“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan is already the most dominant female athlete in ONE Championship history, but she is not content with her achievements.
When the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion enters the Circle for her main event clash against #4-ranked contender Ayaka “Zombie” Miura at ONE: HEAVY HITTERS on Friday, 14 January, she’ll have another opportunity to progress forward.
“My first dream was to become a World Champion. Now my dream has come true, but I won’t dwell on that,” the 33-year-old Beijing native says.
“I regard myself as a competitive person. I like challenging myself, pushing my limits forward, and challenging the different versions of me. I want to see how much farther I can go and how much higher I can reach.
“So, although I have become the World Champion, I still believe that I can achieve more. I really haven’t made it, but I have been working hard to become the ideal person I wish to be.”
Xiong claimed the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title in January 2018, has defended her crown five times, and holds the record for most knockouts across all the promotion’s female divisions. What’s more, she has mostly cleared out the top-five ranked MMA fighters in her weight class.
Still, that doesn’t make her feel invincible.
The humble Chinese superstar knows that every bout poses a new threat. That stops her from resting on her laurels and keeps her motivated through every arduous training camp.
“I’ve been successfully defending my championship since 2018. I’m definitely proud of myself, but I’m never arrogant. I won’t ever show off with my past achievements,” Xiong says.
“I never regard myself as an unbeatable fighter. There’s no one who can never lose a fight. However, currently, what I need to do is to become more and more powerful. Right now, I just want to be unstoppable.
“Everyone has their best side. And, of course, everyone could also have a weak side. I believe that everyone could be a strong opponent, while being weak at times.”
In Miura, “The Panda” sees a competent and aggressive ground fighter who has some very specific tools that she will have to overcome.
The Japanese phenom is a third-degree judo black belt who owns an impressive 11-3 (1 NC) career record, with four of those wins coming on the global stage. Moreover, she earned those quartet of victories with her trademark scarfhold Americana, which has certainly gained Xiong’s attention.
And with three of those wins happening in the strawweight division, that makes “Zombie” the reigning submission queen of the weight class.
“There’s no doubt that Miura is an excellent athlete. She’s really good at ground fighting techniques and jiu-jitsu techniques. It’s really hard to escape once she has grappled you,” the Chinese powerhouse explains.
“She likes to end every fight with her best shoulder lock technique from kesa gatame. And she has even injured her opponents’ elbows with it.
“It’s a new challenge for me, a higher-level and much harder one. I’m not afraid. It’s just that I need to be more thoughtful. I have foreseen some scenarios that I might get into, and how should I deal with them.”
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On the plus side, Xiong will be well-versed with her game plan heading into another battle with a ground specialist.
“I have fought against excellent ground fighters and I have been always well prepared with takedown defense tactics,” she says.
“In my last fight, I defeated Michelle Nicolini, who’s an eight-time [IBJJF] World Champion. Miura might have not won any BJJ World Championships, but it doesn’t mean that she’s not good enough.
“Like I said, her shoulder lock from the kesa gatame is really great. It might work on different opponents, but I’m going to prove that it doesn’t work on me.”
Despite the huge task ahead, Miura didn’t seem too fazed by poking the bear and stated that “The Panda’s” latest bouts were boring — even suggesting that the World Champion had lost some of her finishing ability.
Xiong is not renowned for getting into back-and-forth verbal spats with her adversaries, but she did rise to “Zombie’s” remarks and said that her latest challenger would get to feel it for herself when they square off.
“Miura thinks my fights are boring? So, how about trying something new in this fight so that she won’t get bored?” she retorts.
“She also thinks that I’m not able to knock down any opponent? She thinks I’m losing the ability to KO? We will see in the ring. I will show her what a KO is and how it feels to be knocked down by Xiong Jing Nan.”
The Chinese superstar won’t let any talk detract from her main focus, however. She wants to hone her own game and impose her will on Miura.
“I’ll only focus on my own power and ability, including my punches, kicks, ground fighting, and wrestling. I won’t get influenced by any external factors,” she adds.
Adding to her legacy with a win is the most important thing for Xiong — though it could see her effectively clear out her division with wins over the leading contenders.
That adds some excitement for future matchups, as “The Panda” looks to insert herself into the buzzing atomweight mix — with an old foe still in her sights and the hope to settle some unfinished business in a trilogy bout.
“I like to always fully focus on the current stuff before I can move forward. But now that I’m asked, after this fight, part of my plan is to participate in atomweight fights,” she says.
“Of course, I’ve been looking forward to the third fight against Angela Lee. That fight is what I have been looking forward to all the time.”