Undefeated 27-year-old Tiffany Teo of Singapore made her ONE Championship debut last November, winning her fourth professional MMA bout by scoring her second submission victory. It was a performance that Teo believes set her career on a path with unlimited potential.
Nicknamed the “Soul Crusher”, Teo trains under the watchful eye of veteran coach Arwind Lalwani of Juggernaut Fight Club, and while she says she has had trouble in dealing with nerves before a big fight, she now has a better grip on things, and will look to show fans just how much she has improved in her second appearance inside the ONE Championship cage.
This Friday evening, 10 February, at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Teo fights in Malaysia for the first time on the undercard of ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS. She is scheduled to face off at the center of the cage against Jakarta, Indonesia’s Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol, a kickboxer making her professional MMA debut.
In her next bout, Teo believes there are four things she needs to do to claim victory inside the ONE Championship cage.
#1 Get Over the Nerves
In her ONE Championship debut, the spotlight was firmly on Teo, who was at the time the newest addition to Singapore’s female fighter roster. The only other active female representing the country is of course ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee. Teo would join Lee on a very short list, so as expected, there was a lot of pressure on her young shoulders.
Not only that, but Teo also celebrated her birthday on Fight Night, which added a nice personal touch to the event. Although she already had professional fight experience on her resume, Teo reveals she just wasn’t prepared to handle the magnitude of it all at the time.
“It was my first time fighting in front of a crowd of that scale. I didn’t know what to expect and the nerves kind of got to me. I wasn’t as relaxed as I usually am for my past fights. Even though I got the victory, I felt like there were a lot of things I had to work on post-fight,” said Teo.
One thing Teo says will be different in her next fight is that she will have more control over her mental state entering the bout against Gaol, which will certainly help towards achieving a more fluid performance.
“I’m sure that it will be better this time around. After the first fight at ONE Championship, I know now what to expect and I’m sure I’ll cope with the nerves better this time,” said Teo. “I’m thrilled that I won my ONE debut on my birthday. It was the best birthday present I’ve given to myself.”
#2 Focus on Her Own Strengths, Know Her Opponent’s Weaknesses
A mark of a good fighter is their ability to craft an effective game plan heading into a bout. With the aid of coach Lalwani, Teo is able to masterfully center her training to approach her fights.
Even though Teo says she was happy to win her ONE debut, there was a lot of room for growth and areas of opportunity.
“While I remembered being happy that I won, at the same time, I felt that I could have performed better and finished the fight sooner,” said Teo.
This time, Teo says she can execute her game plan better. In fact, they have already studied Gaol, and have carefully developed a strategy heading into the fight. But regardless of how they plan to attack her opponent, or where the fight will lead, Teo says she has all bases covered, and can adapt to any situation.
“I have two friends who fought with [Gaol] in boxing and Muay Thai. There is no doubt about her striking skills. And I’ve heard she is a national sanda athlete too,” said Teo. “So I guess she knows her takedowns. If the fight goes to the ground, I’m confident that I’ll submit her.”
#3 Cover All Aspects of the Fight Game
The next step, Teo says, is of course making sure she possesses all the skills necessary to claim victory. This is MMA after all, and covering all aspects of the fight game is part of being ready for battle.
At her best, Teo is a devastating and energetic striker, drawing upon her vast experience in Muay Thai and boxing over the years competing in amateur competitions. She is also very well-rounded on the mat, and has the ability to subdue foes with a robust grappling game.
Testament to this are her two submission wins as a professional, including a second-round submission via rear-naked choke she earned in her most recent fight.
“I have an edge with my skill set. I know that I am the better fighter. I am well-rounded, I can strike, I can wrestle, and I can grapple,” said Teo. She may be a good striker. But this, after all, is an MMA fight. You have to be well-versed in all aspects.”
It appears Teo has been given a boost of confidence with her first victory inside the ONE Championship cage. And she is certainly going in the right direction. If Teo can continue improving her skills after each fight, the ceiling is certainly high for the young prospect.
“I’ve been working on my flaws and weaknesses from my last fight. I am confident of winning. It is [Gaol’s] pro MMA debut and I have no idea how she is going to fight,” said Teo. “But I’m ready to strike with her and I’m confident of submitting her if the fight goes to the ground. I’ll let the fight unfold and react accordingly.”
#4 Learn From Every Experience
You hear fighters often harp about learning the lessons with each victory or each loss. But Teo takes this philosophy beyond that and extends it to the out-of-cage experience. She believes the entire process of a prizefight is important, because it plays such a huge factor on the mental state of a fighter.
“Every fight is important to me,” said Teo. “One thing I’ve learned is, there is never a fight too small. Every fight is an opportunity to go through the motions of the whole mental and physical preparations.”
Oftentimes a lot of fighters tend to focus on just the fighting aspect of professional MMA. While this is of course very important, Teo recognizes the equal importance of rumblings outside the cage. The fight is just three, five-minute rounds. The rest of the work takes place behind the scenes, from the weight cut, the build-up, and the promotion, to the craziness fight week.
“My previous fights allowed me to discover what worked and what did not work,” said Teo, showing incredible wisdom at a young age.
“It is difficult to work towards an open road. I have to admit these earlier fights allowed me to refine my strategies, because sparring in the gym will always be different than being in a ring under the watchful eyes of the public.”