan on Sunday. ST PHOTO: TAMARA CRAIU

She was punched in the temple and left with a sore head. Throw in a sore elbow and you can see why it was hardly the ideal start to the festive season for mixed martial arts exponent May Ooi.

But the former swimmer would not trade the experience gained from fighting Ukrainian Anna Bezhenar for anything in the world.

The Singaporean lost the strawweight bout in the World Series of Fighting - Global Championship at the Tokyo Dome City Hall in Japan on Sunday. But she still made a deep impression, taking the five-time European pankration champion the full distance, losing only by a decision at the end of the three scheduled rounds.

Bezhenar is also an International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (Fila) world champion in pankration, and a previous Fila athlete of the year. She is highly skilled in submissions, takedowns, chokes and locks as pankration is a form of martial arts that combines wrestling and boxing.

In her bout with Ooi, she tried to take out the Singaporean with three armbars but each time, Ooi managed to break free and even left the Ukrainian bloody after a flurry of punches in the final round.

Ooi, 39, who started competing only in 2014, said: "In accepting the fight with Anna, I had no illusions and I knew I was going in there as the underdog.

GETTING UNDER UKRAINIAN'S SKIN

She was expecting me to be a walk in the park but when she pulled off the three armbars and could not finish, she was left screaming and got really mad and frustrated and I don't think she expected that.

MAY OOI, local fighter, on her Tokyo Dome fight with Ukrainian Anna Bezhenar.

"She was expecting me to be a walk in the park but when she pulled off the three armbars and could not finish, she was left screaming and got really mad and frustrated and I don't think she expected that.

"So if I'm able to do that to a world champion, it puts me in a very good position and even though I didn't win, I think I made a very big statement and I'm happy with that."

Her coach Arnaud Lepont added: "With the level of the opponent May was up against and with her lack of experience in the cage, I think she did very well.

"To be able to last three rounds against someone like Anna who has lots of experience, it showed that she belonged in the top division and it was a big step up for her."

And while the loss may have left Ooi with a 2-1 (win-loss) record, the Olympian, who swam for Singapore at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, says that the fight was good preparation for the future and was essential in making her a better fighter.

"It's a learning experience, fighting against a top-notch fighter like Anna ... and if I'm going to fight at that level and even make it to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), which is the ultimate goal, the girls there are going to be tough as nails so I might as well get used to it and be prepared," said Ooi, who has never had a fight come down to a decision prior to Sunday.

"Also, when I fight, I like to finish my opponents off but I may not always be able to do that, especially at a high level, so I have to learn the game of scoring points."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'Point-scoring the new priority for Ooi after Tokyo loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe