SINGAPORE - Punches and kicks echoed louder, and trainers' instructions rang clearer at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday night (Feb 28), but what was most conspicuous at One Championship's King of the Jungle event was the absence of noise from the stands.
A week earlier, the Singapore-based mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation One decided to stage their live event in a closed-door setting because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The King of the Jungle event was broadcast live on various platforms, and full refunds were offered to those who had already purchased tickets.
One's events typically draw crowds of about 6,000 to the indoor arena, whose capacity is about 12,000.
Despite the lack of atmosphere in the arena, the athletes in action served up a treat.
Singaporean Tiffany Teo survived an early onslaught by Japanese judo specialist Ayaka Miura, before posting a technical knockout win in the dying moments of their three-round strawweight bout.
Teo will next vie for the strawweight title of Chinese champion Xiong Jingnan aka The Panda.
Teo, 29, told The Straits Times she hoped to challenge Xiong at One's next Singapore event, tentatively scheduled for July.
She said of the closed-door King of the Jungle event: "It was a very interesting experience.
"The nice thing about having fans is the energy they give you... but I felt without the crowd, I was calmer.
"But, of course, if it's a title fight (next), I would love to have the support of everyone."
Another local fighter, Amir Khan, however, suffered a first-round loss to Kimihiro Eto in their lightweight bout, succumbing to a rear-naked choke submission.
Filipina fighter Denice Zamboanga, meanwhile, scored a unanimous-decision win over Mei Yamaguchi - which also earned her a shot at Singaporean-Canadian fighter Angela Lee's atomweight title.
Ritu Phogat kept her dream of becoming India's first MMA world champion on track by securing a unanimous decision victory against Chinese Taipei's Wu Chiao-chen in their three-round atomweight contest.
In the main event of the evening, Thai fighter Stamp Fairtex lost her atomweight kickboxing title to American fighter Janet Todd via a split decision.
King of the Jungle is the second event by One to be affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Its April 11 in Chongqing, China, has been moved to April 10 in Jakarta.
The epidemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to over 50 countries with more than 83,000 cases worldwide and over 2,800 people killed.
In Singapore, there have been 98 confirmed cases, with 69 having recovered.