If their first bout wasn’t exciting enough, then I cannot wait for the second bout happening at ONE: CENTURY PART I in the very same venue once again.
Lee moved up a weight class in March to challenge Xiong for the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title, and although she came up short, she showed tremendous heart in that five-round match. That performance showcased a lot of her abilities, and I believe this match for Lee’s ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship will be equally good too.
I can imagine that Lee has a fire burning inside of her. She knows she has the chance to redeem herself in her division, where she is still undefeated.
Meanwhile, Xiong always feels like she has something to prove in all her battles. It’s crazy to think about it because she is already one of the best in the world.
Xiong is one of China’s biggest influencers in the sport of martial arts. Despite being a World Champion herself, her drive is unparalleled, and I love seeing that drive and determination from somebody who has already accomplished so much in her career.
A lot of people would have remained in their comfort zone, or their division in this instance, but not Xiong. She wants to prove that she is the better athlete. She wants to show her ability to be resilient, to be adaptive, and to compete against one of the best to ever do it.
Xiong hasn’t competed since that bout in March, whereas Lee stuck in the strawweight division to test herself against Michelle Nicolini in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia back in July.
Once again, it was not the result she had hoped for against the eight-time BJJ World Champion, but I do believe it sparked a new drive in Lee as she moves back down to the division where she remains undefeated.
Lee learned a lot from competing against Nicolini. It was a tough stylistic match-up for Lee, who suddenly needed to avoid the clinch for the first time in her career. That is something I can personally relate to. Nicolini executed a perfect game plan.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to grapple with both of them before I joined ONE Championship a few years ago. What I can conclude from some of our sessions were that they each have a different grappling style, but very effective techniques.
I was so impressed by Nicolini’s ability to avoid damage on the ground, but stylistically, that was a big challenge for Lee. However, I’m sure Lee has realized where she came up short.
She has a great family coaching her — they are so involved in the sport, and I’m sure they have studied that performance and dissected it. Lee will grow from that and trust me, this will be one of her biggest evolutions yet.
I think Lee has never seen the potential of her growth chart as she has never had to do it before. I could tell the same about myself when I faced Ronda Rousey. I breezed past most in my career, but with Rousey, I had to change my whole style. I think the same kind of scenario played out for Lee.
I’m certain she will grow from that match-up with Nicolini — more so than the one against Xiong. Lee did not do anything wrong really in that bout, and there were times where she had Xiong in real trouble. She had a super tight submission at one point, and everyone thought it was going to be game over.
That brings me to the last part of my piece this week – Xiong’s grit and courage.
Xiong is made of pure grit. She has an iron will, she is very determined, and she exemplifies what it takes to be a World Champion.
Going into the final round of that match against Lee after almost getting submitted was where her championship mentality shined brighter than ever. For her to pick up the intensity in the last round and get the finish over Lee was fireworks. It was something out of this world. Her great mental fortitude and heart makes her a superb World Champion.
I don’t know how she had the knockout power in the final round, as it is the most difficult round to have the energy and explosiveness, but that shows you how well trained she is.
Xiong works very hard and trains very hard. She was prepared, and she knew Lee possessed a mentality as tough as hers. Lee never fades away — she comes at you in every single round — but Xiong was ready to push her to the limits, both mentally and physically.
There are several questions to ask in regards to the rematch at ONE: CENTURY PART I, such as who will deliver when the opportunity comes? Can Xiong keep it on the feet? Or can Lee take the strawweight queen to the ground?
In the first match, it was how Lee would fare in a heavier weight class, but all that attention will now be turned to Xiong and how she will adapt in the atomweight division.
I couldn’t wait for the first one, and I’m beyond excited for the rematch. Potentially, if Lee wins this one, we could have a rubber match to see who comes out on top in this rivalry.
I cannot predict what will happen when these two clash, but at whatever weight class, one thing is guaranteed – I will be there and I will be on the edge of my seat!
Miesha Tate is the Vice President of ONE Championship. She is also a multi-time mixed martial arts World Champion, as well as a women’s mixed martial arts pioneer. Check back weekly for a new installment of “From The Mind Of Miesha Tate.”
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.