Nobody could have predicted “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan’s exponential rise in 2018.
Her victory over April Osenio in December 2017 offered a glimpse as to why she was so highly touted when she arrived in ONE Championship. Evidently, that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Why they call Xiong Jing Nan the punching panda! 🐼Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, August 17, 2018
From winning the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship in January to her two successful title defenses in June and September, the last 12 months have been spectacular for the Chinese superstar.
The title shot seemed to come quickly for Xiong, but in reality, it was the product of years of hard work and fierce dedication.
“I had waited for this moment for a really long time,” the 30-year-old Beijing native says.
“I began to prepare myself for it since I first started dreaming of becoming a champion.”
Xiong hit the ground running in January with her memorable fourth-round TKO victory over Tiffany “No Chill” Teo at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE in Jakarta, Indonesia.
That historic win earned her the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title and, in the process, she became China’s first mixed martial arts World Champion.
"The Panda" made history with this victory!Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, August 11, 2018
Despite claiming the gold, she refused to slow down. She maintained her normal training routine in an effort to continue evolving as a martial artist.
“It didn’t change too much when I became champion,” Xiong reveals.
“I just need to keep focusing and keep going. There is always space to improve your skills.”
It is this humility that keeps the World Champion at the top of her game. “The Panda” never accepts a performance as perfect, which in turn motivates her to continue refining her craft at Bali MMA.
“Every time I train with my teammates, I feel there are many things I could learn from them — the movement and the skills,” she continues.
“Training with them really helps me to improve myself a lot. I am improving in every way I can, physically and emotionally.”
After becoming China’s first mixed martial arts World Champion at the start of the year, “The Panda” added two successful title defenses to her resume, both in dominant fashion.
First, she took a unanimous decision over Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau, and then knocked out Brazil’s Samara “Marituba” Santos at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON in Shanghai.
The two wins in her home nation allowed Xiong to showcase her own skills, in addition to drawing attention to the ever-growing number of talented Chinese martial artists.
“There are many good fighters in China. I am just one of them,” she offers, humbly.
One of the standout moments of her remarkable year was the win over Santos in September, when she had the main-event slot and delivered a spectacular finish.
However, she does not see her victories solely as personal gains, but as a wider reflection of her nation’s growing status in the sport.
“I am the only one who represents China by holding a World Championship. I feel honored,” she says.
“Meanwhile, I feel this is the opportunity for the world to see how fast MMA is developing in China.
“The Chinese MMA fighters are getting better and better. It’s another way to show the world how great Chinese fighters are.”
There was just one disappointment for the Beijing resident.
In November, she was supposed to take part in the biggest women’s bout in history at ONE: HEART OF THE LION. She was originally scheduled to defend her belt against atomweight queen “Unstoppable” Angela Lee in an epic World Champion versus World Champion match-up.
"The Panda" Xiong Jing Nan eats pressure for breakfast.Singapore | 9 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelion18
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, October 29, 2018
Unfortunately, the undefeated Singaporean was forced to withdraw from the contest due to injury just days before the landmark main-event battle.
“The Panda” was understandably despondent, having completed a grueling training camp for the colossal encounter.
“I felt very sad when I heard about this news,” she admits.
“I had been preparing for this match for a long time, and I had been through a lot, but I don’t like to complain.”
However, there is a silver lining, and a reason for the Chinese pioneer to remain motivated, as the bout is now scheduled for the co-main event of ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan on 31 March.
“They say good things take time, and I will be better for the next chance,” she states.
We still haven't seen the best version of Xiong Jing Nan 👀Singapore | 9 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelion18
Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Xiong has been a standout competitor in The Home Of Martial Arts in 2018, and she remains steadfast in her desire to compete and win at the highest level.
She hopes to solidify her legacy when the new year rolls in, and in current form, “The Panda” looks hard to stop. Perhaps the best is truly yet to come.