In February 2018, Jihin Radzuan was just one fight into her professional mixed martial arts career. She had not competed for a major organization and was mostly unknown to Malaysia and the world. Only 12 months later, Radzuan has now developed into a highly-regarded, recognizable mixed martial artist competing under the ONE Championship banner.
The undefeated atomweight had a dream start to her time as a ONE Championship athlete, winning all three of her bouts since joining the promotion in March 2018. Radzuan submitted Puja Tomar in the second round before ending Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol’s three-fight winning streak and handing Jenny Huang another loss. Radzuan has looked outstanding so far in her short professional career, mostly due to her invaluable experience as an amateur competing in Malaysian Invasion and the 2017 IMMAF Asian Open Championships.
With each of these brilliant performances, Radzuan’s popularity has continued to rise in Malaysia, where she competed on all three occasions last year.
“It was a big impact for me because all three of my fights were in Malaysia,” Radzuan told John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock.
“I gained fans from my hometown and it’s a different kind of feeling because it went from nothing, then people around me say congrats, and then people all around Malaysia DM me and say congratulations. I know it’s kind of different, but it won’t affect me.”
“It’s kind of weird because when you go somewhere and then people say, ‘Hey, Jihin, right?’ or ‘Shadow Cat, right?’ It’s something that is very funny and then it makes me feel awkward.”
Making Malaysia great again
Jihin Radzuan is already making a huge impact inside the ONE Championship cage, but she is committed to making an impact out of competition, as well.
The 21-year-old mixed martial artist is quickly growing her fanbase and welcomes the idea of being a role model for women in Malaysia.
“I’m honored to say that I’m like a mentor because in Malaysia there’s a stigma, a saying that girls are supposed to stay at home. Like, they shouldn’t do anything rough or extreme because we are girls, and we are supposed to be soft.”
“So like for me, I would love to be that mentor – like you can do what you want to do. Of course, you have to be in a good way. Like good for our sport and all.”
While competing is, of course, Radzuan’s main priority at the moment, she’s taking every opportunity to influence younger women across Malaysia and encourage them to achieve their dreams.
“Last year after my debut, I got a few opportunities to give a talk and then be an ambassador for one company, one brand. It’s pretty cool.”
“I’m quite proud to see that I’m one of the pro athletes in Malaysia for MMA. It’s time to make Malaysia great again.”
Competing in Bangkok, Thailand
Jihin Radzuan’s first opponent of 2019 is the highly-rated and always-tough Gina Iniong from the Philippines.
The Team Lakay fighter has ranked amongst the best in the women’s atomweight division since joining in April 2017. Iniong has defeated a similar list of names to Radzuan, but has been in there against some of the best the division has to offer. Iniong’s only two defeats in ONE Championship were against former title challengers, Mei Yamaguchi, and Istela Nunes.
Radzuan told John Hyon Ko that she was ‘shocked’ by the offer to fight against Iniong.
“At first, I was shocked because she’s one of the top athletes. I was expecting someone a similar level to mine, but, you know, I cannot expect to take somebody at the same level as me all the time.”
“For me, I don’t mind who is my opponent, how high she is, or how much experience she has. It’s just for myself, I want to try my stuff, I want to challenge myself.”
While the matchup is certainly an excellent opportunity for Radzuan, “Shadow Cat” explains that it’s also particularly exciting for another reason.
“It’s actually very exciting for me because it’s first time ever I’m fighting outside Malaysia.”
“When you fight in your hometown, it’s pressure is from the crowd, you know, because the whole stadium, they are Malaysian. So like when you fight outside your country, I think the environment’s going to be different because maybe they are not from your side. Like they don’t know who am I? Maybe they just come to support their athletes.”
“So for me, I don’t really have to think about the crowd, I just can focus about the fight night. Sometimes when people give too much hope for you, that can also become pressure because they hope something from you to show a performance too.”
Jihin Radzuan will compete against Gina Iniong at ONE: Clash of Legends in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday, February 16.
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Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.