One of “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan’s rewards for becoming ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion was the acquisition of an army of new fans.
The Chinese hero did not expect the amount of love she has received – both at home and abroad – but she is grateful for how it has made her feel ahead of her main-event bout at ONE: CENTURY PART I.
This Sunday, 13 October, Xiong will face “Unstoppable” Angela Lee in a rematch for the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title, and her supporters have given her more motivation than ever to succeed.
“The Panda” defeated Tiffany Teo last January to become the first Chinese athlete to win a mixed martial arts World Title, and she has defended it three times since.
With each impressive victory – especially her defeat of Lee when they met at ONE: A NEW ERA in March – her profile has increased, and the Shandong native has been both surprised and thrilled to be recognized everywhere.
“I was in Singapore recently, just walking the street, and many people recognized me, even though I was in another country,” the 31-year-old says.
“They would follow me quietly, and then when they felt like it was an appropriate time, they’d ask if they could disturb me, and politely ask for a picture. They really respected me, and how they did that was touching. I was very happy.
“When I was in Singapore, no matter where I was, whether I was walking somewhere or eating something, I would be recognized. I felt like everyone knew me.”
Singapore is Lee’s home, but even though “The Panda” has beaten its national hero – and plans on doing so again on 13 October – there was no shortage of respect from the citizens of “The Lion City.”
The same was true when she was 35,000 feet in the air, too.
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“When I was flying [out of Singapore], the flight attendant said she knew who I was and had seen my matches,” Xiong explains.
“She told the captain [I was on board], and he’d seen my matches too. He came out to take a picture with me and to encourage me. It’s delightful.”
Such ubiquitous attention gave the Bali MMA representative cause for concern for a moment when she realized her superstardom meant she was not likely to be given much peace in public from now on.
However, when she remembered she shared her success with her country, she was pleased that fans around the globe see her as the face of Chinese mixed martial arts.
“I realized I would be easily recognized from now on,” she says. “Then I was like, ‘Oh my, do I have to wear a mask?’
“However, I’m happy because I know people know me as the champion from China. [Being World Champion] is a type of promotion, so people get to know more about you and about your country. It’s good.”
Unfortunately, not all of the attention she received was positive. Some of the messages she saw online came from Lee’s ‘fans’ who did not maintain the respect for her rival that “Unstoppable” does herself.
“When they announced my fight with Angela Lee, I knew there would be doubters,” adds “The Panda.”
“Some of their comments… I really felt them. Such criticism sometimes made me feel helpless. I thought, what the big deal? I didn’t do anything bad.
“I thought, you don’t have to watch me [if you don’t like me], but I didn’t say anything, and I didn’t argue. That’s not what I would do.”
However, when she took the time to think about it, the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion was also fired up by this negativity.
Now she is more motivated than ever to show that her actions can speak louder than any words, and the best place to prove her doubters wrong was in the Circle.
Lifting another World Title would please Xiong’s growing fan club, and serve as the perfect retort to her critics.
“Actually, while I like that many people feel good about me, I love it when people make negative predictions about me,” she says. “It makes me want to prove myself to them.”
“I feel like I shouldn’t give myself negative vibes. All I need to do is prepare, and win. Then, I won’t need to say anything else.”
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.