Unbeaten Singaporean starlet Tiffany “No Chill” Teo is one win away from world championship glory.
The 7-0 strawweight’s next bout will see her step into the ONE Championship cage in the main event of ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE, which sees her compete for the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title.
The 20 January bout in Jakarta will see her take on fellow title challenger “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan from China (13-1) in a hotly-anticipated battle that could see her propelled to superstardom.
The 28-year-old has enjoyed a tremendous start to her martial arts career, with seven wins in as many bouts. Prior to her career in the cage taking off, she helped children as a psychologist.
Teo graduated from the University of Buffalo in 2013 with a BA in Psychology, then returned home to Singapore and took up a job as a research coordinator, specialising in children with special needs. It soon led to her working as a behavioural therapist for special needs kids.
“It was a natural transition from my previous job, because I was doing a lot of research on kids with special needs like autism and ADHD, so I was interested in that field,” she explained.
“When I was doing research, it was more pertaining to the different therapies that would help kids, so I wanted to see if they would work in real life. It looked good on paper, but I was just curious, so I decided to venture into that field to get a feel for what it was like. I am more of a hands-on person, and I wanted to deal with kids one-on-one.
“It was a really fulfilling job, especially seeing the progress when working with the kids.”
While she was working with children by day, by night she was working equally hard in the gym, sharpening her martial arts skills.
Her passion for martial arts began when she became hooked on Muay Thai reality television show “The Contender Asia” in 2008, and soon led her to join a gym and eventually venture into the ring.
Initially, she competed in Muay Thai, then boxing - where she won a Singapore boxing title - and BJJ, where she picked up multiple gold medals from tournaments in Asia.
Then came the opportunity of a lifetime, as she was offered the chance to compete inside the ONE Championship cage.
“I did not intend to pursue martial arts as a career, but I found myself finding ways to arrange my time around my training,” she said.
“That was when I decided that competing is something I wanted to commit myself to, and I just cannot help dreaming the same dream.”
Teo had to make the tough decision to put her career as a behavioural therapist on the back burner as she launched, full-throttle, into a full-time career as a martial arts athlete. It’s paid off, too, with Teo undefeated from her first seven contests as a pro, and now she is one of the two top-ranked challengers for the first-ever ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title.
Despite her change of career, Teo still harbours the desire to help children, and says she’d love to combine both passions in the years ahead.
“It is fun just being around kids and playing with them. It would be nice to guide them and be a part of their growing journey, to impart skills and values,” she mused.
“I feel all kids should learn martial arts like jiu-jitsu and wrestling. It is a good skill to have, and you can learn a lot of good values like discipline, so it is a good thing for kids to do martial arts at a young age.”
And who would make a better role model for young kids than the the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight Champion? Teo stands just one win away from making that dream a reality.