The ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion will move up in weight to challenge the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion for her belt in a super-bout that fans have been anticipating for more than six months.
Singapore’s Lee is aiming to become the first female two-division World Champion in The Home Of Martial Arts, but her Chinese adversary will not relinquish the belt easily.
Both athletes have been dominant on the global stage for martial arts –dispatching every challenger that has come their way – but something will have to give at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.
Though they have each proven to be unbeatable so far in ONE, each athlete has some weapons that could make the difference against their dangerous rival. These are four of those keys to victory.
“The Panda’s” Power
Defending World Champion Xiong is a former Chinese national boxing team representative, and her hands have been her biggest asset in The Home Of Martial Arts.
“The Panda” let April Osenio feel the power of her fists when she debuted in The Home Of Martial Arts in 2017, and then struck gold against Tiffany “No Chill” Teo thanks to a relentless barrage of hard punches.
The Bali MMA representative has no fear of planting her feet, standing in the pocket, and letting rip with rapid-fire combinations – whoever she faces, and whatever their skill set might be.
A single blow can make the difference, or Xiong can overwhelm her rivals with relentless pressure and volume.
Furthermore, Lee is moving up in weight for the contest so the extra force from a bigger and stronger athlete than she is used to could be telling if she eats heavy leather at any point over five rounds.
“Unstoppable” In The Clinch
Lee is also a threat on her feet thanks to her tight straight punches and flowing combinations, but a firefight against a bigger adversary would not be wise.
Instead, “Unstoppable” will likely use her strikes to force her way into a clinch, where she is extremely dangerous. She is skilled at controlling her rivals, and can attack with accurate and powerful knees, or pursue several takedown options.
A firm favorite for Lee is the front-headlock snapdown, but if she cannot force her opponent’s head down, she also transitions well into a judo-style attack, with hip throws and harai goshi outside reaps.
With both takedowns, she instantly goes on the offensive with strong control of the head and neck, and Xiong would have to be ready to defend immediately to avoid a quick tap.
Xiong’s Survival Instinct
Just as Lee would not want to oblige “The Panda” in her area of expertise, the Beijing native would be well served to try and avoid a ground battle with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
Fortunately, if she ends up on her back, the Chinese hero has the tools to survive, make space, and scramble away from danger. When Xiong is on her back, getting back up is the priority, and she instantly works her feet to her opponents’ hips to create space.
Her explosiveness can make her difficult to pin down, and her strength hard to move around.
Lee is also dangerous off her back, but if the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion finds herself sitting in guard, she does not need to panic. She can hold position well and unleash strikes at every opportunity.
That will help her escape, but she can also deal out decisive damage. Standing ground and pound would work well against the Singaporean, as she would be away from Lee’s long legs, and able to back out if she needs to.
Lee’s Black Belt Attack
Lee’s BJJ skills are among the best on the ONE roster. There is no other athlete who can match the variety of submissions that the Evolve representative has showcased.
Laura Balin and Samara Santos offered some problems to Xiong in their World Title challenges, but Lee’s grappling game is light years ahead.
The 22-year-old goes far beyond basic attacks – she transitions seamlessly from position to position, chaining submission attempts together, and threatening with techniques only the most skilled grapplers can anticipate.
To date, she has finished with armlocks, twisters, chokes, and neck cranks on the global stage for martial arts – securing stoppages from top position and from her back.
Xiong will have to be wary in any grounded position, because the atomweight queen is never far away from a potentially bout-ending offensive.