MMA: Tiffany Teo ready to roll with the punches

Mixed martial arts fighter Tiffany Teo (left) and Nurshahidah Roslie, Singapore's first female professional boxer, training ahead of their respective fights next month. Teo will take on Walaa Abbas at ONE: Defending Honor while Nurshahidah will face
Mixed martial arts fighter Tiffany Teo (left) and Nurshahidah Roslie, Singapore's first female professional boxer, training ahead of their respective fights next month. Teo will take on Walaa Abbas at ONE: Defending Honor while Nurshahidah will face Gentiane Lupi at SFC 4.ST PHOTO: DON CHI

Unbeaten S'pore MMA fighter knows her One C'ship debut will pose a big challenge

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Tiffany Teo will face her biggest test when she makes her One Championship debut on Nov 11.

The 26-year-old holds a perfect 3-0 win-loss record, with all of her fights ending in the first round.

But on the day she turns 27, she has to get used to more raucous surroundings inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium, where she will fight former Egyptian boxing champion Walaa Abbas, 32, in the flyweight division.

Teo, who was born in Brunei but raised in Singapore, said: "It's going to be different from my past few fights. Fighting in a One Championship event will be a big step up for me. This will be on a bigger stage and I have to cope with a higher level of stress and expectations, especially because I'm on a winning streak.

"To be honest, I didn't enter the past fights thinking that I will be able to win in the first round," she said of her experiences at Singapore Fighting Championship (SFC) 2, SFC 3 and Full Metal Dojo 11, which is held by Thailand's largest professional MMA promotion.

ONE STEP UP

Fighting in a One Championship event will be a big step up for me. This will be on a bigger stage and I have to cope with a higher level of stress and expectations, especially because I'm on a winning streak.

'' TIFFANY TEO , a mixed martial arts fighter who was raised in Singapore, on her One Championship debut.

"My coach always tells me to take my time, but it just happened that it always ended so quickly."

To prepare for her upcoming bout, she has been throwing jabs and uppercuts and hitting the mats at Juggernaut Fight Club, as she brushes up on striking and wrestling. She trains twice a day - in the morning and evening. In between the sessions, the therapist pulls off her fighting gloves, changes out of her sweaty gear, puts on her spectacles and visits the homes of children with special needs.

Her coach, Arvind Lalwani, 36, believes that his protege's talent has earned her a spot in the nine-bout fight card.

He said: "It will be a good test for her to see where she stands against the elite fighters.

"One (Championship) saw the potential in her and we believe that she has what it takes to become a world champion one day."

A day after Teo's fight, her training partner at Juggernaut, Singapore's first female professional boxer Nurshahidah Roslie, will also be putting her perfect 4-0 record on the line.

She will contest for the vacant World Boxing Association Oceania super featherweight belt when she takes on New Zealander Gentiane Lupi at SFC 4. Her Nov 12 fight will take place at the Singapore Foochow Association.

Lalwani, who also runs SFC, said: "She's already made a reputation for herself in South-east Asia, so it's hard to get good fights for her in this region. We have goals, we don't want to remain stagnant but we want her to grow."

Nurshahidah, 29, said: "It'll be a test for me because it'll be the first time I am up against a non-Asian boxer in my professional career.

"My goal is to make a legacy for female boxers in Singapore and show that Singaporeans can make it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Teo ready to roll with the punches'. Print Edition | Subscribe