“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan (14-1) may have just captured the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship, but she is focused on improving, and evolving into a more dominant athlete.
In January, the 30-year-old knocked out undefeated Singaporean Tiffany “No Chill” Teo to claim the belt, and become the first Chinese mixed martial arts world champion.
Although she out-pointed Teo at every turn before finally putting her away in the fourth round, Xiong knows she can perform even better in the future.
“What I learned from the last fight is I need to be more stable, more focused, tougher, and faster,” she says.
“The Panda” has since stepped away from her training at Phuket Top Team, and has spent more time at Bali MMA in anticipation of her first world title defense against Argentinian strawweight Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin (10-2) at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER on Saturday, 23 June.
Before Xiong heads to the Studio City Event Center in Macau for her co-main event bout, she spoke exclusively about her training, representing China, how she deals with the pressures of competition, and much more.
ONE Championship: How does it feel to be China’s first mixed martial arts world champion, and what does it mean to you to inspire your nation?
Xiong Jing Nan: I am really glad I could show the world that Chinese martial arts is on a different level now. Also, it is an honor to be representing the power of China.
I do not think I am qualified to say I am inspiring my nation. But, I could use myself to inspire more people in China – those who have the talent and interest in martial arts. I wish the world could see the power of Chinese martial arts through me.
ONE: In what ways does your nickname, “The Panda,” reflect who you are?
XJN: Because the panda is the national treasure of China. A panda is cute, simple, and honest. It is like me, and some of my fans call me a treasure of China, so we are kind of related.
ONE: For your upcoming bout with Balin, you are representing Bali MMA. Why is that?
XJN: Well, there is really no such thing as leaving or staying at a gym. For me, no matter where I go, the old gym always leaves a mark on me, and follows me to the next gym. Each gym has its own strengths, and they are all worth visiting for me keep learning, all while keeping the old skills I have learned.
ONE: What has it been like to train at Bali MMA?
XJN: I have been training at Bali MMA for one year now. They have a very professional team that has helped me improve very quickly. I have learned many skills, and there is a good training system in place there. The environment in Bali gives me a new motivation every day. Everyone encourages each other and learns from each other.
ONE: Have you gone surfing at all while you have been there?
XJN: Not exactly. The reason I came to Bali is not for fun. I am here to improve myself and to train better. I know what my mission is, and I know exactly what I want. I am 100 percent focused on my match.
ONE: Let’s talk about your match with Balin. What are your thoughts on her, and how do you anticipate the match ending?
XJN: Laura is a very experienced fighter, and she has complete skills with a really good record. This will be a challenge for me. I do not like to predict a result, because anything is possible during a fight. All I know is I should be myself and give my best, and that will bring me more confidence.
ONE: Do you feel any pressure heading into your first World Title defense?
XJN: Of course, there is a lot of pressure, but this is also a motivation for me. It will definitely provide me with a chance to learn.
ONE: How do you deal with pressure, in general?
XJN: You need to know what you really want, because when there is a problem ahead of you, you need to accept it first. Then you learn how to solve it, and then you can overcome it.
I like to take notes. When I have problems, I will write down my thoughts. It helps me relieve tension and pressure. I like to look back at my path, and see that I have been very clear on what I wanted in the very beginning.
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast