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Singaporean swimming sensation returns to Japan to represent her country in the cage

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Olympic swimmer turned Pro MMA fighter May Ooi(2-0) is returning to Japan this weekend to compete in a totally different sport which she competed in the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima. The 1990 Singapore Sportsgirl of the year was touted as one of the prospects with the ability to reach the elite level within the South East Asian region and was included in the 1994 Asian Games swimming team after a sparkling performance in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Singapore swimming queens, May Ooi with Joscelin Yeo

Singapore swimming queens, May Ooi with Joscelin Yeo

“I remember Japan being extremely clean, efficient and everything worked seamlessly.” May recounts her experience competing in Hiroshima in 1994. “It was like being in a sci-fi movie. The Japanese people left a deep impression too. They had impeccable manners… so polite and thoughtful. I had an amazing time competing and meeting new friends. I mean…when you are a teenager far from home with no parental supervision and surrounded by athletes…it’s shenanigans at its finest.”

May is no stranger in breaking records during her swimming tenure and will be continuing to break records in MMA. She will be the first Singaporean MMA fighter to compete in the most famous arena in Japan, the Tokyo Dome this weekend on World Series of Fighting – Global Championship. The arena has hosted numerous prestigious MMA events which included many legends and pioneers of the sport.

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“I’m feeling great!,” May said. “It took a while for the whole thing to sink in…Tokyo Dome, Japan, PRIDE, Gracies, Sakuraba, Fedor, Megumi etc… And was a little star struck. I realized what a privilege it is for me to have this opportunity. Fighting in a cage is a privilege, not an entitlement. Feeling super proud to be the first Singaporean to fight in Japan”

The 39 year old first stepped into the MMA arena as an amateur in 2013 with a submission victory and then followed up with two back to back TKO victories in 2014 and 2015. She is currently undefeated in MMA and this fight will mark her 115lbs(52.1kg) Strawweight debut in WSOF GC. She will be facing Ukranian Pankration World Champion, Anna Bezhenar(1-1).

“I’ve been expecting an opponent of this calibre to show up. It’s a level up.” May explained.

World Pankration champion Anna Bezhenar

World Pankration champion Anna Bezhenar

“Anna is my measuring stick. She has all the right titles. The pressure is on her. Besides, if I want to fight in the big leagues, I need to fight credible opponents. The girls I will be fighting are going to be of this calibre or better. I should just get used to it.”

May will be leaving for Japan on the 4th of February and will have to miss celebrating Chinese New Year with her family this weekend. On top of that, she is on a strict diet to make 52kg for her fight and had to restraint herself from eating New Year delicacies until her fight is over.

“I walked in to mom’s house last week and there were endless trays of pineapple tarts. It was torture!” She confessed.” I could not eat any. It’s my favourite holiday of the year. The way I see it, I’m just postponing Chinese New Year celebrations. Will catch my immediate and extended family on the 9th where hopefully everyone will be celebrating my win. I’ve been competing as an elite athlete my whole life and being away from family during important holidays is a norm. Everyone is used to it. Reunion dinner will be spent cheering me on in front of a big screen.”

May Ooi will face Anna Bezhenar on WSOF-GC 2 on the 7th of February at the Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan. You can also watch the fight on wsofgc.com.

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Highest Ranked Strawweight Outside of the UFC challenged Angela Lee to a title fight in One Championship

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28 Years Old, Zhang Weili(16-1) from China has challenged Strawweight champion Angela Lee for her strap in One Championship according to a source close to the Chinese fighter. Zhang who is the champion and fighting for Chinese based promotion Kunlun FC is currently negotiating on a one fight deal to face Angela. According to the source, they would like to determine who is the best women fighter in Asia in a one-off match and would have no problems to fight under the One Championship banner.

Zhang Weili(Left) at Kunlun FC 12

Since her pro debut loss in 2013, Zhang has racked up 16 wins in 3 years with a total of 15 finishes. She is the number #6 ranked women strawweight in the World according to Fightmatrix.com, just behind Rose Namajunas who will be facing UFC champion and number #1 ranked strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title next month. Angela, on the other hand, is 9 rungs below Zhang at number 15.

Fightmatrix rankings as per 9/10/2017

While ONE was very eager to have a cross-promotion fight between Angela Lee and Joanna Jedrzejczyk to determine who has the better strawweight, they seem less eager to have a Kunlun FC champion on board for a one fight deal. The source states that ONE would need for Zhang to sign a 2-year exclusive contract first before discussing further for a fight with Angela.

If the source is accurate, ONE seems to be covering their bases this time and would not like for their champion to lose the belt to another promotion without securing Zhang on an exclusive contract. Kunlun, on the other hand, would also not want to lose their best fighter to another Asian promotion. Zhang would be a huge asset to ONE for their expansion in China but it would be tough for them to pry off the Chinese fighter as the source states that Zhang is being paid handsomely on Kunlun FC.

While things are looking bleak for a match between Angela Lee and Zhang Weili to happen in the ONE Championship cage, the fans will be keeping their fingers crossed and hope that they could witness a fight between two of the best women Strawweights in Asia.

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Martin Nguyen to challenge Eduard Folayang’s title in Manila for the first champion vs champion fight in ONE Championship

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After speculations on who Martin Nguyen’s next opponent when he signed a fight contract, ONE Championship have confirmed that Martin Nguyen is set to challenge Eduard Folayang’s lightweight title in Manila on ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD on 10 November.

The fight is the latest in a series of cross-division fights announced after Shinya Aoki vs Ben Askren and Aung La NSang vs Alain Ngalani, but this will be the first time the reigning ONE Championship titleholders from two weight divisions will clash.

Nguyen’s coach, Fari Salievski, did tease on the idea of Nguyen fighting for the title in different weight divisions , but he teased on a bantamweight division since Martin was underweight for his featherweight title fight against Marat Gafurov.

Despite being on the lighter side of a featherweight division, the new champion decided to challenge the title against a fighter a weight class above him, and opens the possibility of the first fighter in ONE Championship to challenge the title in 3 weight divisions.

“I’m not out only to make a statement, but to go down in history as the best to ever compete under the ONE Championship banner” – Martin Nguyen

ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD will be held in Malls of Asia Arena in Manila on 10 November 2017

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Bashir Ahmad embraces new role in ONE Championship

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Bashir Ahmad is appointed as the Senior Manager of Industry Partnerships, the role made to develop and strengthen the relationships between ONE Championship and various MMA gyms and promotions.

“EssentiallyI see myself doing what I did in Pakistan and working to accelerate the growth of MMA in Asia with other players in the MMA scene,” Ahmad explained.

As the pioneer of Pakistani MMA, Bashir Ahmad has worked to promote MMA in Pakistan, most notably the Shaheen Gym project, a non-profit gym which serves to take at-risk youth off the street with the appeal and focus of MMA. With his new position in ONE, Ahmad believes he will be better positioned to develop MMA in Asia, particularly in his hometown Pakistan.

“I think it’s a win-win. I’ve learned about developing MMA in a really difficult market – Pakistan, and I bring that experience with me.”

“On the flip side, I get work with one of the world’s most professional martial arts brands and bring those lessons to my mission in Pakistan.”

4-3 on his professional MMA career, Ahmad has been fighting for ONE Championship since April 2013 and became the first ONE Championship athlete to make the transition from into the management role in the promotion. Despite this additional role, Ahmad is adamant that his new role in ONE Championship does not take him away from active competition.

“100% not retired. I can certainly train. If Martin can beat Gafurov while being a full-time mechanic, I can certainly train when I work in the MMA industry for a living. It’s about time management and training smart.”

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