Ooi ready to make big splash in MMA

As A former national swimmer, May Ooi is used to the smell of chlorine.

But 13 years after she retired from the pool, the 37-year-old is discovering that there is now something else that drives her - the scent of blood.

Trading goggles for mouthguards, Ooi is now a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.

On Thursday, she signed a one-year contract with local MMA start-up organisation Rebel FC, which hosted its first show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last December.

Ooi won her first amateur fight on that bill, against Australian Amy Adam through a rear-naked choke in the third round. She hopes to be given at least two fights in the next year.

"The first time I hit someone, I was hooked," said the two-time Asian Games competitor (1990 and 1994) and Olympian (Barcelona, 1992).

"When you draw blood, it gets addictive. I guess I am now honing a killer instinct that has always been there in me. "Now, I can smell blood a mile away."

Ooi, who co-owns Brazilian Fight Club at Horse City, Bukit Timah, also had discussions with global organisation Ultimate Fighting Championship. But nothing materialised so she signed for Rebel FC instead.

She said: "I wanted to be in a small organisation where I can talk directly to people who make the decisions. This is good for someone starting out, like me."

Rebel FC president Justin Leong said he was delighted to have signed his first female fighter on professional terms.

"May is an excellent example of what an athlete is," said Leong.

"She is highly-disciplined.

"With her experience in the Olympics, the transition to becoming a pro fighter is ideal."

Ooi's interest in martial arts started five years ago as she picked up Capoeira, a Brazilian discipline which disguises its strikes through dance, while she earned a medicine degree at Prague's Charles University.

She said she was convinced to fight in MMA after a chance meeting last year with Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) exponent Royler Gracie whose family's style of BJJ is considered the best in the world.

The four-time world champion is also the master of Ooi's fiance and head coach of Brazilian Fight Club, Silvio da Silva, 35.

Like the medley swimmer she once was, she hopes to exhibit a variety of styles in the ring with her Capoeira, Muay Thai, and BJJ training.

She said: "I would like to inspire more girls to take up sports, even contact sports. For someone like me, who is 37 and going into MMA, I want to show that it can be done."

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