“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan will face a familiar challenger in her next ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title defense, and she hopes that a switch in camps will help her produce an even more convincing performance.
The Chinese hero — who recently moved to Singapore to train at Evolve — is set to defend her crown against Tiffany “No Chill” Teo, who earned the World Title rematch with her TKO victory over Ayaka “Zombie” Miura at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE back in February.
Their second meeting has been put on ice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which recently prompted the Singaporean government to extend its partial lockdown in the two athletes’ now-shared home.
However, Xiong is looking at the positives, including what she sees as a great move to the vibrant city-state.
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“I saw there were many good coaches and athletes in this gym, and I wanted to be involved. I wanted to take a bigger step,” the 32-year-old Chinese mixed martial artist explains.
“I had been in Singapore several times to see what the situation was like, and in December, I officially joined Evolve because I wanted to improve and make more progress.
“I loved Singapore from the very beginning. I love the weather and the city vibe itself. I love to train with my teammates, I love my new gym, and I love to make jokes with my teammates while we are training.”
While her training at Evolve has been temporarily halted due to the government mandates to stay at home, “The Panda” cannot wait for the local orders to be lifted so she can return to the mega gym and continue her preparations for the rematch.
“[The COVID-19 outbreak] has affected my training hugely because now, I can only do some small, simple drills. I have to train alone with no coach helping me, no teammate training with me, and no gym equipment to use,” she offers.
“I’ve been focusing on comprehensively training all my skills [while I have been at Evolve], and I think I would like to be more focused on my ground game [when the gym re-opens]. It is getting stronger.”
Xiong defeated Teo with a blistering TKO in the fourth round of their initial encounter to claim the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship in January 2018.
However, she will need to be at her best if she wants to claim a second victory against her old rival.
“No Chill” has been victorious in back-to-back contests since their first meeting.
Aside from her win over Miura, the Team Highlight Reel representative defeated eight-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Michelle Nicolini at ONE: HEART OF THE LION.
With her current form, the 30-year-old looks like an even bigger threat to the women’s strawweight throne – and that is something Xiong understands very well.
“She has made a lot of progress. I feel very happy for her, and I am also looking forward to this match,” the Chinese hero admits.
“Her mental strength has improved a lot. She has become more and more confident, and her skills have also improved a lot, too.”
When the highly anticipated match-up does finally come to fruition, “The Panda” believes it could deliver an even more exciting spectacle.
However, Xiong’s agenda would be the same as always, and that is to deliver a spectacular knockout for the fans.
“It will be worth the expectation,” she states.
“Since my first ONE World Title bout against her two years ago, we have both improved and changed a lot, especially on an emotional level.
“I couldn’t tell you how it will go since it’s very unpredictable in a mixed martial arts fight — you use many different skills, and the match can change in the blink of an eye. But let’s say it this way, I like to get the KO!”
Read more: Xiong Jing Nan’s 3 Most Explosive Knockouts