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June 25, 2018

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Xiong defends women’s strawweight title in Macau

XIONG “The Panda” Jingnan defended her ONE women’s strawweight world title for the first time with a unanimous decision over challenger Laura Balin in China’s Macau on Saturday.

“I am happy I could defend the title in front of my home crowd,” the mixed martial artist told Shanghai Daily. “But both me and my coach agree that there is still room for improvement, and I hope become even better.”

The 30-year-old Shandong Province native became the first Chinese gold belt holder of the ONE Championship after beating Singapore’s Tiffany Teo in Indonesia in January.

Coming into the five-round bout, which served as the main event of ONE — Pinnacle Of Power — Argentinian Balin wisely went for a clinch in order to neutralize the titleholder’s famed punching power. But Xiong managed to turn the tide in her favor, taking her rival down to the canvas.

Xiong had an answer for every attack in the second frame, showcasing her grappling skills. Balin tried to create some distance in the third round, but was quickly neutralized. Xiong pushed the pace in the fourth frame, and became more aggressive in the final round before earning the unanimous decision.

Xiong said she has been trying to find a more suitable fighting style for herself. “I was actually thinking a bit too much when taking on Balin, partially due to nerves. I could have made better use of my wrestling and jujitsu skills in the fight. I believe I will present a better self to the audience in the next fight.”

The win improved her record to 15-1. Her next challenge could potentially be a clash with unbeaten ONE women’s atomweight world champion Angela Lee.

In the other main co-event, Philippines’ Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio was crowned undisputed ONE flyweight world champion by beating Brazil’s Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes in a split decision.

In an earlier featherweight bout, Li Kaiwen set a new ONE Championship record, knocking out Filipino debutant Rodian Menchavez in just 10 seconds.

Li’s fastest knockout smashed the 21-second record set by Edward Kelly in January. The Chinese fighter then challenged ONE featherweight world champion Martin Nguyen for a fight.

The ONE Championship will next visit Guangzhou on July 7.


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