MMA: Historic title shot for Teo

S'porean earns chance for MMA world crown against China's Xiong in Jakarta next month

While Tiffany Teo is aware of the fight's significance, she says she is very confident and will give it her all.
While Tiffany Teo is aware of the fight's significance, she says she is very confident and will give it her all.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

December might be a time to indulge in festive goodies but not so for Tiffany Teo.

Instead, the 27-year-old mixed martial arts (MMA) exponent will be busy preparing for the fight of her life, against China's Xiong Jingnan for the vacant One Championship women's strawweight (52.3-56.7kg) belt next month.

Teo is the first Singaporean to get a title shot in One. She faces Xiong, 29, at the MMA promotion's 2018 season opener at the Jakarta Convention Centre on Jan 20.

Atomweight (47.7-52.2kg) world champion Angela Lee fights under the Singapore flag as her father Ken was born in the Republic and she has relatives here - but Lee is an American citizen.

Teo was promised a title fight if she could beat India's Pooja Tomar in One's event last month at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. She duly delivered, beating her opponent by submission to stretch her unblemished professional record to 7-0.

"I kind of like the fact that my next fight is quite close to my previous one, because I came off fresh from my last fight and did not get any injuries there," Teo, a psychology graduate, told The Straits Times yesterday. "I am still in shape, I just need to fine-tune some stuff and I am good to go."

She said she watched her Chinese opponent, who is nicknamed "The Panda" and has a 10-1 record, beat Filipina April Osenio in Bangkok last Saturday, and figured out a rough strategy for their clash.

One's chairman and chief executive officer Chatri Sityodtong had announced the Teo-Osenio clash on Tuesday. He also said that One's lightweight and featherweight champion Martin Nguyen will face bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes in Bangkok in March.

Chatri said yesterday: "Here is a girl (Teo) who started right here in Singapore, slowly improving each and every day. Muay thai has always been her primary strength but as we have seen early in her career so far, she has improved tremendously as a grappler.

"Xiong Jingnan is considered one of the top three female martial artists in China, and rightfully so. She is incredibly well-rounded and with such a knack for excitement.

"If her last bout was an indication of what is to come in her career, fans can expect another awesome performance in Jakarta."

Despite the significance of her next fight, Teo will be approaching this bout exactly like previous fights. She said: "I am very confident for this fight but it will be like any other fight, where I give 100 per cent. It is my way of honouring my opponent, who shares the cage with me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'Historic title shot for Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe