Tiffany “No Chill” Teo ended 2018 as one of the leading strawweights in ONE Championship after the biggest win of her career.
After emerging from the contest with her hand raised, Teo was both delighted and a little relieved. It was the first time she had competed in 10 months, and a win was essential to stay in touch with the leading names in her division.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 9, 2018
The 28-year-old could not have had a much tougher test to get back on track. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt had to test herself against a black belt with eight world titles to her name.
The Brazilian was the most dangerous grappler she had ever faced in the cage.
“Going up against one of the most decorated BJJ champions in history like Nicolini, it was definitely a huge test for me,” Teo says.
“There was a lot of pressure on me to show people that I had improved since my previous loss.”
Things did not get off to the best of starts for “No Chill” as Nicolini took the contest into her world in the first round.
As the clock ticked down, Teo gave up mount and was caught in the tightest of armbars. Her opponent went belly-down and it seemed like the finish was inevitable, but Teo hung on to be saved by the bell.
“My arm was hurt. It was hyperextended, but I knew the round was ending and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to tap to that,’” she laughs.
“For my camp, we did a lot of submission defense, so if I end up in a bad position I knew how to recover. I went through a lot of escapes.”
“The whole camp was heavy on defending takedowns and escaping bad positions, so I’m a lot more comfortable escaping bad positions now.”
In the second round, the ball was in the Team Highlight Reel representative’s court, but she still found herself threatened by the grappling wizardry of Nicolini, who turned defense into attack from butterfly guard, despite a barrage of ground and pound coming her way.
However, it was not long before she started to fade and Teo took charge.
In the final frame, the Singaporean shrugged off takedown attempts to stay on her feet and fire away with punches and kicks. She was loose and sharp, and kept connecting with heavy shots that shook her rival.
“Towards the end of the second round, I would say I could tell she was gassing,” she explains.
“Her takedowns were getting slower. I knew she was tired. When she started pulling guard, I was like, ‘Yeah, she has no more energy left for the takedowns.’
“She was getting desperate – pulling guard and going for leg locks. To me, those are really bad positions for mixed martial arts. I know it’s different for jiu-jitsu, but you’re putting yourself in a really bad position.
“That’s when I knew she was tired and kind of desperate to bring the fight to the ground – even if she ended up in a bad position. I think that was the only way for her to win the fight – by submission.
“I was really comfortable and confident standing and striking with her.”
By the time the final bell came, Teo, her corner, and the roaring crowd inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium were sure she had done enough to win.
That proved to be the case, as all three judges scored the match in her favor.
Her eighth career win against just one loss put her on the track back towards the belt held by “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan. She may have to wait for that opportunity, but “No Chill” has proved she will not back down from any other challenge in the interim.