Ooi locks in her win in a jiffy

May Ooi holds up the Singapore flag after beating home favourite Ann Osman at One Championship's Quest for Greatness event at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.
May Ooi holds up the Singapore flag after beating home favourite Ann Osman at One Championship's Quest for Greatness event at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

S'porean forces victory in first round on One C'ship debut, dedicates success to late fiance

She is no longer a member of Team Singapore, nor is she in Kuala Lumpur for the SEA Games.

But mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter May Ooi entered the cauldron that is the Stadium Negara last night and flew the Republic's flag high.

Making her One Championship debut, the Singaporean beat none other than home favourite Ann Osman at the promotion's Quest for Greatness event.

Ooi, who at 41 is 10 years older than Osman, forced the Malaysian to tap out to a rear-naked choke after just 3min 27sec in the first round of their strawweight bout.

It was the biggest victory of her five-fight MMA career.

She said: "It took a while for it to register. It ended so quickly."

Tears then followed because she fulfilled something her former fiance Silvio Romero da Silva had wanted her to accomplish. But he died aged 38 in a motorbike accident in Bali last December.

Eight years ago, the Brazilian coach had introduced her to martial arts through capoeira, a Brazilian discipline which mixes strikes amid music and dance.

Ooi said: "The win was for him, and it's the way he would have wanted me to win, with a choke or a submission."

She had been all business the moment she walked out for her fight. The former national swimmer, who competed at the Olympic Games in 1992, said: "I was pretty calm.

"There was a wow factor when I stepped out there because Stadium Negara has a history of making people cower.

"And I was fighting against the hometown favourite, so even though they were cheering for Ann, I soaked in the energy around the whole place, and I just had to channel it towards myself.

"She came on strong and fast and furious towards me. She had a lucky strike which knocked me down on the floor but I could recover quickly after that.

"She pinned me onto the cage, then I managed to take her down and locked in the choke tightly.

"All the training I had done to prepare myself for the fight just kicked in automatically.

"I'm sorry Ann had to lose in her home town."

For Ooi, it was a sweet return to KL, where she won two swimming bronze medals on her SEA Games debut in 1989.

Good thing her quest for greatness did not end there.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Ooi locks in her win in a jiffy'. Print Edition | Subscribe