On 13 October, the ONE Strawweight World Champion will drop a division to challenge for the ONE Atomweight World Title and attempt to do the double after she defeated her rival to defend her belt.
It was a challenge the Chinese athlete had thought about before that first meeting in March, and when she was offered the chance to return to Tokyo, Japan and take it on, she had no hesitation.
“Maybe [Lee] took the [initiative] before me and challenged me at my weight division, but now, I have got this chance, so I agreed to the challenge,” she says.
“The promotion gave me the opportunity to agree to this fight, so okay, challenge accepted.”
Although Xiong won the first battle, she was pushed to the brink of defeat before she produced a remarkable comeback to score a fifth-round knockout.
She also believes “Unstoppable” is always evolving as an athlete, so she wanted to challenge herself by facing her again.
The Evolve and United MMA representative may have followed her defeat at ONE: A NEW ERA by losing a decision to Michelle Nicolini in July, but both of those bouts were at strawweight, and “The Panda” still saw plenty of positives for her to take away for her return to the division she has ruled since 2016.
“What makes me glad is that Angela can grow a lot as an athlete from these two losses since she is still very young,” Xiong says.
“She has a lot of room to improve, and we can all see that she’s a really, really excellent athlete. In particular, I like her groundwork. I really, really like it.”
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It was Lee’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that gave the Bali MMA representative all kinds of problems when they first locked horns.
She also believes that her rival performed so well for so long because she was the challenger with everything to gain and nothing to lose, so the pressure was on Xiong.
“When she challenged me, we were in different positions because that belt is mine,” Xiong says.
“She was in a better state than me. She was more relaxed as she was the challenger, but maybe at the last fight, I over-thought so my performance and was not fully focused with my techniques.”
Despite the weight on her shoulders, the Shandong native rose to the occasion, but now she knows that same burden could influence how this upcoming bout plays out, too.
“I think she will try her very best to fight me,” she adds. “It’s her division, after all. I am going there to take her belt, so our mentalities are different.
“She cares more about her belt and won’t let anyone take it, like when she challenged me. I think we can both understand each other’s mentality
“Like when she challenged me at my division, now I’m challenging her. It’s a World Title fight, so she has more pressure, and maybe I am in a more relaxed state. If I win, I am the World Champion of a different division, so my mentality is more relaxed.”
Xiong may enter the Circle with a cooler head than she did six months ago, but that does not mean she has prepared for this assignment with any less vigor.
The 31-year-old has been deep in training camp for months to ensure she can get her hand raised again and make history in the name of her homeland.
“My desire is even stronger now,” she says.
“I want to take this belt because if I win this fight and take the belt, I will become the first Chinese and the only Chinese World Champion in two divisions, and I will be the first and the only female World Champion in two divisions in ONE history.
“Most importantly, I want the world to see China’s prowess. I think many people have already seen China’s power. They know that we, Chinese athletes, are improving and working hard. We can show people how strong Chinese people are.”
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.