“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan is excited to prove that she is the rightful ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion.
This coming Friday, 30 October, the Chinese mixed martial arts superstar will defend her belt against the very person she originally defeated to earn it – #1-ranked contender Tiffany “No Chill” Teo – at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX in Singapore.
“I will always do my best when I am in the cage. This is my stage. I’m ready,” Xiong says. “A victory will prove that I’m always ready. Things change, but there is only one ‘Panda.’”
When these athletes first met in Jakarta, Indonesia, back in January 2018, they went toe-to-toe for the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title.
Though Teo started the contest strong with her grappling, Xiong wore her down and eventually won via TKO in the fourth round. In claiming the gold, she also became China’s first-ever Mixed Martial Arts World Champion.
Ever since that fight, “No Chill” has been on a mission to get a rematch, developing her all-around game and defeating everyone in her path.
She first beat #2-ranked contender Michelle Nicolini by unanimous decision and then finished #4-ranked contender Ayaka “Zombie” Miura via third-round TKO, avoiding the Japanese star’s patented scarf-hold Americana lock and halting her meteoric rise.
Xiong is aware that Teo has improved tremendously since their initial clash, and she knows the environment at the Singapore Indoor Stadium will favor her challenger.
“This time, she will be competing in her hometown and there will be many people there to support her, so I think my energy from the audience might get affected,” the Chinese athlete says.
“She always performs very well, but I think she will be on another level this time since she will be competing in her hometown.”
For her part, Xiong will simply be focused on the task at hand. And so far, that mindset has paid dividends.
Since her bout with Teo, “The Panda” has successfully defended the belt three times. She dominated Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin for five rounds, finished Samara “Marituba” Santos, and then did the same to previously undefeated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
Following her monumental victory over Lee, the Chinese star attempted to make history by moving down a weight class and challenging the atomweight queen for her crown last October. While Xiong came close to achieving the feat, she ultimately suffered the first and only loss of her ONE career after being submitted in the final seconds of the contest.
Although “The Panda” was disappointed, she’s now motivated to rebound in a major way, and there’s no better way to do so than by putting on a show in Singapore.
“I am a warrior who never gives up,” she says. “And my fans and my family will always support me.”
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Xiong could have some new tricks and sharpened tools to show off in Friday’s clash.
The Chinese superstar has been living in “The Lion City” and training at Evolve since last December, allowing her to fine-tune her already-ferocious boxing, tighten up the rest of her strikes, and continue improving her formidable ground game.
Though COVID-19 restrictions in Singapore made it difficult to practice grappling, Xiong and the gym’s World Champion instructor team adapted, even utilizing training dummies.
“It’s been a year since I moved to Singapore, and I have improved,” the Chinese star says.
“I am happy that I came to Evolve. I have met many champions from different countries. From them, I can learn what I lack.”
Xiong would love nothing more than to produce a highlight-reel KO in her big promotional return.
And while the strawweight queen wants to reaffirm her leading status in the division, she also wants to prove that she can succeed amid this uncertain and extraordinary time in the world.
“I want to let my fans see that ‘The Panda’ is always ready for a fight,” Xiong says, “no matter what the situation is.”