Ooi eyes ONE's strawweight crown
Singapore's MMA fighter believes she's ready for a title bout
Fresh from her ONE Championship debut win in Kuala Lumpur last month, mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter May Ooi had another reason to celebrate last weekend when she became the Asian Champion in the Master 1 division's blue belt category at the Asian IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Tokyo.
Next on her radar is the vacant ONE Championship strawweight title.
The New Paper understands that Ooi has not been offered a fight yet at the upcoming ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Nov 24, which features MMA golden girl Angela Lee and return title challenger Mei Yamaguchi as the main event.
American Ben Askren will take on Shinya Aoki in the co-main event.
The 41-year-old Ooi believes that her performance against Malaysia's top strawweight fighter Ann Osman at the Stadium Negara in KL last month proved that she is ready for a title bout.
"A first-round finish in three minutes, and the fact I silenced a stadium to pin-drop silence, makes a statement. It speaks volumes," Ooi told The New Paper.
"A lot of people want to watch me fight. I have a strong following here and I can draw in a crowd.
"People have been asking and assuming that I am already on the November fight card.
"But I am absolutely looking for a fight in front of my home crowd.
I am absolutely looking for a fight in front of my home crowd. The strawweight title is vacant, and the division is open. I am looking at the crown. Mixed martial arts fighter May Ooi (left) hopes to be offered a fight at the ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit event on Nov 24
"Signing an exclusive contract with ONE Championship means you aim, and aim high.
"The strawweight title is vacant, and the division is open.
"I am looking at the crown."
Ooi still has fond memories of her fight against Osman at the ONE Championship: Quest for Greatness event last month.
Standing right in the middle of enemy territory, the partisan crowd was baying for Singaporean blood. But Ooi clearly had not read the script.
Merely 3 minutes and 27 seconds into the first round, the former Singapore national swimmer and Olympian ended the contest in spectacular fashion - a rear-naked choke submission.
"It was a huge fight considering the circumstances," recalled Ooi.
"It was a Singaporean fighting a Malaysian in her backyard on the eve of the SEA Games.
"It was my first fight in a year, and it was on the biggest MMA stage in Asia.
"If you had to stack them up, the odds were against me."
Indeed, Ooi was the clear underdog.
On top of home ground advantage, Ann was far more experienced - having picked up five wins in eight fights in the ONE Championship.
Ooi had still yet to come to terms with the loss of her fiance Silvio Romero da Silva, who died at the age of 38 in a motorbike accident in Bali last December.
"Dealing with Silvio's loss was devastating and I am still dealing with it," said Ooi.
"He built the foundations of my martial arts journey, be it grappling, striking, or Capoeira.
"Not having him around was really hard, but somehow I knew he was there in the stadium that night."