May Ooi: Former Singapore Olympian Swimmer Turned MMA Star ‘On Radar’ Of UFC

Jan Omega

Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC) is internationally recognized as the premier mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the world. It has the most expensive venues and almost all of the exposure for cross-over appeal. Also, UFC has the biggest stars such as Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Paige VanZant, and Ronda Rousey.

In relevance to the latter, just because UFC has the biggest MMA stars today, they are constantly looking for those to take their place in the future. That is why UFC is always scouting for new talent, putting potential stars “on radar” per se for their abilities, fan appeal, or draw power. This is why UFC signed on Sage Northcutt and CM Punk. Now there is another fighter said to be “on radar” with UFC too and she is May Ooi, a Singaporean Olympian turned MMA star.

Originally, May Ooi was a swimmer who competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona, Spain. According to SR/Olympic Sports, Ooi had a lot on her plate competing in seven events including the women’s freestyle race for 50, 200, and 400 meters, women’s butterfly race for 100 and 200 meters, and the women’s individual medley for 200 and 400 meters. Though her endeavor was admirable, Ooi won no medals.

May Ooi in Walkway
May Ooi at her debut fight in MMA, an amateur bout against Amy Adam.

Jump forward more than 20 years, people will find May Ooi has taken a different direction pertaining to her athletic endeavors. According to Channel News Asia, Ooi – who is also known as “Mighty May” – is now an MMA fighter with her first amateur fight happening on December 21, 2013 against Amy Adam at Rebel FC 1: Into the Lion’s Den. She won via submission with a rear-naked choke in the third round. After that fight, Ooi would go pro almost one year later against Sharmah Deviah at Rebel FC 2: Battle Royale on August 1, 2014 followed-up with another fight against Zhen Wei Foo at MIMMA — Malaysian Invasion: Mixed Martial A’rr on June 1, 2015. Ooi won both of those fights too.

Apparently, May Ooi’s performance has gotten the attention of UFC as she is now, as mentioned earlier, “on radar” with them. Ooi is aware of it too and believes she is close to signing on with them.

“The UFC is an option. I’m on their radar and they are aware of me. I’m one to two fights away from signing for the UFC.”

If May Ooi does in fact get signed on to them, she will be the first Singaporean female to compete with them and the second Singaporean overall. Royston Wee is actually the first Singaporean to fight in UFC when he signed on back in 2013. Wee accumulated a 2-1-0 record in UFC (his full record is 4-1-0) before being released from the promotion on September 2, 2015.

To be frank, it is understandable why UFC would be interesting in May Ooi given her performance in MMA thus far. According to Asia One, Ooi explained just how ruthless she can be in the cage as she almost broke a contestant’s arm with an armbar while wearing boxing gloves. In all fairness, an armbar applied in a way to break someone’s arm is nothing new in MMA, but the fact Ooi only had a month of training prior to the fight is what makes this particular situation amazing. Ooi even verified such during an interview with The Fight Scene, in which and audio video is attached below.

It should be known that UFC technically did not state anything on May Ooi being”on radar” because they “do not comment on fighters not on its active roster.” Yet many prominent figures in the Asian MMA scene are putting in their two cents in which inquires UFC does in fact have Ooi “on radar,” including chief executive of Rebel FC, Justin Leong.

“It’s good that May is grabbing the attention of the UFC. It’s a sign of the growth of women’s MMA in Asia.”

And just in case UFC doesn’t bite for May Ooi, other promotions may do so. Jason Lilly, the vice-president of operations of World Series of Fighting (WSOF) Global Championships attests to this.

“I’ve been following May for the past year and see that she takes her training seriously, just like she did with swimming. It would be an honor to help her reach her full potential as a fighter as well.”

Though UFC is a potential promotion for May Ooi to work for, her coach Arnaud Lepont is not sitting around for her big break. If negotiations go smoothly for Lepont, Ooi may be competing for well-known Japanese MMA promotions such as Jewels or Pancrase.

[Images via May Ooi’s Facebook]