Rivalries: Jingnan Xiong

Jingnan Xiong seems to strengthen her reputation every time she steps foot in the One Championship cage—win, lose or draw.

“The Panda” will defend her undisputed women’s strawweight title when she confronts Michelle Nicolini in the One Championship “Empower” main event on Sept. 3 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. Xiong, 33, owns a 6-1 record inside the Chatri Sityodtong-fronted organization. She has delivered 11 of her 15 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission, six of them in the first round.

As Xiong prepares for her latest title defense against an eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion in Nicolini, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape her career:

Colleen Schneider

Xiong entered her match with “Super Collider” on the Kunlun Fight 26 undercard as an undefeated prospect with seemingly limitless promise, a perfect 5-0 record preceding her arrival on June 6, 2015 in Chongqing, China. She exited the cage having suffered her first professional defeat, as Schneider laid claim to a three-round unanimous decision. Xiong returned to the drawing board, shored up some of the remaining holes in her game and emerged as something of a new creation. She rattled off nine consecutive victories across the next four-plus years, struck gold in One Championship and established herself as one of the sport’s premier competitors at 125 pounds. The decision over Xiong touched off a four-fight winning streak for Schneider, who went on the challenge for the Invicta Fighting Championships bantamweight title less than a year later but saw her career derailed by a knee injury in 2017.

Tiffany Teo

“The Panda” put away Teo with fourth-round punches to capture the inaugural women’s strawweight title in the One Championship “Kings of Courage” main event on Jan. 20, 2018 at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia. Xiong drew the curtain 2:17 into Round 4. She wore down Teo with pinpoint strikes, often pairing overhand rights with left hooks while piling up considerable damage around both eyes. Xiong made her move in the fourth, where she disengaged from the clinch, moved out into open space and unleashed a volley of overhand rights that ultimately forced her exhausted counterpart to wilt in the center of the cage. The two women met for a second time at One Championship “Inside the Matrix” on Oct. 30, 2020, as Xiong successfully defended her 125-pound title with a five-round unanimous decision over the Singapore native. She remains the only woman to defeat Teo.

Angela Lee

Xiong retained her women’s strawweight title in the One Championship “A New Era” co-headliner, as she dispatched the previously unbeaten Hawaiian with fifth-round punches and body kicks. Lee—the promotion’s reigning atomweight queen—succumbed to blows 1:37 into Round 5, her bid to become a simultaneous two-division champion foiled. The outcome remained in doubt for the duration. Lee nearly dethroned “The Panda” in the fourth round, where she transitioned to an armbar for a near-finish. Xiong survived, dragged her rival into deeper waters and let her sensational skills do the rest. She doubled over Lee with a straight right to the body early in Round 5 and cut loose with punches and kicks until referee Kemp Cheng had seen enough. Six months later, Xiong made the decision to cut down to 115 pounds to challenge the Evolve MMA star for the women’s atomweight title. It did go according to plan, as Lee submitted the Phuket Top Team product with a rear-naked choke in the fifth round of their One Championship “Century” Part I rematch on Oct. 12, 2019. Given a bitter taste of her own medicine, Xiong surrendered 4:48 into Round 5.

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