MMA: Teo happy to fight away from home

Coach Arvind Lalwani notes that despite Tiffany Teo's heavier workload, her attitude is good and her fighting spirit is strong ahead of the bout on Feb 10.
Coach Arvind Lalwani notes that despite Tiffany Teo's heavier workload, her attitude is good and her fighting spirit is strong ahead of the bout on Feb 10.ST FILE PHOTO

She was a 'nervous wreck' during win on One C'ship debut but will be more relaxed in KL

Tiffany Teo's next bout will take place in Kuala Lumpur, but the Singaporean mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter is far from being upset at not fighting on home ground.

In fact, the 27-year-old explained that, when she beat Egyptian Walaa Abbas on her One Championship debut at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last November, she had been a nervous wreck inside the cage.

She said: "I'm kind of glad that (the next fight is) in KL, so this time around, I'm going to be more relaxed going into the fight.

"When I looked back at my last fight, I realised that I was not my usual self then. I'm usually way more relaxed, but on that day, there was a lot of pressure and I felt more nervous.

"My emotions were hyped up by the crowd and atmosphere, because there were so many people whom I did not know who were supporting me."

Her coach at Juggernaut Fight Club, Arvind Lalwani, added: "I would like to see her more relaxed when she fights this time, being less tense and taking her time before finishing off her opponent."

Next month, it will be her opponent who will have to deal with first-time nerves.

Teo is taking on Indonesian fighter Priscilla Hertati, a 28-year-old national sanda champion in wushu who will be making her One Championship debut at the MMA promotion's Kuala Lumpur event on Feb 10.

Facing the southpaw will be a new challenge for her, due to her unfamiliarity with facing left-handed fighters, but she insists that she will not be allowing her opponent to use that to her advantage.

She noted: "My strategy will be different. I've been working on my footwork during training and I've got to fight to my left side.

"Usually, I would circle to the right side, but if I do that, I might be walking into her (more powerful) left hand."

In spite of all the preparation work she could do before the fight, she admitted that it will be hard to read her opponent's game ahead of the bout.

She noted that Hertati had shown contrasting fighting styles when she fought two of Teo's friends previously, one of them being her training partner and boxer Nurshahidah Roslie.

"She's like a wild card, I don't really know what to expect on that day because she might change her fighting style," Teo said.

Outside the ring, her workload in her job as a behavioural therapist is getting heavier. This year, she meets three more students, which adds between 10 and 15 hours in a week to her schedule.

Despite having to miss a few morning training sessions, the additional workload has not hindered her MMA ambitions.

Lalwani observed: "Of course after going through a day of work, she would be tired. But she's got a good mental attitude like a champion who bites the bullet. And she's got the heart of a champion.

"In fact, she comes in, she's working even harder than before, and I see that she's more intense and puts in more effort.

"I'm confident she can win the fight."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'Teo happy to fight away from home'. Print Edition | Subscribe