Despite that impressive showing, the #1 contender couldn’t get over the line to claim the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title. Now, she must beat Meng Bo at ONE: HEAVY HITTERS to stay within reach of the gold.
Teo knows she belongs among the elite, and a win in front of her hometown crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium next Friday, 14 January, would push her closer to one more shot at the top prize.
“In my last fight with ‘Panda,’ I thoroughly enjoyed the fight a lot even though I lost. I felt like I improved a lot as a fighter,” she says.
“I felt like it was a great performance. We both left it out there in the cage. Win or lose, I’m happy with my performance for that night.”
For her part, Meng is ranked #5 in the women’s atomweight division, but she is moving up to strawweight to face the two-time World Title challenger.
Even with that defeat, Meng has built a reputation as a lethal striker, but “No Chill” is not convinced her opponent is all that dangerous.
“I don’t really know if I’d call her tough. I’ve watched a few of her fights, and I’ve never really seen her weather through any storm,” Teo says.
“Ritu just dominated her for two full rounds and she had no answer for that, right? She couldn’t get back up from the ground. She was just dominated, ground-and-pounded for two full rounds even though she knocked Ritu down earlier in the round.
“I feel like a lot of the girls just gave her too much respect for her knockout power.”
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Not fazed by Meng’s reputation, Teo hopes to register another solid win in “The Lion City” – particularly because the event is headlined by Xiong’s sixth World Title defense.
The next challenger – submission specialist Ayaka “Zombie” Miura – lost to “No Chill” via TKO back in 2020. And given her familiarity with both athletes, Teo predicts the reigning queen will maintain her stranglehold on the division.
“You can see how it went with [Xiong’s last challenger] Michelle Nicolini. It’s a similar striker-versus-grappler matchup. Michelle had a hard time closing the distance with her strikes to set up the takedowns, and I feel that the same thing will happen with Ayaka,” Teo says.
“Her striking is not very good. She just relies on that one trick that she has to get into the head lock. And I feel like, if you know how to defend, even if you get into that position, she has nothing else other than that, from what I see from her past few fights.
“So, early prediction: I’m leaning towards ‘Panda.’ I’m guessing via TKO or KO.”
Though Teo has fallen short twice against Xiong, the clear improvements she made from one battle to the next were enough to keep her World Title dream alive.
She’s continued to push forward amid difficult circumstances, and when she watches the titleholder in action on 14 January, the Team Highlight Reel representative will be picturing her own future with the strap over her shoulder.
“When the pandemic hit, I had to get ready for a fight camp throughout the circuit breaker with all the gyms closed and social distancing restrictions,” Teo adds.
“It just made me realize how badly I wanted to fight and how badly I wanted to be in the cage despite all the odds against me.
“I guess it’s the environment that made me realize that I want to fight, and I know that I have what it takes to be a champion one day.”