Tiffany Teo proved just why she is the top-ranked women's strawweight (Under-57kg) contender after a dominant victory over China's Meng Bo in the One: Heavy Hitters event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday.
At mixed martial arts outfit One Championship's season-opener, Teo, 32, claimed victory after she submitted Meng in the second round with a rear naked choke.
It was Teo's first fight in more than a year after she failed in her second bid for the One Championship women's strawweight world title. Then, she lost to Chinese fighter Xiong Jingnan at One's Inside The Matrix event in October 2020. It was their second title fight as Xiong won the first in January 2018 via a technical knockout in the fourth round.
Teo will now hope to get a third shot at Xiong, who retained the world title after beating Ayaka Miura of Japan last night. The contest went to the fifth round before Xiong was declared the winner by unanimous decision.
In yesterday's bout against Teo, after an early exchange of hits between the pair, Meng's right-legged kick four minutes into the first round of the bout sent Teo to the floor. The Singaporean, however, recovered quickly and dominated the second round before eventually forcing her opponent to concede defeat.
Teo, who now has seven wins and two losses in nine bouts, said: "It feels great to be back in the circle. It's been a crazy year away and I'm glad to be back."
When asked if she will now set her sights on a third bid for the strawweight world title, she replied: "I'm open to that. But I am also open to fighting in other weight classes. Here's a shout-out to everyone in atomweight, strawweight and flyweight, I'm coming for all of you.
"I want to stay more active this year and fight as many times as I can. So, let's go ladies."
One of the more anticipated sightings of the evening had been set to be the appearance of MMA legend Khabib Nurmagomedov. But just hours before the show, organisers announced that the retired superstar could miss the show due to "Covid-19 health and safety protocols".
He was later confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.
Nurmagomedov was to have been in Saygid Izagakhmaev's corner for the Russian's One debut against American James Nakashima in a lightweight bout.
Izagakhmaev won his bout after he submitted his opponent via a deep arm-triangle choke in the second round.
On Nurmagomedov's absence, a One spokesman said the live show had "experienced several changes due to Covid-19 health and safety protocols" and added: "Multiple parties were impacted and unable to attend the event."
Some fans were visibly disappointed when told of the no-show.
Mohamaed Afraaz, a 22-year-old student, was not aware of the news when he was asked. He told The Straits Times that he had purchased tickets to the event only after learning of Nurmagomedov's appearance.
He said: "That's really disappointing. I am sure most are here to see him. But I guess we'll have to make do with watching how his protege performs."
Others like Shah Rezan , 26, an assistant manager at a gym, said he was happy to witness live entertainment.
A maximum of 1,000 people are currently allowed to attend live performances, MICE and sporting events if all attendees are vaccinated. Among the safe management measures in place for yesterday's event were a requirement for patrons to check in to SafeEntry, have their masks on at all times, and to refrain from mingling with others. There was also safe distancing in the seating arrangements.
Said Shah: "During these times, there aren't many concerts or shows to watch live so while it is unfortunate that (Khabib) isn't here, we still get to watch some great live fights."