ONE Championship may be closing out 2017 in style this weekend, but there are a few athletes who are just beginning their respective careers on the global stage with the world’s most exciting martial arts promotion.
This coming Saturday, 9 December, four of the world’s best will make their promotional debut at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, live in front of a capacity crowd at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
All of these debutants – and a returning talent – come from incredible martial arts backgrounds, and have the talent and the intelligence to take their careers to their next level on the global stage.
After making a name for herself throughout the Chinese martial arts scene for the past four years, “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan has finally made the jump to ONE.
The 29-year-old Beijing native previously competed as a professional boxer, before setting her sights on a career in the cage. Xiong’s transition from the boxing ring to the cage has been near-flawless. She has compiled a dazzling record of 12-1, with several of those victories coming by way of stoppage.
Though known for her striking prowess, “The Panda” has been rounding out her game with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In fact, she is a China Open BJJ Champion, and her debut win actually came via armbar.
Considered one of the top strawweights in China, Xiong is now training at Phuket Top Team in preparation of her promotional debut this coming Saturday night. She meets the Philippines’ April Osenio, and if victorious, would instantly throw herself into title contention.
Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad was born in Manila, Philippines, and is tragically the product of a broken home.
Her parents divorced when she was young, and she was often bullied by bigger kids in school. Trinidad, however, always stood up for herself. As a matter of fact, she started her martial arts journey two and a half years ago for self-defense.
“I was encouraged to train because I wanted to learn self-defense and to avoid discrimination for women’s empowerment.”
“The Rebel” studied the Filipino art of Sikaran and was quite the prodigious talent, eventually winning a National Sikaran Championship. From there, the freelance model and rock singer studied other martial arts and prepared for cage competition before making a successful professional debut earlier this April.
Now training in Bangkok, the 20-year-old Trinidad makes her maiden ONE Championship appearance opposite Thai star Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige (2-1) in a three-round atomweight affair. Needless to say, she would love to follow up her first performance with another TKO.
“I would prefer to finish the match early by strikes,” Trinidad admits. “But whatever mistakes she makes, I will capitalize on, and end the bout either by striking or on the ground.”
Dodi “The Maung” Mardian
Indonesia’s Dodi “The Maung” Mardian may be a new face to the cage, but he is undoubtedly a martial arts veteran.
The Jakarta-based striker, by way of Bandung in West Java, has a long history in combat sports. The 33-year-old was a member of both Indonesia’s National Sanda Team and Muay Thai Team, and is an Indonesian Muay Thai Champion.
Mardian brought his assorted skill set to the cage in 2015, and now over a year and a half removed from his last bout, he is looking to elevate his global standing in ONE Championship.
The flyweight will make his promotional debut at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD against former WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Yodsanan Sityodtong. Although Mardian is walking into his opponent’s home territory, he is undeterred. In fact, he is confident.
“My nickname is ‘The Maung.’ It means tiger in Sundanese, and I use it to represent my Sundanese heritage and to compete with the spirit of the tiger.”
Asraful “Warrior” Islam
Asraful “Warrior” Islam could become Bangladesh’s first big martial arts star.
The Dhaka, Bangladesh-based bantamweight constantly aspires to be like Bruce Lee, his own personal martial arts hero. He started practicing Lee’s Jeet Kune Do in 2012, and followed that up by studying a wide range of disciplines, including boxing, submission grappling and wushu. He would eventually become a National Wushu Champion.
While he competed in several amateur competitions and won medals, his focus has always been to compete inside the cage. After a successful 2-0 start, he makes his promotional debut against China’s Tang De Pan.
“This is for my nation,” Islam explains. “It is the first time ever a man from Bangladesh will represent his country on the most prestigious platform in the world — a platform where many athletes like me dream, where many are training to give their best, and show their skills to the world.
“This will put a massive significance on my country. I want to give my best performance for those who have up their dream to raise our flag here, who gave up their career, but did not give up the fight for us. This match is for them.”
This might not be the first time China’s Tang De Pan is gracing the ONE Championship cage, but fans might need a reintroduction since we last saw him compete nearly two years ago in January 2016.
There, he scored a stunning highlight-reel slam knockout of fellow countryman Zhou Biao, and showed the world what to expect from a Chinese national sanda champion. Since then, he’s brought his sanda record to an impressive 30-1 while rounding out his ground game.
Hailing from Yongzhou, in the Hunan province of China, Tang began training in martial arts in 2011 because he loved the fun and excitement of competing, and has never stopped honing his growing skill set since. Inevitably, his attention turned to cage, which he sees as the ultimate testing ground for a martial artist.
Determined to challenge himself on the greatest stage possible, he aims to see how well he matches up against the best martial artists in the world in ONE Championship, and prove the effectiveness of sanda against other styles and disciplines. He gets his next chance to do so against Bangladesh’s Asraful Islam.