Xiong Jing Nan will become the first Chinese fighter to ever challenge for a ONE Championship title when she faces Tiffany Teo on Saturday night in Jakarta with the inaugural flyweight belt up for grabs.
The 30-year-old holds a record of 10-1 and has emerged as the top fighter in the division from China. She beat April Osenio on her promotional debut in Bangkok and was rewarded with an immediate shot at the title at ONE: Kings of Courage.
China’s martial arts history played out in movie theaters before anyone thought to compete in a cage. Xiong’s initial inspiration came not from another fighter, but from a famous film.
“My love for ‘The Swordsman’ was very serious. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be (a swordsman) myself to eliminate bullying, help the poor, and so on.”
Xiong’s prospects of becoming a real-life swordsman would have been better had she been born in the Ming Dynasty, when the movie was set. But becoming a mixed martial artist could be seen as a modern equivalent, and it’s a career she has been working towards for decades.
As a child, Xiong left home to pursue a career in weightlifting. She decided to take up boxing to compliment her strength and conditioning routines and eventually became a national champion. Her father encouraged her to pursue martial arts full-time and she went on to win the China Open in BJJ, as well as winning 10 out of 11 MMA fights.
Xiong’s father has been a strong influence on her life and helped foster a burning hatred of social unjustice, something she still feels to this day.
“My father taught me that everyone is equal. When I see people getting bullied, I feel outraged. I’ll stand up for them, and protect the vulnerable.”
ONE Championship favors fighters who are positive role models and Xiong feels like a very good fit for the Singapore-headquartered organization. However, it’s not a persona she has created specifically for the spotlight, it is a fundamental part of her personality.
“This is something that comes out of your heart. You cannot pretend or disguise feelings like this. This is something I feel deep inside my bones. I cannot change it in my life.”
Xiong takes time out to reflect on her life and the moments which made her aspire to be a martial artist. But right now there is a serious task at hand and she is training at Phuket Top Team to prepare for her title match against the undefeated Teo.
She’s been sparring with female fighters like Katharina Lehner, an undefeated Invicta contender who competes in the bantamweight division. With ONE Championship determined to conquer China, there is an incredible opportunity for Xiong to become the promotion’s single biggest star there.
Standing between her and that opportunity is Teo. Xiong was tight lipped when asked about Saturday’s opponent, but is in no doubt as to what the outcome will be.
“This fight is very important to me because I want to prove Chinese fighters can compete at the highest level. I am determined to win and I will win.”
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