MMA: Swimmer-turned-MMA fighter May Ooi wins on One Championship debut in KL

Singaporean May Ooi beat Ann Osman of Malaysia at her One Championship debut in the Stadium Negara in in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 18, 2017.
Singaporean May Ooi beat Ann Osman of Malaysia at her One Championship debut in the Stadium Negara in in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 18, 2017.PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

SINGAPORE - She is no longer a member of Team Singapore, nor is she in Kuala Lumpur for the SEA Games.

But mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter May Ooi entered the cauldron that is the Stadium Negara last night and flew the Republic's flag high.

Making her One Championship debut, the Singaporean beat none other than hometown favourite Ann Osman at the promotion's Quest for Greatness event.

Ooi, who at 41 is 10 years older than Osman, forced the Malaysian to tap out to a rear-naked choke after just 3min 27sec in the first round of the strawweight bout, the biggest victory of her five-fight MMA career.

She said: "It took a while for it to register. It ended so quickly."

Tears then followed because she fulfilled something her former fiance Silvio Romero da Silva had wanted her to accomplish.

Da Silva died at age 38 in a motorbike accident in Bali last December.

Eight years ago, the Brazilian coach had introduced her to martial arts through capoeira, a Brazilian discipline which mixes striking with music and dance.

Ooi said: "The win was for him, and it's the way he would have wanted me to win, with a choke or a submission."

She had been all business and focused the moment she walked out for her fight.

Ooi, a former national swimmer who competed at the Olympic Games in 1992, said: "I was pretty calm. There was a wow factor when I stepped out there because Stadium Negara has a history of making people cower.

"And I was fighting against the hometown favourite, so even though they were cheering for Ann, I soaked in the energy around the whole place, and I just had to channel it towards myself.

"She came on strong and fast and furious towards me, she had a lucky strike which knocked me down on the floor but I could recover quickly after that.

"She pinned me onto the cage, (but) then I managed to take her down and locked in the choke tightly.

"All the training I had done to prepare myself for the fight just kicked in automatically."

"I'm sorry Ann had to lose in her home town."

For Ooi, it was a sweet return to KL, where she won two bronze medals in swimming on her first SEA Games appearance in 1989.

Good thing her quest for greatness did not end there.