ONE champ Xiong braces for Balin bout in Macau

Xiong Jingnan will defend her women's strawweight world title against top-ranked Argentine powerhouse Laura Balin at Studio City Event Center in China's Macau on Saturday.

ONE Championship - Pinnacle Of Power will be held in Macau on Saturday.d

Xiong Jingnan, the first Chinese gold belt holder of the ONE Championship, will defend her women’s strawweight world title against top-ranked Argentine powerhouse Laura Balin at Studio City Event Center in China’s Macau on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Shandong Province native beat Singapore’s Tiffany Teo in Indonesia in January to win the gold belt on Asia’s premier martial arts stage.

In the other main co-event, ONE flyweight world champion Adriano Moraes of Brazil will take on interim titleholder Geje Eustaquio of the Philippines in a unification bout.

On the undercard are two China-Philipinnes fights — Li Kaiwen versus Rodian Menchavez (featherweight); and Ma Haobin against Danny Kingad in a flyweight clash.

Nicknamed “The Panda”, Xiong’s short-hair boyish appearance and straight-forward personality have made her popular with MMA fans. With a 14-1 record, Xiong expressed a strong desire for victory against her 38-year-old opponent.

“It’s hard to predict what will happen in the bout, but as the defending champion I feel it a responsibility to keep the title in front of my home crowd.”

Xiong said if the Macau fight went her way, she would dedicate the victory to her father who has been the driving force behind her career.

“As a child, I remember him as a strict father, who, however, has always encouraged and supported me en route to my championship.

“He is not good with words, but showed me his love through action. As a woman fighter, it’s unthinkable to be without my father’s support,” said Xiong.

The 24-year-old Ma, a former national wrestling champion who became an MMA fighter just two years ago, is also looking forward to his bout on Saturday.

Despite his modest looks, Ma (13-2) is known for his aggressive power and control in the cage.

His 22-year-old opponent Kingad also holds a competitive 9-1 record — his only defeat being at the hands of current flyweight champion Moraes, who will appear in the main co-event.

“Both Kingad and me hold good records in the cage,” said Ma. “I want to prove in this fight that I’m stronger than the ex-world champion challenger. Moraes will also be watching. There is tough competition in the flyweight category, and I’ll show my desire for the top honor.”

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