ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan is one of the most ferocious competitors in The Home Of Martial Arts.
“The Panda” will put that style on display next Friday, 30 October, when she defends her belt against old foe and #1-ranked contender Tiffany “No Chill” Teo at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX in the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
But while the 32-year-old has an aggressive nature inside the Circle, she’s incredibly compassionate outside of it.
“I’m a very emotional person. This is one of my weaknesses,” Xiong says.
“I know how to cherish more than anybody. After all, I’m a country girl. The places where I grew up and the education I received from my parents taught me about integrity and gratitude.
“Nothing will change the things that are born in my blood. Even when I told myself to be tougher and cold-blooded, I couldn’t do it.”
So far, Xiong hasn’t needed to be any tougher during competition. It’s clear she knows how to flip the switch and turn up the intensity when the opening bell rings.
That grit led “The Panda” to the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title, which she won in her first clash with Teo at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE back in January 2018. That evening, the Chinese star snuffed out “No Chill” in the fourth round with punishing right and left hands.
That fortitude has also kept Xiong undefeated at strawweight ever since.
After winning the belt, she has beaten all three of her World Title challengers, even the previously-undefeated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee in their March 2019 battle.
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If you ask Xiong, that success can’t be attributed solely to her in-ring characteristics. The Beijing, China, native is inspired by her niece and nephew along with the others who accept her soft and caring side.
“My greatest motivation is my parents, family, and friends who love me for who I am,” she says.
These days, Xiong is away from those friends and family while training at Evolve MMA in Singapore. Although she’s supported by her teammates during practice, she spends a lot of time alone with her thoughts outside of the gym.
“I think every sportsman is different, but I feel lonely constantly,” Xiong says.
“There’s only me on this path. I have to digest everything all by myself. True, there are helping hands, but no one can truly understand. Nobody can relate to me 100 percent. There’s no one to solve my problems or share my pain. There’s only me.”
It’s not easy, but according to Xiong, that isolation outside of the Circle is necessary for success inside of it – and she’s embracing the solitude.
“I’m not afraid of being lonely,” she says. “I think all the strong ones and World Champions are lonely. If one can endure and live with this loneliness, one will succeed in any field.”
Xiong’s dedication to success and the sacrifices she’s willing to make are due to her caring outlook on life and go beyond her personal triumphs.
“The Panda” wants to do everything in her power to elevate her profile in order to give back when her competitive days are over. She already stands up against injustices, but with a larger presence and financial security, she knows she can make a bigger difference in the world.
“My idea of life is to help more people,” the Chinese star says.
“I’ve always wanted to help more people within my capacity. When I walk on the street, I see scenes that I don’t want to see, or when I read about news that makes me sad, I blame myself.
“[I think], ‘When you were young, you wanted to help others, but you have failed because you don’t have the power.’
“I feel obligated. I have a sense of responsibility. I feel like Robin Hood sometimes. I feel obligated to help the disadvantaged.”
At the same time, “The Panda” is still figuring out the best ways to make a long-term difference.
“I must continue learning and improving myself before I’m strong enough to help others,” she says.
It may benefit Xiong to focus solely on her upcoming World Title defense against the woman who is looking for redemption, but it’s her nature to care. Without that side of her, she wouldn’t be “The Panda” fans know and love today.
But knowing that she can flip the switch in the Circle at any time, expect Xiong to enter her fight against Teo with the same determination that got her here.
“I want to have a better record and performance so that more people know mixed martial arts in China,” Xiong says.
“I also want to build the image of a strong woman to help with gender equality in China. I hope to provide confidence and inspiration to girls in China. I want to motivate more people to follow their dreams.”