China’s first two major MMA champions in the sport’s history are competitors in the strawweight division. Following in Xiong JingNan’s footsteps, Weili Zhang recently claimed a world title of her own.
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History was made in January 2018 as “The Panda” became the ONE Championship strawweight queen with a fourth-round TKO of Tiffany Teo. Since then, JingNan has successfully defended her throne three times with the most recent coming over atomweight champion, Angela Lee.
The fight with Lee was another historic moment in the career of China’s JingNan as the pair squared off in only the second-ever female champion vs champion super fight in major MMA history. The first being the UFC featherweight title bout between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Amanda Nunes.
Coming exactly five months after JingNan’s colossal and further self-establishing victory over her fellow champion, another landmark would be set for her country.
At UFC Shenzhen on August 31, the red-hot Handan, Hebei native in Zhang would waste no time etching her name into the record books. In just 42 seconds, Zhang would elbow and knee her way through the champion, Jessica Andrade, to become the first of her kind in the UFC.
As the trendsetter, Xiong JingNan was more than satisfied to see her country’s growth in the sport continuing on at the sport’s peak.
“It was an impressive win and I am truly happy for her,” JingNan shared with The Body Lock. “I’m glad to see more Chinese on the global stage and making waves. It is fair to say that Zhang and I represent the highest level of China’s MMA industry. And I’m sure the world will see more of China in this field very soon.”
With the two champions leading the pack, China’s rapid development has been made rather apparent over recent years. Fellow fighters such as Li Jingliang, Yan Xiaonan, and Song Yadong are all great examples of the best that China has to offer.
Another recent rise in the MMA landscape has been the prospect of cross-promotional bouts. Most recently popularized between America’s Bellator MMA and the Japan-based RIZIN Fighting Federation, it’s an idea that has been wildly successful to this point.
And as great as it has been to see China rise together with its many talents, the community can’t help but ponder the idea of seeing the country’s two very best going at it for ultimate supremacy. If the possibility presented itself, “The Panda” has let it be known she’s willing to take on all comers like the fighting champion she is… even if against her fellow countrywoman.
“Cross-promotion is an interesting form,” JingNan said. “If ONE would like to organize something like that, I’d ready. With the glory comes the responsibility. A true champion does not choose her opponent. Shall the opportunity arise, I’m ready to compete against anybody whom ONE puts in front of me.”
Xiong JingNan will have her next bout at ONE: Century next Sunday, October 13. The fight will see her challenge for the chance to become a dual-division champion in a rematch with the aforementioned atomweight champion in Lee. Meaning that the fight will this time be for Lee’s atomweight title.
Stay tuned to The Body Lock for the rest of our chat with the ONE strawweight titleholder next week.
Facebook: Jingnan Xiong
Drake Riggs is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women's fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at: "Drake Riggs" where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.