Singaporean female mixed martial artist Tiffany Teo is set to make her ONE Championship (ONE) promotional debut this November at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR, and the response has been ‘overwhelming’, she says.
Teo is but one of a mere handful of women in the country who have taken the professional path as a full-fledged prizefighter.
The 26-year-old is set to step inside the ONE cage for the first time on 11 November at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and will take on Egypt’s Walaa Abbas. The organization announced Teo’s assimilation into the roster only a couple of weeks ago, and Teo says she didn’t realize how massive the deal was until it became public.
“The big stage is definitely not something that I’m used to. My previous fights were on a smaller scale. Social media and media exposure weren’t that widespread,” Teo said. “Now it’s kind of overwhelming.”
Up until the day that news of her joining ONE Championship was announced, Teo was just a regular girl who not many people knew was a professional MMA fighter, despite having a 3-0 record to start her career at local promotion Singapore Fighting Championships (SFC).
If you would come across Teo on the street, her look is not that of a person who possesses a wide range of fighting techniques, capable of resolving physical conflict with her bare fists. By all accounts, Teo appears just like every other mild-mannered 20-something walking about this city.
But dig deeper beneath the surface and you have the makings of a bonafide martial arts star. This, ‘building local martial arts heroes’, is ONE’s primary goal in bringing the sport of MMA into every household in Asia.
Teo for one says she is shocked at the amount of people who have come up to her since the announcement.
“Every time I open my Facebook, there will be like 40-50 new notifications. I get friend requests from people I don’t even know. Now I have a Facebook page with random people commenting,” Teo said.
“It’s something that I’m still trying to adapt to and get used to, but I would say I’m coping well so far. And I think that it’s really great that this event is in Singapore. I have fellow Singaporeans and my friends and family to support me. I’m very excited for that.”
By the time she makes her walk out of the fighters holding area down to the ONE cage, Teo says she isn’t too sure of how she will react to the cheers of her hometown crowd, but that she truly is proud to be able to receive this opportunity.
“Finally walking out to the cage will be overwhelming for sure, and it’s a really big event. I’m not too sure how I will react but I guess I will be overwhelmed but I’ll try to keep myself calm and focus on the fight,” Teo said.
“I’m really excited to represent Singapore under ONE Championship. I am honored.”
Two years from now, Teo could end up being Singapore’s biggest female star. Or maybe she’ll stay that ordinary girl next door. Either way, it’s up to Teo to decide which path she will traverse.
ONE Championship has been instrumental in putting Teo in the position to choose her own destiny, and in a complex Asian market where MMA is still growing steadily by the day, that’s all you can really ask for.
“If you can make it to the event, I hope you will all be there to support me. It will be my ONE Championship debut, so it would be nice to have fan support, people who will cheer for me,” Teo said, inviting local fans in Singapore to the event.
“The cool thing is, this will be the first time my family will watch me fight live. In all my past fights, I told them not to come. I felt like it was added pressure, but this one is a big event and I can’t see them in there anyway because the arena is so big! So I said, ‘Just come.’”