Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman
The New Paper
Monday, May 11, 2015
Singapore-based Malaysian freelance model Mel Tan is mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation One Championship's latest ring girl. And it has inspired the 30-year-old to want to try out MMA for herself. Fortunately for the fitness buff, help is not that far away.
Tan's Singapore-based Californian boyfriend of eight months, Mr Heath Sims, 43, is an instructor at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts gym and head coach of Evolve Fight Team, which will compete in the One Championship, touted as Asia's largest mixed martial arts event.
Tan and Mr Sims met when she was competing in the FHM Girl Next Door 2013 competition, in which she was a finalist. They became close last year after the One Championship: Rise of the Kingdomevent in Cambodia, where she made her ring girl debut.
She started muay thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes three months ago.
Tan has the former US Olympic wrestler and six-time US national champion to thank for starting her on a fitness streak. Tan, who had signed up for pole-dancing in 2012, told TNP last week that their common love for sports and healthy living brought them together.
"On our first date, he didn't treat me to a movie or dinner. Instead, he brought me to the gym and introduced me to the various fitness classes. It was something different, which was a good change," said Tan, who will be making her second appearance as a ring girl at One Championship: Warrior's Questat the Singapore Indoor Stadium next week.
Previous men she had dated failed to sweep her off her feet, due to conventional movie and dinner dates. Now, quality time with Mr Sims involves exercising together and plenty of healthy meals.
"He brings me vegetable juice sometimes and we have clean meals together, maybe fish or salad. I like that we are both on a healthy journey together. It's a very healthy relationship because we are both such positive people," said Tan, who has been in three serious relationships before Mr Sims. She has not started her MMA training and fighting professionally is not on the cards.
"Most fighters start so young so it never crossed my mind. I'm content just finding out more and trying it out in my own time."
She added: "I like being a ring girl because it exposes me to the sport. I haven't had any weird encounters yet with men. As for Heath, he is not the type to get jealous easily."
Mr Sims told TNP that he "knew she would have fun" on their seemingly unconventional first date because she's "very into sports and this is something different". And if Tan wanted to fight professionally, she would have his full support, he said.
"She's a great athlete and she has the ability to do it if she wants," said Mr Sims, who has dated models previously and described Tan as "down-to-earth, non-egotistical and friendly". He is also not insecure about the male attention she receives as a ring girl.
"She is professional and good at what she does. She presents herself well and I am very proud of her," he said.
Tan, who was born in Malacca, left her events management and freelance modelling in Kuala Lumpur and moved to Singapore in 2011 for a change of environment and to seek new job opportunities.
The Deal Or No Deal Malaysia briefcase model in 2007 has worked in the HR department of a construction engineering company and then at an educational institute. She completed her diploma in marketing at Management Development Institute of Singapore in 2013.
At 1.65m tall and weighing 56kg, Tan, who takes on freelance fitness modelling jobs, works hard to keep her body in shape. She puts in one to two hours of exercise daily, five times a week. She also tries to cook most of her meals and avoids rice and noodles.
Before she moved to Singapore, she rarely exercised, she said. Then, "out of boredom", she started to run after her move here.
The plus points of exercise in her career? "You look different when you have a healthy body and you look nicer in a bikini," she said.
The youngest of five children said that her family has always been supportive of her modelling career.
"They have always been supportive of what I do and have never scolded me if I wear something too sexy. I think as long as I look healthy and presentable, they will be okay with it," she said.
Where does she draw the line then? "I will never appear nude," she said.
Get The New Paper for more stories.
Photos 1 to 28 show Mel Tan, while the rest show other beautiful ring girls.