“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan (14-1) is ready to make her first defense of the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship.
As these two women make their final preparations for one of the biggest martial events of 2018, learn everything you need to know about this epic ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title match-up.
Two Beginnings, ONE Journey
Xiong has always sought excitement.
Raised in China’s Shandong province, Xiong was a free-spirited child with a taste for adventure. She was heavily influenced by her father, who encouraged her to pursue martial arts and to always challenge herself.
“The Panda” followed his advice closely.
Although Xiong originally attended a sports school for weightlifting, she quit to join the women’s provincial boxing team at the age of 18. Soon, she represented China on the international stage.
Following a move to Beijing, Xiong began to train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The grappling art seems to have come naturally to her, as she quickly rose to the rank of purple belt and captured a China Open BJJ Championship.
After she developed those skills, “The Panda” embarked on a mixed martial arts career.
Unlike her Chinese counterpart, Balin did not get involved in sports during her childhood.
In fact, the Entre Rios, Argentina resident never expressed an interest in athletics. She was dedicated to her career as a kindergarten teacher, and focused on raising her two sons.
That changed, however, when her husband Guillermo, a lifelong martial artist, convinced her to try kickboxing in 2008. She fell in love with the striking art, started competing in the ring a year later, and soon left her teaching job for a full-time martial arts career.
Balin studied BJJ, and eventually received her purple belt in the discipline. Her well-rounded set of skills would serve her well when she stepped into the cage for mixed martial arts competition.
The Road To Strawweight Glory
In August 2014, Xiong made a lightning-quick debut by submitting her opponent in 50 seconds via armbar.
That was a sign of things to come, as “The Panda” won another 11 matches en route to signing with ONE Championship. She has continued to tear through the competition in The Home Of Martial Arts. ‘
She made a strong first impression by knocking out April Osenio last December, and then stopped undefeated Singaporean Tiffany “No Chill” Teo a month later to claim the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title.
Balin also had a quick debut. In October 2011, she won her first match via rear-naked choke in a mere 81 seconds.
For the next several years, she competed in South America, and chalked up an impressive record of 10-2. What was even more impressive was her ability to earn stoppages in nine of those victories – five via submission, and another four via knockout.
“La Gladiadora” emerged as the top women’s strawweight in Argentina, and now she wants to show the world why she could be the best women’s strawweight on the planet.
The Winning Strategies
Xiong is not prepared to predict the outcome of this World Title tilt.
The champion is keeping her cards close to her chest with regards to a game plan, too. However, the Chinese athlete says she will rely on her strengths to defend the belt for the first time.
“I do not like to anticipate any result, because anything is possible during a fight,” she offers. “All I know is I should be myself and give my best, and that will bring me more confidence.”
If her first two ONE bouts are anything to go by, being herself means taking advantage of her hard-hitting boxing to do damage, with her ever-improving BJJ skills available to lean on if she decides to take the contest to the mat – or if she is put there.
Conversely, Balin has no reservations about revealing her blueprint to defeat “The Panda.”
Though the Argentinian has a respectable kickboxing background, she plans to take the contest to the canvas and use her BJJ expertise to force a stoppage.
“We have been training to avoid her strikes and her aggressiveness, and the idea is to take the fight to the floor,” Balin explains.
“We have been training very hard on striking, so if we have to fight on our feet, we will do it that way. If not, we will take it down to the floor. That would be it.”
Michael Schiavello, ONE Championship Lead Commentator
“They say a champion is not a true champion until they have defended their title, so the pressure is on Xiong to prove she is no flash in the pan, and to prove she can win in front of a crowd with high expectations.
“I expect a feeling-out process at the start, and then Xiong to unleash utter domination with her hands. Balin has to withstand Xiong’s punches and hope she tires herself out. Then, she has to take her down and slap on a submission.
Balin may have to walk through danger before a takedown comes, and if it does happen for her and she gets on top, she had better be ready to finish.”
Mitch Chilson, Broadcast Commentator And Former ONE Athlete
“Balin has been thrust into the spotlight. She has been given the opportunity of a lifetime by challenging for the belt.
“Xiong is becoming a huge star in China. Maybe the pressure will get to her, and Balin has an opportunity to upset the champion if the stars align.
“Xiong has spent the past few months at Bali MMA, so you can expect her grappling to be improved. However, she prefers to stand and bang. She has fast hands, and loves to use them. Look for Xiong to back Balin against the fence and let her hands go.
“If Balin wants to take the belt from Xiong, then she needs to take her off her feet. Xiong’s opponents crumble under the weight of her punches, so Balin may need to take her down.
“If Balin can hold Xiong down and drop some ground and pound on her until the submission presents itself, she could leave Macau the new ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion.”
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast