Xiong Jing Nan ready to carry the crown for China

Expect the Panda to bring an aggressive game to the cage. Photo: David Ash / ONE Championship.

Xiong Jing Nan is just five days out from the biggest fight of her career.

This Saturday “The Panda” is set to headline ONE Championship’s first event of 2018, when she faces Tiffany “No Chill” Teo for the promotion’s inaugural women’s strawweight world title.

It’s a high pressure fight for the 30-year-old former weightlifter and pro boxer, but one she has been preparing for her entire career.

“I’m confident,” she told TFN on the tail end of a fight camp at Phuket Top Team. “Getting the belt is my dream. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I’m always ready.”

Xiong is known as an aggressive fighter and the bruises she has accumulated over the last couple of weeks give some indication of how hard she has been preparing for the undefeated Tiffany Teo (7-0). But Xiong wears them like a badge of honour.

“I like the bruises,” she says. “It means I work hard. If I don’t get bruises it means that I’m not working hard enough.”

Xiong’s journey to the strawweight title has not been easy. Since moving to Beijing to train with Alliance MMA, she has sacrificed a lot on the home front and socially. She’s unable to travel with family, she rarely finds the time to dress up and go clubbing – things she says she loves to do. She even went so far as to cut off all her hair for more effective training.

“My hair used to be long, but I cut it all off for jiu-jitsu training.”

Xiong Jing Nan made her debut with ONE in December.

Born in Shandong, Xiong started her career as a weightlifter and then a boxer, before relocating to Beijing and pursue a career in MMA. This has meant long periods away from home and embracing a life of simplicity.

“Actually, my life is pretty boring,” she admits. “I train, eat, then go home.”

Despite all this, support from her family and friends has been unwavering.

“My parents are really supportive. I haven’t been home for almost two years, so I have to win this fight for my family.”

Despite having just one fight with ONE Championship, Xiong brings a wealth of experience to this weekend’s bout, built up during her time with the China-based Kunlun Fight promotion. In her debut fight with ONE on 9 December, Xiong served up a beating to Filipino fighter April Osenio, so much so that she was offered an immediate title shot.

But when it comes to predicting the outcome of this weekend’s bout, the Chinese fighter is keeping her options open.

“I can’t predict what’s going to happen. When you’re inside the cage, the situation can change at any second. I would rather let my actions doing the talking for me.”

Instead, she remains focused on a much larger goal – being the best in the world.

“The biggest goal in my life is to become the best strawweight in the world. I’ve already become the top Chinese athlete. Right now, I’m aiming to be at the top of world in this sport,” she said.