Xiong Jing Nan produced a career-defining performance to retain her ONE Championship women’s strawweight title on Sunday, 31 March.
She defended the gold in a historic champion versus champion match-up against previously undefeated atomweight queen “Unstoppable” Angela Lee in the co-main event of ONE: A New Era.
Xiong was pushed to the limit at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, and she was nearly submitted in the fourth round. But the Chinese fighter stormed back in the fifth and final round to defeat the Singaporean via TKO.
When the opening round began, Lee immediately darted across the cage and attacked the 31-year-old Beijing native with her vast striking combinations.
Although Xiong played a counter-punching role, she did not hesitate to return fire.
Both athletes landed some solid punches, but the women’s atomweight Champion used those exchanges to set up a beautiful trip takedown to bring the Chinese athlete to the ground.
Lee worked to advance her position, but “The Panda” remained patient and soon found a way to get back to her feet.
By the time the first round ended, the Singaporean’s confidence was surging, as she was able to avoid Xiong’s power to consistently get on the inside and utilize her world-class grappling skills.
Lee continued to execute her strategy at the beginning of the second round, as she pressed forward and closed the distance.
Surviving the clinch
The 22-year-old got locked in the clinch with Xiong several times and while she was not doing much damage, she still got the better of the exchanges.
The Singaporean remained busy at all times, as she peppered away with short body punches and then bludgeoned Xiong with elbows as they separated from close quarters.
But deep into the championship rounds Lee began to slow and The Panda kicked into gear.
She went on the attack with a barrage of punches, battering her visibly exhausted rival with a slew of overhand rights and left hooks.
Xiong continued walking her down with punches and kicks, but it was a rib-rattling shot to the body that had Lee dropping her hands and wincing in pain.
Knowing the end was near, Xiong followed up with punches to the head and kicks to the ribs. Lee folded in half and turned away from the punishment, which forced referee Kemp Cheng to call a stop to the contest at 1:37 of round five.
Xiong moved her record to 17-1 and proved to be the most dominant female martial artist in ONE Championship.
By doing so, she also handed Lee the first loss of her professional mixed martial arts career and denied her the honor of being the first women’s two-division ONE World Champion.