MMA: Tiffany Teo maintains unbeaten run at One Championship debut

Tiffany Teo (top) grappling with Egyptian Walaa Abbas during their One Championship: Defending Honour flyweight bout at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night. The Singaporean won after Abbas tapped out to a rear-naked choke at 4min 15sec in the sec
Tiffany Teo (top) grappling with Egyptian Walaa Abbas during their One Championship: Defending Honour flyweight bout at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night. The Singaporean won after Abbas tapped out to a rear-naked choke at 4min 15sec in the second round.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Despite being stretched by Egyptian Abbas, Teo wins on One Championship debut

She emerged from backstage and walked into the One Championship ring for the biggest fight of her mixed martial arts (MMA) career wearing her spectacles.

But her mission - to maintain her unbeaten record - was always in focus for Tiffany Teo.

Making her debut in the Singapore-based MMA promotion, Teo had an unforgettable 27th birthday as she extended her perfect professional record to four wins at One's Defending Honour event.

The former school choir member, who represents Juggernaut Fight Club, forced former Egyptian boxing champion Walaa Abbas to tap out to a rear-naked choke at 4min 15sec in the second round of their flyweight bout.

In front of a sold-out 12,000 crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the 1.65m-tall Teo had Abbas on the canvas for most of the bout but struggled to overcome her opponent as the contest stretched into unchartered territory for the Singaporean.

All three of Teo's previous wins had come in the first round. When the bout looked like it would drag on last night, she admitted that she began to worry.

But then the chants of "Tif-fa-ny, Tif-fa-ny" reached her ears. Buoyed by the crowd's vociferous support, she summoned her resolve and went after Abbas. It paid off.

With a beer in hand after the fight and her spectacles back on, Teo, a therapist for children with special needs, said: "It was a bigger stage.

"It was something that I'd never really felt before in my previous fights.

"I expected everything to end in the first round, and when it didn't, I think my expression changed because I was like, 'Oh no, this is going into the second round.'

"It made me worried because my muscles were like really tense. It was tougher than I expected.

"It's so cool that so many Singaporeans were cheering for me. This fight is going to be hard to forget, because it's my birthday too."

Teo's coach at Juggernaut, Arvind Lalwani, who was part of her entourage, said: "She showed the world that she can fight."

While Teo kept her unblemished record intact, fellow Singaporean Benedict Ang could not maintain his.

The 20-year-old, from Evolve MMA, suffered his first defeat in the ring when he lost the three-round featherweight bout to Ahmed Mujtaba of Pakistan via a unanimous decision.

Ang, whose face bore scratch marks after the fight, smiled despite the loss. He said: "I couldn't finish it with a win, and I should have put more pressure on him. But I'll take the loss like a man."

His Evolve team-mate Amir Khan beat Vaughn Donayre of the Philippines with a rear-naked choke in the second round of the lightweight bout.

In the main title fight of the night, Filipino Eduard Folayang dethroned Japan's Shinya Aoki to become the new One Championship lightweight champion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2016, with the headline 'Tiffany still unbeaten'. Print Edition | Subscribe