SINGAPORE - Every professional fighter goes into the arena with the desire to win, but mixed martial arts exponent Tiffany Teo will have added motivation against India's Puja Tomar at the One Championship's Immortal Pursuit event on Friday (Nov 24).
A win at the Singapore Indoor Stadium will improve the 27-year-old Singaporean's professional record to seven wins and no losses or draws, and earn her a shot at the vacant One Championship women's strawweight title.
One's chairman Chatri Sityodtong said: "If Tiffany wins this fight, she will be guaranteed a title shot because (the belt is) currently vacant.
"She is a very well-rounded martial artist and she has that X-factor: the real killer instinct, that hunger and that desire to win."
Teo could become the first Singaporean to earn a title bout in the Asia-focused One Championship. American atomweight world champion Angela Lee fights under the Singapore flag because her father Ken was born in Singapore.
Teo said: "I have always eyed the title and I am excited this is finally going to happen if I win this fight."
The psychology graduate, a former school choir member, is bespectacled and soft-spoken but, inside the ring and in the gym, she is a totally different person.
"I feel really alive when I am in the cage, I like the adrenalin rush... the gym where I train, sometimes the guys would say the way I train is 'no chill'; I just go on non-stop."
She added that she has improved significantly after switching gyms, following her victory over American Rebecca Heintzman on home ground in May. She currently trains with One fighters such as Major Overall at Team Highlight Reel, spars with the national wrestling team and occasionally cross-trains at Impact MMA.
Teo said: "I am very confident (of maintaining my undefeated record). This fight camp has been one of the best I had, I managed to work on different aspects of my repertoire and had full-on strength training.
"My last two fights went down to decision, although I've always said I wanted a knockout. I am hoping for a knockout this time."
Her fellow Singaporean, Amir Khan, will also move a step closer to a shot at the lightweight title if he beats Australian Adrian Pang in the co-main event on Friday.
Chatri said: "I would say Amir is two or three fights away from a title shot; he needs to fight the elite fighters of his weight division and Adrian is one of them.
"I see (Amir) in training and he is a beast; he is definitely up there in terms of skills, but it's one thing to to perform well in the gym and another to do it under the bright lights and pressure of a co-main event."
The 23-year-old Amir, an instructor at Evolve MMA gym after completing his NS, said it is a "good feeling" to know how close he is to a title bout, but stressed that he was focused on Friday's fight.
He said: "Right now, I am just focused on my next fight, which is Adrian Pang. Once I get past him, I will think about the title.
"But whether it's a title shot, or a preliminary bout, I treat my fights all the same and I train equally hard for each fight.
"I don't motivate myself just because it's a title fight; I fight because I want to be the best I can in the cage."