For the first time, two reigning World Champions will go to battle and the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship will be on the line.
On 31 March in Tokyo, Japan Singaporean superstar Lee, the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion, will step up in weight to take on her greatest challenge – the bigger, stronger Chinese hero.
Before they face off in the ring, take a look back at how both athletes booked their ticket to the Ryogoku Kokugikan, and what you can expect when the bell rings.
The Road To Tokyo
Both athletes arrive at the biggest event in ONE history thanks to their perfect records in The Home Of Martial Arts.
Lee became the face of the company when she won the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title in a thriller with Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi in 2016.
She has since stayed undefeated and defended her belt three times – including in another incredible battle with Yamaguchi in her most recent contest last May.
Xiong only emerged on the global stage for martial arts in December 2017, but quickly built a reputation as the most powerful female competitor in ONE.
Across four bouts – including three World Title contests and two defenses of her belt – she has barely looked threatened as she ripped through the competition.
Another defense would see her match “Unstoppable’s” record as the most dominant woman on the roster, and it looked like she would have the chance to do that in November. However, her date with Lee was postponed because of a back injury the challenger needed time to recover from.
Five months later, both athletes are ready to go.
Breaking Down The Bout
Way back in October, Lee recognized that she would be the underdog for this match, but she was supremely confident that she could finish her rival quickly for a signature win.
Though she suffered an injury setback, she recently said that would actually play to her advantage. Having recovered and had more time to hone her skills, the United MMA and Evolve representative believes she is more dangerous than ever. Her prediction for the contest, naturally, has not changed.
In the build-up to this co-main event clash in Tokyo, Lee also revealed how her time out of action taught her about the value of patience, which she believes has set her up for a longer, more successful career. She also talked about how she managed to keep a positive mindset during one of the most testing times of her life, and how she can use that in her bouts to help her push through adversity.
In the other corner, Xiong predicted she would knock out her challenger from the first day this match-up was confirmed. Her confidence has not wavered since then, and she still expects to make her compatriots proud with a highlight-reel victory.
“The Panda’s” analysis of her upcoming World Title defense was just what you would expect from someone who competes with such aggression, but she also shared a softer side of her character.
The Bali MMA product revealed her emotional side and gave a heartfelt account of all the sacrifices she has made to reach the top – explaining about the people who inspire her to dedicate herself to the sport and succeed.
With the stage set for a classic encounter, we took a look at why Xiong’s strengths are likely to test Lee like never before, as well as the ways “Unstoppable” could live up to her moniker and overcome the size disadvantage to cause the upset.
As event week heats up, we also took an in-depth look at the keys to victory for both women – whether this match stays standing, or plays out on the ground.
After all that, it is hard to imagine how fans could not be feverish with anticipation for this World Champion versus World Champion battle this Sunday.