Team Lakay’s female standout April Osenio has not competed since a bitter loss to Jenny “Lady GoGo” Huang merely a year ago. Now, she is scheduled to return to action, and has drawn a top strawweight contender.
On Saturday, 9 December, Osenio will square off against highly-regarded Chinese martial artist “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan (12-1) on the main card of ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD. The event will broadcast live from the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Baguio, Philippines native knows of the tough challenge that lies ahead of her, but promises to give fans her best effort and turn this into a stand-up war.
“It has been a while since fans last saw me in the cage. I would say I have not changed a lot, I have just been working on improving my skills,” the 23-year-old explains.
“My style is still the same. I focus on my wushu, and really want to test my opponent’s striking abilities. I am excited to show everyone how much better I am this time around.”
Osenio last competed in December 2016 opposite Chinese Taipei’s Huang. Although the Filipino performed well in the first round, Huang was able to secure a gogoplata in the second frame, and submitted the Team Lakay competitor.
“Lady GoGo,” as she would be later called, moved on to face reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee following the victory.
“That one definitely hurt. It took me a while to get over that loss, and I had to pick up the pieces after some time,” Osenio admits, recalling the loss against Huang. “But with the help of my team and my coach, I went back to training, and now I am more focused than ever.”
Her next opponent, Xiong, is widely-considered one of China’s top female martial artists. With an impressive professional record of 12-1, “The Panda” began her career competing in professional boxing. Apart from her solid striking credentials, the 29-year-old from Beijing is also a China Open BJJ Champion.
To say that Osenio has her work cut out for her is an understatement. Nonetheless, the Filipino is looking forward to her fifth professional bout, and wants to prove a point.
“I cannot say that I have seen much footage of her (Xiong’s) past bouts, but I heard from reports that she is very strong and skillful,” Osenio says. “This makes my preparation for this next match crucial, because I want to show the world that I can hang with the best.”
Setting up camp deep in the high altitudes of the Philippines’ mountainous region, Osenio hones her craft training with her esteemed stablemates at Team Lakay. Most of her training partners are already well-established in their careers, and Osenio says she certainly learns a lot from them.
“Out of all my teammates, I spend the most time training with Gina [Iniong], Joshua [Pacio], Danny [Kingad], and Geje [Eustaquio],” she continues. “It is so important that we help each other improve, because we can a lot from our experiences, especially championship bout experience.”
However, Team Lakay has not fared well in recent times, with several of their stars suffering tough losses.
To say that the pressure is on Osenio to cap off the year by taking a win home for the team is putting it lightly. She knows victory is a must to prove to fans that the future is bright for the Philippines’ premier martial arts stable.
“There is a lot of pressure on me to win, to show that Team Lakay is still one of the top teams in Asia despite our recent setbacks. Although we have had some heartbreaking losses in our past few bouts, our team remains dedicated to representing the Philippines in the best way possible,” she states.
Also, with Singapore’s Tiffany Teo needing an opponent for her promised shot at the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship, the stakes could not be any higher.
When Osenio steps back into the cage at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, she will not only be looking for the biggest win of her career, but also an opportunity to vie for the coveted gold strap.
“It has been a year since my last match, and I have been really working on sharpening my skills and fixing a lot of my weaknesses,” she explains.
“This next bout is so important, because my opponent is one of China’s best martial artists, and a win will really speak volumes of where I am at as a professional.
“This is one of the toughest training camps I have ever had so far, and I am ready to showcase the results in Bangkok.”