‘The Panda’ Xiong Jing Nan will defend her ONE women's strawweight world title against Ayaka ‘Zombie’ Miura in the main event of ONE: Heavy Hitters on Friday, January 14. The news was first reported by Sports Illustrated.
The spectacle, which marks ONE Championship’s first event of 2022, will be Xiong’s sixth title defense. In her last outing, the 33-year-old world champion smashed her way past 13-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Michelle Nicolini to retain her belt.
Xiong boasts a highly-impressive 16-2 resume. 10 of Xiong’s victories have come by knockout. More impressively, she is still undefeated in the strawweight division in ONE Championship, with her only coming against ‘Unstoppable’ Angela Lee in their clash for the ONE atomweight world title in 2019.
The first Chinese MMA world champion has held the title for more than 1,400 days. Despite having a reputation as the most dangerous striker in the strawweight division, Xiong has tremendously improved her grappling repertoire under the tutelage of several wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion coaches at Evolve MMA in Singapore.
Xiong will be eager to extend her win streak while displaying her all-round game against No. 4-ranked strawweight contender Miura at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. She has been waiting for this opportunity, and fans can expect her to come out hunting for a victory from the opening bell.
How will Xiong fare against Miura?
Following Miura’s sensational win at ONE: Dangal in May, the 31-year-old Japanese fighter made her intentions very clear to the promotion.
In an interview with ONE Championship following her signature scarf-hold Americana submission over Rayane Bastos, the Tribe Tokyo MMA star said she wants an immediate shot at Xiong’s world title.
“All the opponents I’ve fought have participated in World Title matches and I’m the only one who hasn’t, so I’d like to do it. I think Xiong is a very strong opponent, but I don’t know until I grapple with her.”
Her wish has now come true and if she decides to grapple with Xiong, 'Zombie' could stand a chance to defeat the strawweight queen.
However, if ‘The Panda’ can frustrate Miura with her slick takedown defenses and catch her with her powerful boxing combinations, there seems to be only one clear winner in this contest.