ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan has already made history by becoming the first Chinese athlete to win a mixed martial arts World Title.
Now, she has her sights set on a super-bout with one of the biggest female stars in the sport.
“The Panda” captured the ONE Women’s Strawweight Title with a victory over Tiffany Teo at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE in January, then successfully defended her title against Argentinian challenger Laura Balin at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in June.
Looking back at her maiden title defence, Xiong said her training camp at Bali MMA was instrumental to her successful performance.
“I treat every fight seriously from my heart. For this match, I was more focused on my stand-up and my wrestling,” she explains.
“Bali MMA was a huge help in every aspect of my training and life.
“My striking coach Mike Ikilei always helped me with my stand-up skills, even after regular training time – and coach Don Carlo-Clauss helped me with my wrestling skills.
“I kept practising and training non-stop, thanks to having them by my side.”
Despite a dominant performance and a relentless display, Xiong had to battle for five rounds to defeat Balin.
“The Panda” says she wasn’t disappointed by her performance, and instead pays tribute to her opponent.
“I really respect Laura. She is a very great fighter, and there was nothing disappointing for me,” she explains.
“Every fight is a chance to find out who you really are and what you really want. She gave me a chance to find what I am lacking so I could improve myself.”
It may come as a surprise to some that we have not yet seen the best from Xiong, who reveals that she had a number of different issues to deal with leading into both of her World Title bouts so far in ONE Championship.
But with her problems seemingly now behind her, the future looks bright for the exciting World Champion.
“To be honest, this process has been very exhausting – from the early preparation to the fight’s end,” she admits.
“In my first fight for the belt [against Tiffany Teo in January], I was injured, and it has taken some time to recover. Also, I had problems in my life that led to an incomplete recovery. But when I got my bout with Laura, I adjusted my physical and mental conditions.
“I really look forward to getting back to my real strength as soon as possible. I hope I can walk in the cage next time with my real inner ‘Panda.’”
With the win over Balin now committed to record, and following a little time to assess her next move, Xiong says she’s looking forward to her next test.
“It does not matter who I face. Every fighter provides a new learning opportunity – not only for my skills, but it also allows me to better understand myself,” she says.
One potential contest that would excite the martial arts world would be a match-up with ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, who has spoken of her desire to move up to strawweight and take on Xiong in a World Champion versus World Champion super-bout.
It seems like a challenge “The Panda” would certainly relish.
“I really like her,” says Xiong.
“She is an extraordinary fighter. I believe we could learn from each other. Her stand-up skills and her ground skills are her strong points – especially her ground skills.”
But with no bout currently confirmed, Xiong’s aim isn’t fixed on one particular opponent. Instead, she just wants to give the fans excitement every time she competes.
“This is very easy and simple (my goal is) to try my best in every fight,” she says.
“Also, I want to give my best to the people who support me and love me.”