Xiong pummeled 13-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Michelle Nicolini for five rounds to retain her gold via unanimous decision in their mixed martial arts contest at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, 3 September.
The first round went to plan for “The Panda.” She fended off Nicolini’s takedown attempts and stayed safe when the Brazilian pulled guard to try to force a ground battle.
Staying hands-off in the grappling department, Xiong backed out and clubbed the BJJ superstar with hard punches and snapping kicks.
A thudding right hand dropped Nicolini, and the Chinese standout rallied with ground-and-pound before showing her maturity to back away instead of engaging in her rival’s guard.
Xiong continued with her controlled attack in round two, easily stuffing the challenger’s takedown attempts and waiting for her chance to strike. The Evolve athlete’s low kicks started to accumulate damage and sent Nicolini to the mat.
However, the Chinese superstar was reminded that she could not get complacent when the submission specialist latched onto her leg and attempted a foot lock — albeit an ultimately fruitless one.
The third frame offered more of the same from Xiong, as she kept her distance and attacked with punches and low kicks. A missed kick gave Nicolini the chance to attach herself to “The Panda’s” back, but Xiong turned in, and the Brazilian was forced to pull guard.
After holding her rival up in the air for a while, Xiong placed her on the ground, chipped away with strikes, and stayed safe inside Nicolini’s guard until the end of the stanza.
The reigning titleholder was on cruise control as the championship rounds came into play. And from there, she implemented her game plan to a tee — chopping away with low kicks and looking for openings to throw an overhand right. Nicolini tried to push forward, but “The Panda’s” movement was always a step ahead.
The Brazilian had to make something happen in the final frame, but despite the will being there, the ability was not. Xiong continued to fire away at her rival’s legs and load up with her right hand, while she easily backed out from the one connection Nicolini made.
Barring a miracle, “The Panda” had the match in the bag, and she kept her leather in the challenger’s face until the final bell. There was never any doubt about the result, as the judges rendered a unanimous decision in Xiong’s favor.
The win pushed Xiong’s record to 16-2 and made her the most dominant women’s World Champion in ONE history, surpassing reigning atomweight queen “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, who’s made four successful defenses.