- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
ONE women’s strawweight titleholder “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan is relishing every second of her reign over the division.
“For me, having the World Championship belt in mixed martial arts is more important than my life,” she said. “And I’ll take care of it with my life because other people can watch me in my fights.”
Those people will be watching Xiong very closely this Friday, 3 September, when the Chinese star defends her gold against 13-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Michelle Nicolini at the historic ONE: EMPOWER, an all-women’s martial arts spectacle featuring the top female athletes in the promotion.
For her part, Xiong is grateful to be facing tough competition in the evening’s main event.
“[When you get matched up against a tough opponent], everyone will have the first reaction of fear in their body, but I think it’s better to turn this fear into motivation,” she said.
“When I got the news that Michelle and I were going to fight each other, I thought that it would be more of a chance for me to improve. It’s a very good matchup.
“I like to fight with opponents at a higher level because, in the course of the fight, you can see something good and bad about yourself.”
Against Nicolini, Xiong will get a chance to see just how strong her own ground game is. The Brazilian has competed – and succeeded – in top grappling promotions, including the IBJJF (gi and no-gi) and the ADCC.
Still, Xiong is unbeaten in ONE, winning all five of her bouts against top-ranked strawweights. And she’s taking the skills of her upcoming foe in stride.
“Michelle Nicolini said her ground technique is 10 times stronger than mine, and I have no chance to win on the ground, but my first reaction to that was to keep smiling,” the Chinese star said.
“The smile shows that I know who I am, and I have confidence in myself. I want to remember what she said at this moment and then use my strength on the day of the fight to tell her, ‘You’re wrong in what you said.’”
If “The Panda” wants to deliver a winning speech in the Circle, she’ll have to overcome her own flaws as an athlete. That said, the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion believes she and her team at Evolve MMA have it all figured out.
“Of course, her ground technique is her advantage because it’s one weak point on me, relatively and technically speaking,” Xiong said.
“But of course, we have a plan, with training from my coach and some tips from people around me. Then we all have to work hard and positively to prepare for the fight, to learn more, and to try different training techniques.”
And that brings her back to the reason she’s planning to hold down her reign as strawweight queen. As Xiong said, winning is not only for her — it’s for those who need a boost of inspiration in their own lives.
“[My fans] can watch me when I encounter difficulty, see how I survive by perseverance, and go on to finish the fight,” she added.
“This can give them encouragement and help when they’re in trouble, and when they walk through difficulties in their lives.”
Read More From ONE Championship: